Mother’s Little Helper

What a drag it is getting old.”

                                            -Rolling Stones

If you blur the picture, they look much hotter.

My vision is blurry . . . too much helper

Oh, Rolling Stones, you do know what you’re talking about.  And I’m not just saying that because all of you are incredibly old.  I mean, Mick Jagger is 70.  Fortunately, he was always ugly, so it’s not like he could look much worse.  And I’m fairly sure Keith Richards actually is dead, but is now performing onstage as a zombie.  But, looks aside, you guys write some pretty good songs. Songs with maybe a bit too much truth.

“Things are different today,”
I hear ev’ry mother say . . .”

That’s for sure.  I mean, yes, we have a lot more technology than mothers did 50 years ago.  On the other hand, we have a lot more technology than mothers did 50 years ago.  We have washers and dryers, which makes cleaning clothes easier, which means we clean our clothes more often.  Wait – what did we save here?  We’re no longer trapped in the home.  Nope.  Now we get to work and get trapped in the home after work.  Yes, it’s – it’s different today.

I have to wash all of Ken's pink clothes.  Dream wedding?  WTF was I thinking?

I have to wash all of Ken’s pink clothes. Dream wedding? WTF was I thinking?

“Cooking fresh food for a husband’s just a drag
So she buys an instant cake and she burns her frozen steak.”

Hell, yes.  I do love frozen food.  I mean, it’s food, and you heat it up.  And then you can eat it.  But wait – that’s not good, they say.  Oh, no, you should eat only organic.  Organic vegetables.  And then you should use one of those things, you know, those cookbook things.  And cook from scratch.  It’s so much healthier that way.  What do you mean you’re tired because you worked all day, either racing after children or digging through paperwork, or both?  You are woman!  Roar!  But not too long, you have to get supper on the table.

Unless you have your husband do it.  Me, me! I’m raising my hand here.  Not only that, I often get my husband to cook with frozen steaks and cakes!  I am a horrible mother, according to Parents, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and every other women’s magazine.  Well, except for Cosmo.  All you really have to do in Cosmo is find unique ways to give your man pleasure.  Well, Cosmo thinks you need unique ways, but really, all you need is you minus the clothes.  At least that’s what humor writer Dave Barry says, and I’ve yet to have a man disagree with this assessment.  But there’s just one problem . . .

Without Cosmo, I never would have known to wrap myself up in Saran Wrap.

Without Cosmo, I never would have known that wrapping myself up in Saran Wrap makes me sexy and keeps me fresher longer.

They just don’t appreciate that you get tired
They’re so hard to satisfy. You can tranquilise your mind . . .”

No shit.  I mean, you do get tired.  In fact, I do believe I’ve been tired ever since I got pregnant with my first child.  And it has never, ever stopped.  Tired. Always.  So much so that I made my username in one forum Tired42.  And I’ve devoted more than one blog post to this phenomenon.  Kids + Spouse / Significant Other + Life = Freaking Tired.  It’s a complex equation, but you’ll figure it out if you decide to let yourself become an adult.  I’m told that people without children also get tired.  I don’t know.  I got married and 18 months later I was a Mommy, and I freaking don’t remember anything before that.  Really.  I mean, I think there was a childhood in there, and some college, and a wedding . . . and . . . yeah I’m getting nothing here.  Sometimes my husband and I just sit together, both exhausted, and ask “What do people without kids DO?”  We have no idea.

What would we do if we weren't watching this?

What would we do if we weren’t watching this?

“Life’s just much too hard today,”
I hear ev’ry mother say
The pursuit of happiness just seems a bore . . .”

Yes, it’s the whine of the privileged American.  Life is hard.  I realize it’s nothing like what people in third world countries go through.  On the other hand, those people, if you look at pictures, often look happy!  I highly doubt poor African women spend time criticizing the child rearing techniques of their neighbors.  “Hey, Nala, I practice attachment parenting.  I wear my baby all day and nurse her and sleep with her at night.”  Nala looks at her and says, “Yeah, so do we all.  It’s cause if we set baby down, she’s eaten by a wild animal, you idiot.  And we breastfeed because our water sucks and using formula is unhealthy here.  And we sleep with the kid because hey, we don’t have another bed.  You are not so special.  Pick up a hoe and get back to work.”

