My Least Favorite (Unspoken) Duty


Okay, we all know that Moms have many unspoken duties that are not necessarily written into The Motherhood Contract. You ladies DID sign your Motherhood Contracts, right? Now we know some duties just come with the territory, like “Boo-Boo Kisser.” Every mom kisses boo-boos. And, then there’s the “Head-Holder-as-my Child-Pukes.” Another given. Of course, this job ceases when your teen comes home smashed after “it was just a party.” Uh-uh, that child is on his own then. And, when the kids are little, you are their “Teeth Brusher,” “Butt-Wiper,” and “Potty-Training Cheerleader.” Those are all built-in responsibilities of being a mom.

What I am talking about are ones you didn’t think about while you were basking in the glow of your first pregnancy. Like “Bug Killer.” It never dawned on me that I would have to smush every single bug that got near my toddler. The big bugs? Okay. I don’t mind smashing a giant roach that’s darting across the floor. That falls under sanitation and fear suppression. My toddler had such an aversion to ants, gnats, microscopic insects that only she could see, I began to feel guilty about all of the killing. I was sure I was upsetting the balance of nature.

Another duty I never thought of was “Sticker Scraper.” I don’t know why but the teachers in my children’s preschool gave out Dora the Explorer and Disney Princess stickers for the most minor accomplishment like shutting the door before going to the bathroom. Every morning when strapping my darling into her car seat, I would notice another sticker plastered to the window. Of course, by the time I got home that day, I had forgotten about the most recent sticker, and so they turned into a strange collage of girl heros, flowers with faces, and crown wearing women. One Saturday morning, it took me hours to scrap off the mural of characters. I used every product that promised easy removal of adhesive: Cooking oil, Goo-Gone, rubbing alcohol,… There was nothing easy about this. I finally resorted to a combination of Fantastic and razor blades. Unfortunately, when my son went through this stage with Skylander stickers, I could not use the same technique because he plastered them all over his new dresser. Needless to say, they are still there. So, no, I did not count on being a “Sticker Scraper” and yes, I am resentful.

I certainly am not fond of being the “Mystery Food Identifier,” primarily because my family is proficient at shoving Tupperware to the back of the fridge. It seems that every week I am pulling out some plastic tub, opening it up hoping not to catch some airborne disease, wiggling the tub trying to figure out what this mystery meat or veggie was: Pork or chicken? Hard to tell with the slime. Green beans or asparagus? Um, not sure what kind of mold goes with what kind of green vegetable. Monterary Jack or white chedder cheese? I guess it doesn’t matter since they all hit the garbage can anyway. It’s just an extra duty that makes me gag.

None of those unspoken duties are fun, but the role I think I hate the most is “Finder of all Things.” And, the reason I detest this duty is that I am a slave to my family’s laziness. What about gender screams, “Ask me. I know where everything is”? Is it the estrogen? Is it because I have mature ovaries? And, this does not just apply to my children. My husband cannot seem to find one pair of black socks in a drawer full of white socks.

I call everyone in my house a “Bad Looker.” Katie says, “Mom, where are my school sneakers?” I want to say something very natural like, “I don’t know. Where did you last put them?” That would be logical. Instead I rattle off a list of places these sneakers can be hiding. Five minutes (naw, that’s too generous) two minutes later, she is yelling over the balcony, “I can’t find them. I’ve looked everywhere. They’re missing.” (Heavy sigh). It does not matter than I am in the middle of cooking dinner…on a gas stove…with hot oil. I have to drop what I am doing to walk upstairs, turn over two things in her room, to reveal that indeed, she did NOT look everywhere. “Katie, you are a bad looker.”

“I know,” she says with a giggle.” Yeah, not so funny.

This weekend, Katie had to go to the softball field for evaluations before the association selects teams. It took Katie and her father an hour to search for all her softball equipment, and it was a bust. Katie started panicking and her voice was reaching that combination whine and cry, so I thought it was time to intervene. “I’ll go look in the garage,” I said. My husband, the King of Bad Lookers, said with a hint of annoyance, “I already looked there.” I irritated him more when I said, “I know.”

I trekked out to the garage, walked in the side door, lifted up some pillows and buckets piled together and saw Katie’s red softball bag, complete with balls, mitt, and batting gloves. The helmet was under some picnic chairs, and the bat was under that. The entire event took me five minutes, and most of that was digging under the rubbish to get to the items I found.

What cracked me up the most is the response I got when I brought in these long lost objects.

Katie: Oh, thank God, Mom, You found them. Where were they? I looked everywhere.

Mike: Really? You found them in the garage? I swear I looked everywhere. I mean everywhere. Where could they possibly have been?

Me: Right inside the door under a pile of buckets and pillows.

Katie: Oh, yeah, I didn’t look there.

Mike: Oh (just plain Oh).

Now, I am not a mom who expects appreciation for this skill that I perform at least four times a day. However, just once I would like my kids and husband to simply acknowledge that, well, that…that they could not live without me. It’s true. If I keeled over tomorrow, probably from spending time in the hot garage looking for someone’s softball equipment, Spider Man books, or last year’s lunch box my family would never find anything again. (With their record, they might not even find my dead body. That is, until it began to stink, but since they do not clean out the refridgerator, they would think my rotting corpse was just some really old milk. Who knows how long I could be there?) Unless they accidentally tripped over what they were looking for or just started to leave things out in plain sight, they would be running to stores for replacements. Then again, knowing the King of Bad Lookers, he would call his mother to come over to search and find. She, like me, is an expert looker, a fabulous finder of all objects hidden and in plain sight. Come to think of it, maybe it is the mature ovary thing.

4 thoughts on “My Least Favorite (Unspoken) Duty

  1. Mike "King of Bad Lookers" Turner

    Ok. Here is your one time as requested.

    I could not live without you.

    More importantly, I would never want to live without you.


  2. Teri

    I would add Archaeologist to that. I seem to have to find out the basic time frame of when something was seen last, then dig the layers until I reach that era. Yes, I have an “organized mess”.
    And that is so sweet and romantic coming from my little brother! Ahhh. You are such a good guy, Michael! Sorry, guess I have to start calling you “Mike”. It’ll take a while. But it’s hard when I remember you as “Mickle the Pickle”!
    And Cara, you’re a better woman than I, Gunga Din! I couldn’t hold their heads for long as they puke, or clean it up that well. I was always too busy holding back my own projectiles.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s