Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Betty Draper Moment

Yesterday I threw a cookie-making/cookie-decorating party for six kids aged five and under (plus a baby) and their moms and a dad.

It was equal parts chaos and joy, but worth all the mess to hear the house filled with little-kid squeals and giggles (well, except when the squeals turned more scream-ish and there were too many monkeys jumping on the beds). It was a sticky, sugary, dough-y mess, and everyone got their hands dirty. By five-and-under standards, a rockin' good time. Plus of course all my kids' toys are like new to their playmates, and everyone knows, as one mom remarked, that other kids' toys are the best toys.

The house was a something of a mess of course when it was all over, but parents pitched in a bit before leaving, and for once I really didn't mind picking up after everyone -- perhaps because, as a working mom, I don't do this sort of thing every day. Mrs. Don Draper of MAD MEN I am soooo not.

But that didn't mean my husband, on his return home from work, didn't accuse me of having my "Betty Draper moment." He meant it in a positive, though teasing, way, as in, "see, you can act like a suburban stay-at home mom from the early 1960s." He knows, of course, that I watch MAD MEN and cringe at pretty much every Betty Draper moment. Spouse of the series' protagonist, ad exec Don Draper, Betty is a chain-smoking, neurotic, chronically un-inquisitive housewife/mom with no intellectual or inner life, who lets her kids play with her dry cleaning bags and sit in the front seat of the car without a seatbelt, and never seems to notice when her husband heads back to the office at odd hours (well, at least in Season 1; I'm still catching up on DVD).

I prefer to think of my cookie party as more of my Laura Petrie moment, because a)Laura, aside from the occasional "Oh, ROB!" moment, was pretty happy and b)Mary Tyler Moore, who played Laura to Dick Van Dyke's Rob, went on to play Mary Richards, single career woman who was "gonna make it after all." I can stand to be compared to Laura precisely because, a few years later, when I was of TV-watching age, she become Mary, and I'm kind of Mary now, except after the show, when she presumably went on to become married-career-woman-with-children. At least she did in MY fantasy of her future.

Doing the mom-hosting-a-kid-party thing was very fun, actually, and I really do believe it's because I do it so rarely. I savored the moment. It was far from perfect, and that's the way I prefer it: this was emphatically not my Martha Stewart moment. Hence the mess -- and the messy cookies the kids decorated, with way too much colored sugar crystals to be magazine-shoot worthy. Those cookies sure were yummy.

Monday it'll be back to business as usual around here, and my inner Laura Petrie will have to go back into hibernation, at least until the next school vacation when I can manage to get some simultaneous time off from work. No doubt by Monday I'll have been driven mildly nuts by having my kids home so much, and be thrilled they're back at school and I can concentrate on the more grown-up matters than cookie-making. Confession: the stay-at-home mom life has never been an option for me anyway, and I'm kind of glad. I don't think I'm well-wired for it though I know moms who are. But for a brief shining moment, it's been awfully nice to NOT have to juggle work, school and kids this week, and just be home with the family.

And now ... leftover cookies. Happy New Year To All, and to all A Sweet Year.


William V. Madison said...

So far from the U.S., I'm very far behind on Mad Men (I've seen only the first episode), but I do know my canonical Mary Tyler Moore Show. And it's abundantly clear that, after Mary left WJM, she met and married the love of her life. She was already in her late 30s; she and her husband had to struggle to have kids. But at last Mary Richards had her Late-Blooming Mom Moment.

And it's also clear that Things 1 & 2 can turn the world on with their smiles.

latebloomingmom said...

Bill --
I have no words but I'm trying anyway.
So glad to have you in our lives.

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