Okay, maybe they don’t have conversations quite like that.  They also probably don’t consider the pursuit of happiness.  Like, hey, I have a hut and some crops and most of my family is alive – I’m good!  Whereas here in the states, it has to be a house with at least 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, and you must have a high earning job, and your kids must be involved in several activities as well as make straight As, and on and on and on . . . And after all of that, a woman gets to bed, and she can’t sleep, because her mind still turns.

I won this award after I beat all the other mothers.  I mean beat them up.  Then it was mine!

I won this award after I beat all the other mothers. I mean beat them up. Then it was mine!

“Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she’s not really ill
There’s a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of her mother’s little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day.”

This song was originally written back in 1966.  Three years before, the drug Valium was approved for use in the United States.  Valium is a tranquilizer in a class of drugs that revolutionized the treatment of anxiety.  It was safer than drugs that came before it.  You could get it through your family doctor.  And guess who most users were?  If you said women, bingo, you get a gold star.  Or maybe a little yellow pill.  Take your pick.

This song touches a bit of a, pardon the pun, chord in me.  I take a tranquilizer.  At first I feared that I would get addicted.  I asked my psychiatrist’s nurse.  She said, “Yes, Alice, you could get addicted – if you took half a bottle every day.”  See, I take a very small dose.  But still, I need that dose.  And sometimes it feels like I need it more and more.  How else to get through my busy day?

No problem I got this!

No problem I got this!

How do any of us get through our stressful, busy days with the many, many demands upon us?  They’re different for different people, but everyone deals with stress. Whether it’s work stress, or being without work stress, or children stress, or chronic disease stress, or holy crap why did I get married stress – whatever it is, it’s stress.  And we have it in spades.  And we all need helpers.  But at some point, we have to figure out how to relax.  Or no pills, or yoga techniques, or spa treatments are going to help us.  As the song says,

“They just helped you on your way through your busy dying day.”

Personally, I’d rather live.  But the rest of the world won’t slow down.  I’m not sure when I got on this ride, but I wanna get off.

59 responses

  1. First, I like one song by the Stones…”Paint it black.” Mick Jagger is not, um…easy on the eyes at all?
    Second, being a SuperMom for years, as you know, did me in so to speak. I have never taken a Valium, but I was close friends with Xanax back in the day. Great post WT.

    1. I like the “Paint it Black” song too. I don’t actually know that many Rolling Stones hits, except the “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” which is pretty much the entire song, him saying that over and over and over. And I actually prefer a newer release of the song – sung by a woman. It makes a lot more sense sung by a woman. Otherwise, it’s like the Stones are saying “Pfft, women” which they probably are.

      I don’t take Valium, it’s something called Klonapin. Not sure how similar they are, but they are little yellow pills. We are friends. Little yellow pill says “Do not be super mom. Take a nap.” I’m kidding here, the pill doesn’t actually talk. It does encourage naps, though.

      1. If your little yellow pills aren’t talking to you, take another one. 🙂

        1. Behind the door, I took four more . . .

  2. Great post. I remember this stupid perfume commercial about bringing home the Bacon, frying it up in a pan and not letting you forget your a man. LOL. Come to think of it, I dont remember any kids, though, which makes it a fail.

    Supposedly, ADD meds are the new valium.

    1. Oh, I remember that commercial!!

      1. Enjoli, right? I knew a girl named Enjoli. No, seriously.

        1. Did she make him forget he was a man?

          1. She went to my old church, so I’m sure she was encouraged to make him think he was a man.

    2. Yes, I remember hearing about women taking their children’s Ritalin – only in that case it was an upper rather than a downer. They even had a show on Desperate Housewives in which the mom with the little kids gets hooked on them. Personally, I can’t imagine doing that because they once prescribed me an ADD drug, and I was up for 48 hours straight listening to my heart beat – couldn’t even close my eyes. Yeah, I wasn’t getting tons of work done. Damn it.

  3. “What do people without kids DO all day?” I think this often. And I’m very very tired. I can relate to everything you said here.

    1. It’s an ongoing question. I guess we’ll find out one day, when the kids leave the nest. By then we will be too old to care. What a drag.

      1. no, no, you won’t be too old to care! Son1 just turned 20 and we were like ‘yaaaaaaaaaaaay, two down, one to go!’ (Son2 is 14, so it’s a way to go, but still – it’s ever so much easier than having 3 adolescents in the house)

        1. Oh, my, yeah I guess so. I turned 28 after Thing Two was born, so maybe I’ll be able to regenerate energy . . . I’ll be 48 when she’s 20 . . . that is if I get her out that fast. I hear sometimes they come BACK too. Scary stuff.

