Friday, July 9, 2010

One Favorite Thing

By Mimi Hecht 

One day in school when I was fourteen years old, I chose an alternative to doodling in class, opting instead for the more sophisticated task of transcribing a list of my favorite things. Ten years later, I unearthed the two page list, a revealing time capsule of my adolescent mind. Dated Monday May 24th, 2000, the list included the following highlights:

Finishing a good book
Taking a nap in the middle of the day
Getting mail
A perfect hair day
Knowing all the answers
Getting paid after babysitting
Having clothes in my closet with tags on them
Drinking cold water after exercising
Being made a fancy breakfast
A hot shower on a cold morning
Having just turned twenty four, and now married with a baby, I can't help but let the discovery speak volumes about my life today. As I approach my son's first birthday, the revelation is all too clear. 

My how things change (and not just because a strong portion of the list had to do with sleeping)!Walking barefoot is now unsanitary, writing is no longer a hobby but a career and snail mail means bills, not a good read from a pen pal. 

I thought it would be interesting to compose a more updated version of “Mimi’s Favorite Things.” I started churning out some notes: Hearing the baby laugh, going out with my husband, getting the high-chair all clean, rocking the baby to sleep – it was a list of everything and anything having to do with my family, treasuring the moments with my husband and child. Oh no, I thought. My luxuriously naïve child mentality has transformed into an overprotective one-track mind void of any of life’s little treasures! 

Could motherhood have taken the place of an abundance of favorites? Has being a mother become my one favorite thing

Ya, just go on and say it. It’s pathetic. Today’s list of my favorite things is not really a list at all but rather one overarching priority. Anything that falls under that umbrella of motherhood – from a walk in the park to a doctor’s visit – is now my most preferred and enjoyable activity. 

One would think my life as a wife and mother has become more complicated and downtrodden with responsibilities - with no room for “favorite things.” But the truth is, there is nothing to mourn. Life has actually become simpler and a whole lot more rewarding by virtue of the fact that I know my guiding priority. No matter what our entire society will say about that, it’s a fact. And I will say it proudly. My natural and intuitive joy is my family, and just knowing that - and recognizing it with confidence, not embarrassment – has made life more pleasurable, worth more than a million favorites. Anything enjoyable beyond experiences with my family– like finishing a book or a perfect hair day - well, that’s just the icing on the beautiful, multi-flavored and oh-so-layered extra-fattening cake. And you know what? I get a deeper satisfaction from my happy family moments than I ever did from any “favorite things” when I was fourteen. As it turns out, it’s better to have one real big and important favorite thing than a two page list of small life-treats. 

If you’re a mother, you know it’s true. You can’t have any “favorite things” if your family isn’t happy, healthy and – at the minimum – functioning. No matter what our enjoyable little fixes, once we make the foray into motherhood, it all comes down to our one favorite thing. And the sooner we accept this often unpopular attitude, the more we’ll enjoy the small things in life.
That being said, there are some things I could afford to reinstitute from my list – like sweating after a good exercise, getting paid for all my babysitting (I’d be a millionaire) and, of course, knowing all the answers.


2 LadyMama voices:

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Dear Mimi,

THANK YOU, THANK YOU for revealing this wondrous secret of life!

In a world where we are oh, so encouraged to lower our heads with chagrin when "all" we are is a wife and mother the beautiful truth is something else: this profession is what the Peace Corps used to advertise itself as, "The toughest job you'll ever love."

I'm not saying we wives and mothers shouldn't have other pursuits. After all, if you didn't put time and energy into writing your blog and your columns, I wouldn't be writing this note to you right now!

But the MAIN thing -- as evidenced by your more current list of your joys in life -- is something else: being a wife and mother.

It's finally time for a "post-feminist" society, where the best of the gains of the women's movement are kept, and the chaff is finally discarded. Otherwise, homemaking and childrearing could be doomed to be lost arts. And with that loss, goes the heart of our society.

Stand tall, and no more apologies!

sara hess said... [Reply to comment]

LOVE! So well written and oh so true!