Mine, Mine, MINE!

Slacker Mom Says... motherhood can make you feel like you're living in a Communist state. It might be time to reclaim what's yours.

I have a confession to make: I no longer like to share. With anyone. At all. And I really don't care who knows it. I'm like Joey on "Friends", on that episode where he refuses to share his French fries with the girl he's dating. "Joey doesn't share food!" he yells. Well, that's become me, only not just with food - with everything.

Oh, sure, I used to make sure to "model" those skills, and I prided myself on the fact that my firstborn never went through a "mine" phase that most toddlers do. (Now I realize that it had more to do with her personality and less to do with my stellar parenting skills - thanks to child #2. But that's a different story.) I used to insist that everyone share everything, from blankets to cookies to crayons. Share your toys at playdates, your Goldfish crackers at preschool, the couch with your sister. Want a bite of Mommy's dinner? No problem! I'll share.

But that was before - before I realized that I no longer have ANYTHING that is all mine. I share a room, a bed, a bathroom, a closet with my husband. My kitchen table is usually covered with homework and art projects and leftover apple slices; my lovingly-tended flower garden has jump ropes and princess figurines lying about. There are Legos and Barbies on the family room floor, even though they each have their own rooms AND a gorgeous playroom. Even my cat has a doll bonnet on his head and a pink bow stuck on his tail. (No joke. He's very tolerant, and lazy enough that it'll likely still be there when they get home from school.) This morning, I found a Webkinz in my bed. I'm pretty sure it's not mine.

Once you become a mom, it's like you're suddenly living in a Communist state: You own nothing, it's all communal property, and a dictator will take your stuff and redistribute it at will. My body, once strong and hard and decked out in designer fashions, became first a milk factory and then a giant napkin for kids to wipe off whatever they found on their hands. (I have a picture of ketchup-y handprints on a white t-shirt covering my eight-months-pregnant belly.) My mind, once used for writing insightful papers on the rise of socialism or the fall of apartheid, is now barely able to remember a newspaper headline, though I can recite Goodnight Moon and The Very Busy Spider from memory.

My car? A total mom-mobile, a disco-blue SUV complete with car seats, stale graham crackers, and school spirit magnets. I used to carry cute handbags that would barely contain the essentials: ID, money, lipstick. Now I could feed a third-world country with the Cheerios at the bottom of my bag, and I've got enough stickers to entertain a classroom full of Kindergartners.  My scissors are always missing, even though my kids have their own stuff on their own desks in their own rooms. And don't ask what they did with my toothbrush. You don't want to know. I don't want to know. I'll just get a new one.

But it's not just the kids. If I open a soda, my husband materializes out of thin air, asking, "Can I have a sip?" And of course, his idea of a sip is about half the can. If I grab a brownie, he's at my side: "Are you going to finish that?" Um, yeah, that was the general idea. I may not have a law degree, but I'm pretty sure that community property laws do not apply to dessert.

As moms, we can so easily lose ourselves when caring for our families. We put them first, their needs way ahead of ours, forgetting that we need to care for ourselves, too. But why? If the kids sit in front of the TV while I finish a cup of coffee before it goes cold and look over the newspaper, that's just fine. Thirty minutes of the boob tube won't take more than a point or two off their IQs, right? And if my husband has to get his own Oreos out of the cookie jar instead of eating mine, he'll live. Furthermore, why do my daughters look like they've just stepped out of the latest Justice or Abercrombie catalogs, while I'm wearing a Target t-shirt from 2002? When - and how - did THAT happen? I used to wear Armani!

And - perhaps most importantly - what am I teaching my daughters about their roles as mothers someday? Will they think that they have no right to a life of their own once they become mothers? That is absolutely not what I want for them; why did I let it happen to me?

So I've decided that enough is enough. If I make myself a piece of toast, no one had better ask me for a bite. Wait two minutes and I'll make you a piece. Better yet, make your own toast! If I just poured a cup of coffee  and opened the paper, don't even speak to me unless there's blood or vomit involved in your "emergency." When I get a new nail polish or CD, you'd better believe that I'll be the first one to use it. If I'm on the treadmill, wait until I'm done - or solve your problem yourself. And no, you can't have a sip of my diet Dr. Pepper. It's mine, mine, mine, all mine! (Insert evil laugh here.)

Slacker Mom Says... don't practice what you preach all the time. It's OK to say, "No, that's Mommy's, and you may  NOT have any of it." It's OK to make the rest them wait while we paint our nails, finish a workout, or check e-mail. I may have to eat my lunch at 10:30 in the morning, but I am going to make sure that I have some time each day that belongs only to me. And I'm going to reclaim the family room as a toy-free zone. And no one uses my hairbrush anymore. And the French fries at the bottom of the bag? Mine! And the roses on my birthday cake? MINE! (Insert evil laugh here.)




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