          1. We heard that too. Husband instantly started planning to downshift to a caravan, so they couldn’t. But actually they got nice again round about the 20 mark. So maybe they can come back 🙂

  4. Great post!
    I can answer the question “what do people without kids do all day?”
    We watch TV, that’s what. It’s incredibly unfulfilling. But quite relaxing.

    1. My husband watches the TV and I watch the computer and . . . wait, who is watching the kids?

  5. I’m with you. No kids, except an obnoxious step daughter every other weekend, but I have to take a tranquilizer to fall asleep. Along with a whole handful of other shit.

    1. Oh, I have a handful of crap to take too. I keep it in my handy old lady pill box and still managed to forget some things.

  6. I liked this and then had to pause before my comment to clean up a pile of puke. To quote Randy Jackson, “I feel you, dawg.”

    1. Cleaning up piles of puke (and other bodily fluids) never get old. I’ve heard it builds character. If so I have built up a massive tower of character. I actually think if you handed teen girls real live babies and toddlers to care for for a week, they’d swear off becoming parents till at least 35, if at all.

  7. “What do people without kids DO?” Well we, um, we…..okay, so we don’t actually do anything. There, the secret is out now.
    But really, even though I’ve only ever watched moms in action, thank goodness for those helpers! I don’t know how you guys do it.

    1. I don’t either. It helps that I’m incredibly immature and can at times play with my kids. The house is a disaster, and my cooking sucks, but I think I’m the only one who has made a Twilight video with my kids using Barbies covered with glitter. I still have to figure out how to get that loaded up to youtube.

      1. Oh, yes, you MUST get that loaded to YouTube! And post the link here when you do. This is going to be killer cinema!

        1. Oh, it is . . . something anyway. Too bad my tech skills are prehistoric.

          1. Couldn’t you corner some strange 12-year-old boy and ask if he knows how to put “things” on YouTube?

  8. I watch loads of adults without children and what they do. I’m the only one in my social circle that actually has kids. Not terribly surprising, they all seem to enjoy doing absolutely nothing much at all – because they can.

    I remember the Valium days when I was a kid. My mother didn’t take them. She just socially medicated herself, frequently. But my grandmother on the other hand, now she was a piece of work. You see, back then, it wasn’t just the Valium (or equivalent) to help relax in the evenings. Oh no, that wasn’t it at all. In the mornings, if she had a big day ahead of her, or if she wanted to get lots of cleaning, or baking, or reading, or pretty much anything done, she took an upper – also prescribed by her family doc.

    So there she was, she legally took speed several mornings a week and then in the evening, she would chase the downers/Valium with a poor-man’s whiskey sour and sleep like a baby.

    Apparently that sort of medicating is not good for you. I’m not so sure about that though. My grandmother lived to be in her 90s, and during the 70’s was a very happy, productive, and relaxed person. I won’t lie. If I could convince my doc to prescribe for me like that, I would probably be just like her. Unfortunately, my doc won’t even prescribe real pain meds, even though I have real pain. More than once I have had a very mean streak pop up and wave from the dark corner where I keep stuffing it that makes me want to go in and see the doc and drive a nail into my hand to show her how much it doesn’t hurt so that when I complain about pain, she understands that I’m not kidding around. Except that would get awfully messy, and might get me committed – which isn’t covered under our health coverage.

    1. Ironic, isn’t it? My friend’s mother drank like mad for at least 40 years of her life and lived up into her nineties. My relatives seem to drop like fleas. I think people overestimate what role diet and exercise really play in longevity. There are way too many other variables, so who knows?

      If I could occasionally have an upper that didn’t make me feel like my heart was bursting out of my chest? Tempting. Even energy drinks kind of scare the crap out of me. I drink cokes – too many but it beats actual speed, I guess. And doctors and nurses are super great at telling how much pain someone else is in. When I told my doc I had chronic neck pain and that when I turned my head it went CRACK I was informed that I was just old. At 36. I did not find this amusing or helpful. I do hope you find some better pain relief. Chronic pain is a major problem today, and with stressful work / life situations, it’s only getting worse. If only we could slow things down.

      1. You can’t really blame the doctors for dismissing your pain – you can blame the insurance companies who won’t pay for needed pain medication because money, and the government who won’t allow needed pain medication because drugs. The doctors are kinda stuck, and aren’t really allowed to admit that you’re in a great deal of pain – at least, not out loud or on record, or they could be held liable for treating it for you.

