“We have met the enemy and he is us.” ~Pogo
Zoe looks in the mirror and cringes at her reflection because she doesn’t recognize herself. Evidence of sleepless nights and the hollowness she feels inside is written on her face in the form of dark circles under her eyes. She shifts her 6 month old baby to the other hip and closes her eyes. In doing so she tries to create a moment of peace for herself, but in her mind’s eye all she can see is her never ending to do list. Laundry. Dishes. Vacuuming. Cleaning bottles. And what the heck is for dinner? People tell her not to worry about housework with a new baby, but if she doesn’t who will? None of the women who have given her this “advice” have actually volunteered help in any real way.
Zoe hears the baby grunt and gets a big whiff of something foul. Grimacing, she gingerly takes off the soiled diaper and reaches for another only to find they’re gone! How could she be out? She berates herself for being so stupid. She grabs a burp cloth and some duct tape, her heart heavy at not being a better mom. She redresses the baby and loosely wraps a receiving blanket around him to hide the makeshift diaper. Her phone vibrates in her back pocket. Taking it out she reads the incoming text reads, “I’ll be home late from work. Don’t wait up for me.” Eyes stinging she throws the phone down onto her bed in frustration and sits on the floor in a heap. Evenings with the baby are the worst. Soon as 5pm hits, James starts shrieking and doesn’t stop until he’s asleep. Dealing with his colic is manageable with her husband there to tag team, but when she’s alone, which has been a lot this week, it’s soul-crushing. The baby rolls over to her and let’s out a yelp of glee. She smiles, picks him up and stands to face herself in the mirror again.
With a sigh she wipes her eyes then lifts her chin. Rallying, she puts on her makeup, relishing the feeling of getting dressed up, if only to stop at the store to pick up diapers. She glances at the drawer holding a favorite pair of pre-baby skinny jeans and bites her lip. Does she dare? Opening it she pulls them out and puts them on. They fit! Well, not buttoned, but close enough! Throwing on a longer shirt and a cute scarf to seal the deal she breathes a sigh of relief. Dressing as her old self makes something inside her feel alive again. She is not only a mom, but a person. An individual. Someone of value in and of herself.
Slinging the diaper bag over her shoulder she bolts out the door to Target before any more mishaps occur.
Parking near an abandoned shopping cart, she straps the baby in it and walks toward the store. Once inside she breathes a sigh of relief. “I did it!” She thinks. “We made it out of the house.” She grabs a box of diapers, wipes, and a frozen dinner for herself. Pausing, she whips out her phone and tries her best to keep a neutral face as she checks her joint checking account. $67.32. Her limbs go numb as she stares at her phone in disbelief. She puts back the frozen dinner, not realizing her baby is currently making an escape attempt out of the cart. A man close by lets out a small shout of warning. Zoe snaps to and grabs the baby, avoiding eye contact with the other shopper out of embarrassment. He shakes his head and keeps walking. But once Jake* is around the corner he pulls out his phone and posts to his Facebook account:
Passing by the makeup section she allows herself to stroll down an aisle, looking at the beautifully packaged products and perfectly photoshopped faces staring back at her. She picks up a new shade of lipstick and holds it, imagining how it might look. But then hearing her baby’s stomach gurgle lurches her back to into reality and she quickly puts the lipstick back and makes a beeline for the checkout before her baby makes a mess of his DIY diaper. A woman in the makeup aisle notices Zoe and is flabbergasted that she’s all dressed up at 3pm on a Wednesday. She writes:
Zoe checks out, makes it back to the car, unloads the groceries, returns the cart, and buckles the protesting baby back into his seat. Hands on hips she leans back to stretch her aching back, then reaches up to close the trunk door.
While walking toward her car in the parking lot, Tanya saw her reach up and got a peek of Zoe’s middle and unbuttoned pants. Smirking she posts a meme:
Sliding behind the wheel Zoe lets herself briefly bask in the success of her Target run. She turns to beam at her baby in the back seat and tells him, “We did it! And no one would even believe the awful night and morning we had.”
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Rude Facebook posts based on actual posts about moms the author has viewed in her own newsfeed from “friends.”
* Names changed to protect the guilty.