WITH APOLOGIES TO MERYL STREEP
Written by The Editor
A little Meryl for your Monday. The Great One once said, “Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials.” I’m sure this is true of someone’s motherhood, but it definitely isn’t true of my experience. I either feel like a Sherpa when my kids and I are on-the-go, or a hoarder when we are home. Life with two kids in the city seems to always be about excess, more, and still more.
Take, for example, the instructions that my son’s ice skating camp (I know, I know) sent me about what I should pack in his camp bag. I was told to include the following: A light jacket or sweater, gloves (for the ice), a full change of clothes (in case of accidents), shorts to change into for when they’re not ice skating, and a helmet. I realized that my son would probably also need spare gloves (he loses everything), and a second set of spare socks, for when he inevitably felt uncomfortable from wet socks after skating.
It is at these moments when “spare” things are called for, that I am grateful I am a collector of extra things “just in case.” I have multiples of all kinds of my kid’s clothing – including several outfits I don’t even like – for the express purpose of leaving at a camp or school as the spare pair. These are the items that you usually don’t get back – even if your child has never even had an accident or reason to use them. I have no idea how this happens, so I’ve just chalked it up to the mysteries of life, like where do socks go when you wash them and why are children blessed with endless energy while their parents are so tired?
I’ve seen houses where people’s belongings have been reduced to just the minimal things one would need to thrive. “Pretend you’re moving to Paris tomorrow. Throw out everything you wouldn’t take with you.” Looking at pictures of homes like this gives me the sweats, as I attempt the mental gymnastics to figure out how I could possibly achieve the same look without being disowned from my family for throwing all their crap out. It’s impossible. The kids need too much stuff for that to happen. God knows if I went minimal, I’d throw out the extra set of gloves that my son hates, and when a packing list called for a spare pair, I’d be shit out of luck.
As I took my Sharpie to each item, giving myself a migraine trying to figure out how to label black ski gloves that only have one tiny white label on only one glove, I thought of all the good moms who probably already sewed labels onto their children’s clothing at the beginning of summer. I briefly wished I knew how to sew, or cared enough to try. It was close to midnight when I had neatly packed everything in compartments and Ziplocs, which made me feel very Suzie Homemaker, even though I knew he would return the bag home the next day in complete disarray, with most of the items missing. I would ask him where his other glove was, and he would probably shrug and run off to play Minecraft, like it’s a problem he has nothing to do with. Like I could just easily take the hour plus subway ride to his camp and hunt for the spare glove myself.
I was about to make my way towards the bathroom to get ready for bed (and wash off the Sharpie marks from my hands) when I realized I still hadn’t packed for my younger son’s camp. Jesus Christ. On his list: Spare clothes, multiple pairs of underwear (for accidents), a water bottle (in case he doesn’t like the plastic cups provided), and a nut-free snack. I pulled the ol’ Sharpie back out of its home and went to town scribbling my other son’s name on everything that would go into his little backpack, knowing full well that the burden of carrying it would fall on my or my husband’s shoulders.
From the looks of the two bags patiently sitting by our front door, awaiting their rides to summer camps new and wondrous, one would think these kids were going on an overnight trip and not a few hours away from our house. So, sorry Meryl. My motherhood includes lots of non-essential shit and I’m here for it. I’ve got spares on spares on spares – you know – just in case.