Yesterday the Daily Fave introduced a special guest blogger: Jenny Feldon, winner of the "Meaning of Motherhood" essay contest. Read Jenny's winning essay, and stay tuned all week to find out how Jenny faces the crazy and wonderful world of Motherhood.
Today, read on to see how Jenny figures out who takes the credit for "the good stuff"...
My aunt is visiting one afternoon. Eva and I are picking up toys from the living room floor. Jay is typing an email on his Blackberry.
"Look what a good mommy your wife is," my aunt says. "She's doing such a great job teaching Eva to clean up after herself."
Jay glances up. "I taught her that." Then he returns to his email.
As an at-home mom, I spend roughly 84 waking hours a week with Eva. We pick up toys. We put books back on the shelf. We vacuum smushed cookies from the carpet. We sing the "Clean-Up" song. And yet -- miracles of miracles! -- Jay is somehow responsible for her learning to clean up after herself.
I growl. Jay ignores me. I clear my throat, loud. Jay ignores me. I throw a plastic duck at his head.
"What?!? What did I do?"
Eva's our very own parrot. She loves to imitate us. She sits in her high chair while Jay makes pancakes in the morning, flipping her own wrist back and forth. She rubs her cheeks and splashes imaginary water when I wash my face. She mimics our expressions, our good habits and our bad ones. I nearly died the first time she yelled "Move!" when she wanted me to get out of her way (Jay's fault.) Jay was less than thrilled when she pulled a coffee cup off the kitchen table and tried to drink it (my fault.) We know we're being watched, we know who to blame the bad stuff on. But who's supposed to be taking credit for the good stuff?
When someone compliments me on Eva's language skills, or her ability (usually) to say please and thank you, I'm all modesty. "It's her," I say. She's a really smart kid. I'm just helping her along. But behind closed doors, when it's just Jay and I, we battle each other for bragging rights.
"She can recite the alphabet! I got it on video!" (Jay)
"She can count to five! Listen!" (Me)
"She knows the color green!" (Jay)
"Nice try. She thinks every color is green." (Me)
It's ridiculous, really. We're both insanely proud of her. We're the only two people on the planet that think she's a musical prodigy, a future Nobel prize winner and possibly a candidate in the 2052 presidential election. So why do we compete for the rights to her accomplishments? We're both loving her, teaching her, helping her find her way. It should be easy to pat each other on the back and say "Great job, honey. She's turning out just fine."
Except it feels so good to win.
"You did NOT teach her that," I inform Jay. "We've been working on cleaning up for weeks."
My aunt throws her hands in the air. "Peace, please! You're both doing a fantastic job."
Jay comes over and puts an arm around my shoulders. We beam down at our little genius, who's trying to stack peas on the dog. "I guess we are, aren't we?"
I smile up at him. He smiles back.
"But I taught her the word 'octopus.'"
I'll let him have that one.
Jenny Feldon is a writer and a full time mom. She drinks too much coffee and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, her not-quite-two-year-old daughter, and their small white dog.