        1. Yes, it is really unreal. I was in the hospital last year and the amount they charge for stuff is insane. Then after the hospital charges, the insurance has to try to keep up . . . I was still left with a huge bill even after my insurance paid more than half. Insane.

          1. Insane is right. Criminal is more righter.

  9. You dudes with kids make my head spin. I can’t fathom how you do it. Or why you do it. But I have the biggest respect (yep, even R.E.S.P.E.C.T, thank you Aretha) for you, and the only piece of advice I can offer from a childless 28 year-old is to shut them in a cupboard for 10 minutes a day while you have a piece of cake.

    1. Yes, we have done this – well, not a cupboard but when they’re really small they have these handy baby crib prisons. Once they outgrow that, you can send them to their rooms. Sometimes they pop out again and you have to play whack-a-mole, but I’ve come up with a handy way to get them to leave me alone. Chores. Also, I then don’t have to do all of the dishes or laundry. Granted they don’t do them that well, but at least something is done, which is more than I’d have probably done.

      It also helps to sing along with Aretha.

  10. Very insightful post. Several years ago, when the stress in my job led me to taking antacids (I hate taking any medicine), I knew it was time to change up my job or risk becoming a bitter, muttering old lady. My wonderful employer worked with me and we found an alternative schedule and role. It was a dramatic improvement. Of course, now I’m having fun playing hooky, but when I do go back, I’ll know to listen to my gut (my antacid-free gut…) and take something that won’t let the stress mount out of control.

    1. By the way, do you have two Twitter accounts? When I went to share this post, I saw your tweet from last month saying you had a different account. Just want to make sure I’m following the right one. Haven’t seen you much in Twitter land lately.

      1. I think I do – I’m not sure but somehow I think I made two, and I’m not sure how to delete one or which one to delete. I’ve also probably forgotten my password by now. I am totes organized here.

    2. I’d think writing a book would also be stressful! What’s funny is that my current job is ten times less stressful than the one I had before. The only difference is that the old one was only part-time. I still haven’t gotten used to the full-time aspect of this job. My boss is no longer evil and doesn’t try to make my life miserable, but there are other issues there, the biggest of which is that is a long freaking 9 hours (including lunch). I can’t fathom the ones who do more than that amount of time. Sometimes I feel I shortchange my kids when I have to go home and collapse for a few hours.

      I do know that if my current boss retires and I get another “Satan” I will be seriously considering my options, even if it’s cutting out every luxury and working at Sonic. I spent four years with the “evil one” and that was way too many. Won’t do it again. Not worth it.

      1. Not worth it at all. And it’s okay to need some time to veg when we get home. We’re better mothers when we do. When I got home, I wanted quiet. After a hug to my kids, I’d make dinner and not talk to anyone. By the time it was ready, I was ready to devote my time to them. And I’m sure they preferred it that way. When momma ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy…

  11. My kid is grown now, the Narc kicked to the curb and now my days are filled with work and whatever the hell else I want to do. After kids comes freedom! I don’t watch much TV unless it’s while I’m doing Something Productive like knitting. Or painting my toenails. Or sewing curtains. A nap often follows.

    Hang in there, your time will come. You won’t be “too old” to enjoy it, either, your life will just be starting up again 🙂

    1. Thanks for the words of hope, Sofia. Freeeeedom! You cannot take my Freeeeedom! As Mel would say.

  12. No little yellow pills here, but I may indulge in a couple fingers of whiskey or scotch from time to time in the evenings, after working, and cooking, and cleaning, and taking care of the cats and the garden, and the bills and squeezing in some time with the little prince before he nods off into sleepytime land…

    1. How old is little prince now (that is such an adorable name btw)? Sometimes I miss those days when they were all cuddly and cute and then I wake up and go WTF. Now they are able to do a lot on their own. Not that they do necessarily, but in theory they can. And it is nice to see their little personalities develop – mine have become snarky little devils. So proud.

      You cook and clean? Do you hire out?

      1. I used to hire out – I’m too busy these days to do that any longer though. Unfortunately.
        The little prince turned 4 months last week.
        I can’t wait to watch his personality develop! I’m sure he’s going to be sarcastic just like me. Awesome.

        1. 4 months? Aw. So cute. That’s about my favorite stage – they aren’t wrinkly little lizards anymore, they’ve learned to react and smile, but they can’t yet crawl (unless you are extremely unlucky). Once they’re mobile, look out.

