Where Did Mommy Go?Tanis Miller
I also called him Daddy-O, Mr. Miller when he annoyed me, Dad and of course, Daddy when I wanted to borrow his truck or empty his pockets of cash.
These days it doesn’t matter what I call him, he can’t hear me half the time anyways because he refuses to get his hearing checked. Stubborn old fart.
My dad isn’t just Dad anymore, but Grandpa now too, thanks to the fact sand has poured through the hourglass of time and I am now a parent to children of my own always trying to pick my pockets empty of cash.
The difference between my kids and myself? They never call me Mommy while attempting to manipulate me. In fact, they don’t call me Mommy at all. Like, ever.
Somewhere, amongst the blink of time, the term Mommy has died, to be replaced simply with the steadfast and boring Mom, occasionally Mrs. Miller when they are annoyed with me and not often enough, Oh Captain, My Captain.
Where has Mommy gone?
I hadn’t even noticed its absence from our vernacular until my son dropped a ‘mommy’ bomb on me recently.
“What did you just call me?” I asked my 14-year-old son who is over six feet tall.
He blinked at me, like an owl, probably wondering what craziness I was prattling about this time and then repeated, “Mommy?”
I couldn’t help it. I cracked up.
I used to be a mommy, and to my youngest, the Jumbster, I will always be his mommy, but to my teenagers? I don’t know, but I think I stopped being their mommy around the same time they started understanding math concepts I never will.
All of a sudden it seems ridiculous and weird to have my child call me “Mommy.”
I half expected him to ask me to cut his meat up for him and call me to the bathroom to help wipe his bum.
But when my man-cub towers over me and officially sports a thicker moustache than I do, it just seems odd to have him refer to me by the name he used to when he didn’t know which hand was left and which hand was right.
I saved locks of my children’s hair, their baby teeth (I want to make a necklace out of them to wear the day they graduate from high school) and a pile of artwork and photographs documenting the history of their childhood.
But I rather wish I had taken the time to savour the moments when they could call me mommy without me thinking they sounded ridiculous.
But then again, I also wish I had taken the time to appreciate how thin and perky I looked when I was 21 and wish I had spent more time wearing a bikini than those hideous oversized denim overalls I thought looked cool. You know what they say about youth being wasted on the young. Apparently the same can be said for the early parenthood years.
“Look kid, I love being your mom, and I’m always going to be your mother, but really, call me Mommy again and I will totally post that picture of the time you accidentally spray painted your man-junk bright red when you were three.”
My son looked at me for a second, remembered said photo, shuddered and said, “Deal. MOM.”
And then he wandered off muttering something about me being mommy dearest.
I was in the middle of extricating cold, congealed maple syrup from the insidious nooks and crannies of my son’s booster seat when my stomach started doing “Mambo Number Five.” It had to be fed, no matter what it took, even if it meant hiding from my children.
Almost two hours beforehand, I had been jolted out of bed by a loud, insistent “Mama!” holler from Jonah’s room alerting me that my day as his personal servant had begun. A half-hour later, his twin sister Abbey awoke and the two of them demanded that “bwe-fis” (“breakfast” to the rest of us) magically appear before them right now. After sucking the juice out of their sippy cups in a mere 90 seconds, they quickly grabbed my ankles—clearly irritated that I was moving too slowly for their taste—and requested, “Moor duce.” When I replied, “No more juice right now, you’ll spoil your breakfast,” two sets of feet began stomping on the crumb-covered linoleum in a fine exhibit of toddler rage.
An eternity later, from a toddler’s perspective, I finally put their gourmet meal of reheated frozen waffles, maple syrup, and sliced bananas on their trays. While they devoured their food, I made some coffee. No sooner had I poured myself a cup and settled in to drink it, when Abbey and Jonah decided they were done and had to be set loose, immediately. “Why don’t you try to eat a little more banana?” I pleaded. “No! All dun!” they yelled. “Fine,” I grumbled, getting terribly fatigued surveying the mess they’d made, feeling like I needed to start a caffeine IV just to keep up with them. I really needed that coffee. I did a cursory kid clean-up (a fire hose would have done the job best) and then flouted the warnings of the clueless, so-called child experts who say kids under two years old shouldn’t watch TV, and put on a Teletubbies video.
