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Surrendering My Mom Card

Growing up, I always knew I'd be a mom. I pictured it in my head often. The joy of loading up three freckled faces wearing little league uniforms into a high-end SUV, as my gorgeous and amazingly attentive husband loads a cooler into the back, attending parent teacher conferences between court cases in my power suit, hosting fundraisers for the PTA.

It was all picture perfect. But as each year passed, I would look around in disappointment.

Twenty attentive husband or even any viable prospects. That's ok, I don't necessarily have to be a particularly young mom. I mean, it's probably better to wait until I'm more financially established anyway. Twenty eight...not even an attentive boyfriend. boyfriend, crush or even a decent stalker.

At this point I'm starting to loosen my requirements. Ok, so maybe not gorgeous...just average. Maybe not attentive...just moderately courteous. Age thirty two. Ok, looks aren't important anyway. But he absolutely has to be taller than me and have a job. Thirty four...ok, I can slouch. But he definitely has to be employed! That's non negotiable.

Thirty six. You know, if he's already financially set, he doesn't really need to be employed. So it's not a total deal-breaker.

Thirty eight. By this time I'd lowered my standards significantly.

1. No more than 10 years older or younger than me.

2. No communicable diseases.

3. No pending criminal charges or lawsuits.

By forty, I was just hoping to find someone with a pulse that wasn't a serial killer. But as my dream slowly faded, my desire to be a mother grew stronger and when the opportunity to adopt became a reality, I jumped at the chance.

She was absolutely perfect; shiny blonde hair and bright blue eyes, with a sass I envied. Smart as a whip and funnier than my favorite comedian. Little, warm hands that held my face for kisses and a giggle that stopped my heart. She exceeded my wildest dreams.

I reimagined my future. There I was with my little partner in crime. Twinning in our jeans and Aerosmith t-shirts as we walked, hand in hand through the mall with our Nordstrom bags. Me sipping a chai tea and she nursing her juice box.

In all of my visions of future family, I never once questioned my ability to be the person I saw in my mind. I loved kids. I had always wanted to be a mom. I knew it wouldn't be easy. But I was confident in my abilities and just knew I had everything it took to be a good mom.

We started our life together. She woke with a smile, had opinions on absolutely everything, and sang consistently throughout the day. She was fulfilling the role as my dream child. Incidents were minor and infrequent. A temper tantrum here, an exhausted meltdown there. Nothing earth-shattering.

But, as the days ticked by, I was realizing I was incapable of being the mother I had painted myself into. Fantasy movie clips continued to play in my head, as I tallied up all the ways I fell short. I wasn't a bad mother by any means, but there was just something wrong...something missing that I couldn't quite put my finger on.

Then one Thursday evening, it all became clear to me when I saw my rice. Mommery. I dumped the soggy, soupy pot of mush into the trashcan and slid to the kitchen floor and wept. What ever made me think I could be a mother? I can't even do the most basic and innate, maternal things!

Nobody is good at everything, of course. But there are things that all moms can do. Every female is equipped with mommery glands that begin to develop when she becomes a mother. Not to be confused with mammary glands, once fully matured, mommery glands provide the woman with all of the basic "mom skills" that God intended.

Moms make delicious grilled cheese sandwiches. All moms. It's a fact. I challenge you to scientifically prove otherwise. It’s just something that’s a given. The sun rises in the East and sets in the West. Things fall due to gravity. Moms make great grilled cheese sandwiches.

Before giving his stamp of approval on a new mom, God goes down the checklist of mommery skills and great grilled cheese sandwiches is most definitely in the top five. This heavenly checklist of natural talents also includes other mom characteristics such as the ability to hear cartoons from any room in the house, create an “A” level diorama in less than an hour, and find items in the refrigerator that are seemingly invisible to all other family members.

I can do many of these things. I can do most of these things. I can reach the back seat and successfully thwart a wrestling match in the car, while driving an LA freeway. I can plan and conduct a pet funeral at a mere moment’s notice. I can unzip an impossibly stuck backpack zipper. But there are just some mom staples that I am completely incapable of and thus threaten my right to be called mom.

White rice, nearly everyone can make white rice. And without question, every mom can make it. It’s easy, right? Two ingredients, three if you add salt. The most simple of instructions. Yet I end up with soupy mush or crunchy grains every time. EVERY TIME.

Hair. I’m not talking about an inverted French braid with a double lutz and a triple salchow. Just a ponytail. I am completely incapable of creating a ponytail without lumps, bumps, tangles and other unwanted debris. Pigtails?

Forget about it! I’ll end up with one up high, holding 70% of the hair, and one down low with 20%, while the other 10% waives wildly around the child’s head in a Medusa-like mambo.

Changing a dirty diaper without vomiting is probably my biggest mom fail. Thankfully, my daughter was successfully potty trained by the time she came to live with me, so it was only a minor problem. But on more than one occasion, I have tossed my cookies immediately after (or during) changing a child's diaper. On one occasion, my niece informed her mother that I shouldn’t change her diaper again because she didn’t want to be “throwed up on”.

So, rice, hair, diapers…what else? Oh yeah, directions. No matter how many times I've been somewhere, I still get lost on the drive. I have absolutely no concept of direction. If I call you because I'm lost and you tell me to go North, I immediately know that I'm supposed to go "up" and I go forward. South, of course, means down (or backward) and East and West are right and left, respectively.

Heaven forbid you suggest I determine my direction by the location of the sun. I will hang up on you without question.

My directional vertigo has resulted in countless late birthday party arrivals, strings of profanity and endless frustration. Thankfully, the creation of the GPS has allowed me to resume some sort of a normal life. Pre-GPS I had to factor in at least 15 minutes of "lost time" for every hour of driving. Which occasionally would result in me being a half hour early for an event.

The only problem with GPS, is I don't have enough directional awareness to know when it's wrong. So, I will follow the directions to another state, all the while wondering why the drive to Costco is taking so long this week.

So, as I sheepishly stand in line to relinquish my Mom Card, I envision my future as a grandmother. My daughter stands with her ruggedly handsome husband in front of her minivan as I slowly usher out a string of little ones with popsicle stained faces and arms full of unnecessary toys.

"Sorry, honey," I say, looking at my now grown daughter. "We didn't have the chance to take naps today. The good news is, you probably won't need to make dinner because we all just shared a family sized bag of Skittles and a Dr. Pepper." The vision makes me smirk.

I place my card on the counter and a distinguished looking angel in a white robe picks it up. "Mrs. Carter," he reads. "Oh yes!" he giggles. "We've been waiting for you. I do apologize for the inconvenience. Boy, we really f-ed that one up, didn't we?"

He files my card in the "To Be Shredded" bin as I try to overlook the fact that I'm being mocked by a man with a dress on.

"Is there anything else I can help you with today Mrs. Carter?"

"No thank you," I say, as I turn to leave. I pause and turn back. "Um, actually, is this where I pick up my Grandma Card?"

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