“All join hands,” said the tall red-haired woman whose name-tag read Jen. About five of the women were named Jen. Maybe I’ll tell them my name is Jen too so there will be less confusion, I thought. Or maybe that would make things more confusing.
“We, the members of Mommies Anonymous, are here to help one another. Let’s recite our 12-step creed:
- We admit we are powerless over our children, our lives have become unmanageable
- We have come to believe that our children sometimes have more power than ourselves, and that basically sucks
- We recognize that we can gain strength by having an hour to ourselves each day
- We examine our past errors (such as putting the TV on a 3-hour loop of SpongeBob) and we ask for help
- We admit our previous mistakes, seek forgiveness and move forward
- We seek to live a new life with the Mommies in charge, not the kids
- We will support other members”
I wanted to ask about the other five steps (hadn’t they said 12 steps?) but didn’t want to seem rude by interrupting.
A different Jen (she was blond and wore a green sweater with some sort of stain near the collar, maybe coffee) turned to me. “Welcome.”
Everyone else said Welcome.
“And in case you are wondering,” coffee-stain Jen said, “about the other five steps in the 12—we’re busy moms. We had to edit.”
I thought this was really funny, so I laughed. I was the only one who laughed, which is why I realized she was serious.
“Who wants to go first?” asked another woman in a black t-shirt. Her name-tag was messy, but I’m pretty sure she'd scribbled Jennifer.
“I will,” said a petite lady with short jet black hair and no name-tag. “My name is Janice, and I have two-year-old twins.”
A lot of people, myself included, gasped. Geesh! Two-year-old twins! I had an eight-year-old and a five-year-old, why was I even here? What could I possibly complain about?
“Boys,” continued Janice, “I should tell you the twins are boys.”
Little murmurs of sympathy were heard, “Ohhhhhhh.” “Mmm-hmm.” “You poor thing.”
Janice gathered her thoughts and went on: “Their toys are everywhere. I found a boat in the toilet, I have no idea how it got there. Shoes in the refrigerator. Daily. One refuses to take a nap anymore, so he wakes up his brother. We went to the library the other day and I said hi to a friend and then I realized one twin had ripped up a book and the other one was escaping out the front door.”
I exchanged a glance with another mom. The glance said, “I’ve been there.”
Janice looked at her watch. “They are probably awake right now, and my husband will be calling me at any moment.”
As if on cue, someone’s cell phone rang.
“I. Am. Losing. My. Mind.” Janice ran her fingers through her short hair.
“Well, Janice,” said another mom, “Thank you for sharing your story. I am going to give you the number of my sitter. I think you could benefit from her coming by for a few hours once or twice a week.”
If Janice wasn’t going to cry before, she did now.
“Thank you, thank you!” She jumped up and hugged the other woman.
“Who wants to go next?”
I raised my hand. “Hello, my name is MOV, and my sons fight 24 hours a day.”
Suddenly all heads swiveled to me. They nodded sympathetically.
“I try to be a good mom, I don’t let them eat cookies for breakfast anymore and we limit our TV viewing to less than one hour a day. Okay, two. I remind the boys to do their homework, but I admit I never check it. I make them go outside to the backyard to run around and get rid of that excess energy, but someone is always injured in the first 10 minutes.”
More sympathetic murmurs.
“I just feel … I feel … what’s the word I’m looking for?”
“Tired,” said a dozen moms in unison.
That’s when I knew I was in the right place.
(“Moms Ordering Vino”)