There’s been a lot of discourse lately about Alpha Moms - the ones who seem to be “doing it all.” I feel compelled to write on their behalf, to shed some insight into their lives, since I am one of them. (And if I want it explained correctly, I better do it myself.) Allow me to address you in this letter, a Type A mom’s plea for your understanding. But not for your forgiveness. We have done nothing wrong! We have done everything … right?
To Whom it May Concern (my husband in this case, but it could be a co-worker, a friend or your fellow PTA constituents),
Thank you for offering to help when I bemoan the fact that I work full-time, manage the kids’ drop-off and pick-up schedules, school events and Pizza Friday money, coordinate babysitting and housecleaning, feel compelled to maintain an active online social life, yet never spend time with my friends, plan meals, keep us flush with diapers and flushable wipes, appropriately tip everyone during the holidays, navigate the kindergarten admission process, keep the children’s vaccinations up to date and see to 80 percent of our bills getting paid, And that’s just on Mondays.
It means a lot but you must understand, I don’t want your help. I only want you to acknowledge that I NEED help. I want you to marvel at my workload and admit that you just couldn’t do it. But please stop short of telling me that I can’t do it either. I can! I am! Just look at how busy I am. I multi-task, I do everything at once, I say “hold on” a lot, because I’m busy! You’re in the way, sitting in one place for as long as you do, working on that one thing, till it’s done. What’s wrong with doing 10 things at the same time till they’re all done? Yes it takes, longer, and it means that sometimes the laundry mistakenly gets placed in the dishwasher. But things are happening!
And things are happening that we haven’t even tried yet. Zumba for me! Swim lessons for the pre-schooler! Tumbling for the toddler (don’t you think he has a knack? Just look at how we recovers from that roll off the couch when I turned my head for a second!—a second!—because I had to stack all the coloring books to face the same way, or else the kids don’t know what they want to color). Weekends are ours for the taking!
You don’t agree? I appreciate you wanting me to get more rest, taking the kids so I can have some time alone on weekend mornings. But if you think I’m going to lie down during that precious ninety minute chunk, you’re forgetting who I am. That’s an hour and a half I can spend moving sheaths of finger-painted masterpieces from the kids’ art table to under our bed*. And then I can research Crockpot recipes because I really want us to be eating more wholesomely and not relying on the freezer selection of Trader Joe’s. After that, I’ll exercise! But because I shower first thing in the morning (after getting up with the little guy while it’s still dark, nursing, fixing his breakfast, changing him and giving him a second breakfast after I clean up from the first one that he mostly dumped on the floor), that eliminates getting outside for some cardio so I have to think for a second before determining yoga is the answer. And that requires me to scroll through the Exercise on Demand Channel to find a challenging, yet not sweat-inducing, work-out, so by the time I select a routine, you return mid-day with 2 hungry kids, finding me sockless in the living room amidst crumpled school artwork and a thousand tabs open on our browser for every ground turkey recipe I could find that doesn’t call for tarragon. We’re out.
So yes, a well-stocked spice rack would mean I could significantly cut down the time spent hunting for recipes to try with ingredients already in the house, and so what if that cumin is six years old? And you don’t like cumin?
I have a plan on how it’s all going to work out, but it would just take too long to explain it to you, so if you could just agree that gray clothing belongs in the colored pile and not the white, and to not look at me like I’m racist when I’m saying that, we’ll be able to move on to the big picture stuff.
The kids’ lunches? First of all, THANK YOU, for preparing them. I love that I can delegate this task to you, though I think you’d be a lot more efficient if you used a serrated-edge knife to cut up the chicken for the baby. It won’t look quite so regurgitated. And it’s great that you are remembering to write the dates on all of their containers every day. But could you use a new label? Crossing it out in Sharpie makes it look like we never wash their sippy cups, and I don’t want the teachers thinking that, even though, to be honest, I can’t really get the bottle brush through the little opening of metal water bottle. I use REALLY hot water though. Look how chafed my hands are.
Now do you understand why I need my little travel-sized lotions all over the house? Got to keep moisturizing! Can’t slack on the routine. Think you can give up another one of your dresser drawers for me? I need some place to put all these new bottles I swiped from the hotel during the business trips last month.
And, do I even ask if the baby had clean pjs when I was gone? Because he had already slept in them one night before I left, and I know he likes eating your yogurt, which is FINE, but because he’s been refusing bibs, I just want to make sure he’s not going to sleep in crusty pajamas. Even if you can’t SEE anything, just feel for it…feel for the dried yogurt. It’ll be kind of sandy. I know you know what it feels like, but I’m just not THERE, so I need to know that you did that, that you checked, that he’s not bedding down in rancid dairy.
Oh, and please do not take offense when I move your cheese. It truly doesn’t belong there.
Even though you don’t think a lot of what I do, or the sheer volume of what I do, makes any sense, you have to admit, you’re impressed. Don’t take anything off my never-ending to-do list. I enjoy complaining about it. Please applaud me for being so thorough, for thinking of everything. I know you’ll fully understand my Type A-ishness when you can read my mind, and I won’t have to stop for a second to ask for help. You’ll just glide right in and start corralling coloring books. Except, don’t bother alphabetizing them; they’re arranged in character-preference order (princesses on top, PBS-related materials on the bottom).
That is the Type A logic. We don’t expect you to understand.
Yours in partnership,
Alpha Mom Liza
*Never said I was neat. Just that I needed to get things done.