          My children had definite personalities very young. The eldest was so content and happy to stare at the dust motes. The youngest growled like a puppy and chewed on stuff like super glue. Fun times. 😀

          1. The little prince wants everything in his mouth – he already has two teeth and has been teething for almost two months (drool by the bucket loads). Everything he get his little hands on goes street into the gob for a quick nom nom. Toys, fingers, noses… it’s all fair game.

          2. They’re pretty close to puppies, when you get right down to it. Notice the similarities in their toys.

          3. I had noticed, actually. And our cats have noticed that his toys resemble their toys as well. Especially the mobiles. Good times!

  13. I don’t have these kind of commitments, but I still feel your stress. I mean, I can totally understand where you come from. And every Mum and every second or more person I know. In general, I’d say pills are fine to get you out of an acute problem and to get your mind back on track, but in the long run it would be good to live life and enjoy it without the help of chemicals. However, I understand that some people are never able to do that, so no judging whatsoever. At least, not without knowing the situation and the person in question intimately. 🙂

    1. Ah, I think life without chemicals is darn near impossible unless you live like the Amish. They do help me, or I wouldn’t take them (I tried without and that was much worse.) It’s the only way I can hope to enjoy life as my brain chemicals themselves are out of whack, but if you can do without, that’s great too. Whatever works.

  14. I don’t have any kids, and I can’t imagine either how any of you guys do it, or how I would if I were thrust into the situation. As with everything else, you make the time by taking more away from yourself. Miss Pink and I feel like we’re busy all the time, but if we really examined the causes, a lot of it is by choice. (Like my blogging for example. If we had kids, this would be a once-a-week affair at best.)

    With addiction running in both sides of my family, I too feel the desire to get a little “help” … but having seen a few in my parents’ generation go down some dark roads never to return, I think it’s in my own best interest to go without.

    1. I can understand that. I feared the addiction thing too, and the drug I take is listed as a controlled substance. But it would take a LOT in order to get me seriously addicted, and I do not take that much. If I had that in my family, though, I would be even more careful. The worst thing is to treat something like depression with alcohol, which is a depressant so not a big help for sure.

      I used to blog once a day, and now it’s a few times a week, depending on what Ideas I have or not. Often I have one or two of the kids hanging about, but at least they are 9 and 12 now. If it’s something that’s not for them, they are shooed, but they also enjoy some of the less adult things I write. They are an easily entertained audience and sometimes an inspiration. The kids have grown up on my lap in front of the computer as I wrote. Amazing the things you can get done with determination.

  15. Alice, this is such a timely for me, wouldn’t you agree?! It’s interesting to read after writing mine. Life is hard, but I’m not sure why it has to be so hard. I think a lot of people with less (less material things and less psychological stress) are much happier! We pursue what we are told or expect will make us happy. Great post, miss!

    1. I would! I thought the same as I read your post. It’s nice to know you aren’t alone in this mess, isn’t it? And maybe it helps us not be so hard on ourselves to know it’s not just us. Even if we’re just treading water each day, we’re making some headway. A little at a time . . .

  16. I need to be the lone dissenter. I thought that Mick Jagger was hot when I was 13, and I still think so now.

    And now, since I have no kids, I will go back to fantasizing about Mick Jagger.

    1. Well, the guy did manage to marry models, I’ll give him that.

  17. Even in a religious community life is hectic.

    There’s just too much going on. I think things were better before technology.

    1. I was just thinking – I should have joined a religious community. It’s so calm there. It’d be perfect except for the whole not sure about God issue. And the keeping quiet.

      1. Calm? No. Trust me, it’s not. It’s living with a bunch of women, some of whom you’d be friends with anyway, but some of whom you’d not choose to spend time with if you could at all help it, and there’s guaranteed to be someone to wind you up and know what buttons to press, and there will be days when everything is really horrible and all you want to do is scream at EVERYONE to go away and leave you alone but you can’t do that because you’re all supposed to love each other.

        There are days when there’s something in the air and everyone just snaps at everyone else for no reason. Days when everything that can go wrong, will and does. Days when the only escape is to go for a long walk by myself or to practice my flute.

        Seriously. Even though the majority of the Sisters here are post-menopausal, I’m sure the hormonal cycle continues because they still get PMT.

  18. “Kids + Spouse / Significant Other + Life = Freaking Tired” – if you try to divide your spouse by your significant other, things can get really complicated…
    As for what people without kids do – I make up for the lack of children with work. (with lunches, commute, gym at work, and actual work, is at least 60 hours every week). The rest is pretty much divided between blogging and sleeping. I don’t know what I’ll do when I have kids.

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