July 22, 2014
Steamboat Springs — I was at the Old Town Hot Springs a few days ago, helping Simone out of her bathing suit when another woman in the locker room started talking on her cell phone. Which seems totally normal and innocuous, except that because everyone's phones are equipped with cameras these days, cell phone use is verboten throughout the OTHS, especially the rooms where people get naked. So when the woman finished her call, I said, "You may not know this, but there's a rule against cell phone use in the locker rooms. It makes me uncomfortable."
She was indignant. "That was my son, letting me know where I should pick him up," the woman said hotly. I understand how she felt. I myself was pretty irritated a few months ago when an OTHS lifeguard told me I couldn't use my iPhone to take pictures of Simone's first swim strokes. Still, that's the deal.
Then another woman leapt to the phoner's defense. "I'm a member here, and I've never heard of that rule," she told me (I'm a member too). Then she declared, "When it comes to our kids, we moms take that call, any time, any place." I could practically see her Supermom cape fluttering behind her. Am I not a mom? I thought, sad at first to be shunned from the MOM sorority. Then I realized that if a supersized sense of entitlement is what it takes to be a mom, I don't want to join the club.
Of course all parents want to meet their kids' needs. Had that woman's son been calling with an emergency, I would've agreed that helping a child through injury, danger, or fear trumps silly-seeming cell phone rules. Mere conveniences, however, can tolerate a 30-second delay while we find a phone-approved zone. Yet the Supermoms seemed to believe they should jump as soon as their kids snap their fingers (and the rest of us should, too). To me, that's not heroic. It's enabling.
I love my daughter, but there are times when other people's needs come before hers. Unless she's dive-bombed some pavement, it's not OK for her to interrupt my conversation with others. And when she's old enough to use a phone, she may have to wait a minute before I can take her call. That might not be such a bad thing.
Already, I'm finding that a lot of amazing things can happen in that minute before mamma swoops in to save the day. Simone has made breakthroughs on the jungle gym, invented her own games, and triumphed at buttoning her cardigan—all because I didn't rush to her first call for help.
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It's funny to think that such an inconsequential phone call could have such a polarizing effect on the three of us, forcing us to draw our silly line in the sand (or in this case, the locker room's tile floor). But I'm kind of glad we had that showdown. It nudged me into a better understanding of what it means to be a mom. It's not a synonym for servant.