I went back into the kitchen, started to clean up, but then decided my growling stomach took precedence. I popped my cup of coffee into the microwave and started slathering a bagel with cream cheese. But then, I heard it . . . that distinctive sound of tiny, bare feet slapping the ground coming at me. If they saw me, they’d demand my bagel. They’d sit there until all the cream cheese was gone and my bagel was covered with toddler spit. Despite their insistence that they were stuffed beyond all reasonable measure by my exquisitely prepared breakfast, if something better came along, like, say, anything Mommy was eating, my bagel didn’t have a prayer. “I’m so terribly full Mother, I couldn’t possibly eat another morsel of your scrumptious meal . . . what, what’s that you say? You have a bagel? Well why didn’t you say so? Gimme!”)
So I did what any hungry parent would do. I hid. That’s right, I hid. I dove behind the divider in the kitchen clutching my bagel protectively. I wasn’t going to cough it up to my rug-rats. Listening with the attentive ears of prey being hunted down by a fearless predator, I heard the steps hesitate and eventually retreat. Slowly, I poked my head above the wall and surveyed the room. No kids. But, not wanting to risk the sanctity of my breakfast, I hunkered down on the cold, hard floor and ate in peace.
Yes, I hide from my kids. And all of you who are shaking your heads saying, “This poor woman, she’s obviously lost her mind,” have obviously never been stalked by the likes of Abbey and Jonah. You probably have never had eagle-eyed children watching your every move, waiting to pounce when you make the slightest mistake, like leaving a cup of anything unattended, even on the highest surface in the house, only to turn around and find that your toddler is drinking your coffee and will likely be awake for the next 18 straight hours bouncing off the walls.
Before I had kids, I never really understood parents who said they never had a moment’s peace. Where ever they went, they’d tell me, their kids would be there. No place and no item, particularly their food, was safe. “Who runs their household, the kids or the grown-ups?” I’d stupidly ponder, when I had the luxury to ponder such esoteric things.
That was before I realized that trying to fold clothes when the kids were awake was a ridiculously futile undertaking. (Who knew how much fun it could be to roll around with freshly laundered towels and Daddy’s boxer shorts?) That was before I witnessed Abbey and Jonah unmake a bed and empty a closet in under a minute, before I realized that reading a newspaper within 20 yards of Jonah is interpreted as an invitation to wrestle and before I learned that, to a toddler, every grown-up’s unattended cup must contain an irresistible elixir that must be sipped.
I jealously guard the few creature comforts I’m unwilling to part with—like the newspaper and actually eating something that isn’t a soggy, pre-chewed Abbey/Jonah reject—and, when the situation calls for it, I hide.
I have shamelessly bolted down the hallway upon hearing the pounding of four feet behind me in furious pursuit, and then quickly shut my bedroom door behind me in order to get dressed without having someone pointing at my butt and saying, “Mama bum-bum.” When I’ve wanted to munch on something I don’t want them to have, I’ve hid around the corner or out of sight. I’m not above diving to the ground in instances when I’m having a barbecue chip craving and don’t feel like filling the kids with junk food or, let’s be honest, cleaning them up afterwards.
As a result, I’ve gained a whole new understanding of why my father seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom when my brother and I were kids. It was the only room in the house with a lock on the door, the only room where he could go and be left relatively undisturbed. He’d go in there with the whole Sunday paper and be in there for what seemed liked hours. Now, I get it.
So I’ve adopted it as my own refuge. A mommy’s locked bathroom is her castle, now go watch the Teletubbies.