The Mom Stop: Packed with powers of super-mom
Moms have super powers.
For some, it’s cooking amazing meals that happen to be organic, gluten-free, low-calorie, no carb or “Whole 30” while having an infant on one hip and a screaming toddler at their heels. For other moms, it may be keeping a super-clean house despite working 40 hours outside the home. Some of my mom friends are super-organized and seem to have a super-human skill to keeping everything in order, from a day-by-day rundown of the family schedule on a wall-sized magnetic calendar, to file folders for each child’s homework and artwork. Looking for that newsletter sent home by the PTA 2 months ago? This mom has it. Need to know the date of next semester’s field trip? She probably has it memorized.
Other moms have superhero patience, able to calm any child’s meltdown or temper-tantrum with ease — these are usually the moms who never get frazzled, who always talk in calm, supportive voices, whose children are well-behaved 90 percent of the time. Often, these moms are teachers in their professional lives. And some moms are blessed with multiple abilities, able to “do it all” — attending play dates, working out, volunteering at the local hospital, at church or the PTA, and still getting to work each morning in full makeup, all while still being successful in their career.
I’ve determined I have none of these powers. (Full disclosure, I almost never wear makeup at work.) I do my best — I volunteer when I can and I try (and often fail) at being organized when it comes to my family’s hectic schedule. My house would be unkempt if it weren’t for a bi-monthly housekeeper, and if it weren’t for my husband pitching in by cooking at least 75 percent of the meals, I think our family would starve.
My mom’s superhero skill was as a professional juggler — tackling her career, an active social life, being a single mom for two girls and getting stuff done when it needed to be done. It’s a skill that, to this day, she succeeds at. I’d like to think that I inherited some of that — holding down a full-time job, plus writing this column and teaching part-time on the side.
But so much of the time, I find myself lacking. Maybe it’s how all moms feel.
And so, I’ve set out to find my supermom skill. My kids think I have eyes on the back of my head, but in all honesty, that’s just the rear-view mirror in my van.
Recently, I think I discovered my gift, or maybe it was always there: Packing. Need to fit an antique, mahogany dining room table with six Duncan Phyfe lyre chairs in the back of a Honda CRV? I’m your person. My father-in-law once swore that there’s no way that we’d fit a dining room table, six chairs and a round kitchen table in the back of his Ford Expedition. But, with a little maneuvering, we did.
Perhaps it’s because I’m good at puzzles. Perhaps it’s because, when I was in junior high school, I scored the highest in mechanics on a career interest exam. Maybe it’s because I’m a very “visual” person and I like a challenge. But when it comes to packing a family five for a beach trip or a 7-hour road trip, when it comes to ensuring our family has everything it needs for week-long vacation at Disney World or a cross-country trip to visit a grandparent, this mom has it down.
I enjoy packing. I like picking out outfits, putting them in the appropriate suitcases. Despite my lack or organizational skills when it comes to clutter in my house, I’m a hound when it comes to-do lists and mental checklist. I’ve been known to pack my kids’ clothes in labeled Ziploc bags. Need swimsuits and towels for five? Got it. What about my son’s Batman goggles and my oldest child’s favorite flip-flops? Already packed. What about the 1,001 sippy cups, pacifiers, diapers and wipes needed? Done.
Packing for a family vacation stresses out my husband. But it’s something I savor, layering each suitcase just so, like a game of Tetris involving a pack-n-play, a stroller and our family minivan. I may be lacking in a lot of other areas, but when it comes to packing for summer vacations, this mom has it down. That’s got to count for something.
— Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.