Every woman after giving birth needs a personal lackey—someone you can boss around for at least two weeks. Although neither or my sister’s is having kids any time soon, I hope that I can offer that to them should they ever be in that situation. Since I’m the oldest, I also think that might be quite satisfying for them. I can imagine myself saying something like this: “I will do pretty much whatever you want for the next 2 weeks, whenever you ask it of me, day or night…..” (pause) “After that, it’s back to me being the boss.”
Actually, I think both my sisters would agree that my middle sister, the oldest of the second set, Jackie, is the bossiest of us all. She’s got lots of very specific ideas of how things should be done in order to make them the best. Of course naturally “best” is a matter of interpretation. I imagine her experiencing a big sigh of relief at my statement—more like a “Jeezuz, finally!”
After the birth of both of my children my mom played this role for me. I remember lying in bed “ordering” my breakfast. I was very specific about everything. “I would like an omelet with ham, goat cheese, and chives.” She would graciously deliver the course then come back for the plate when I was done. Then I would say, “Now I would like a bowl of granola with yogurt and bananas.” Repeat interlude. I even had the baby monitor so I could report to the kitchen from my position in bed! “Now I would like a smoothie with the following ingredients…” I was totally serious, and I scarfed down every single one of those things to the last drop.
Later, my mom told me that at first she thought I was kidding— she had never seen me eat so much in one sitting. (Luckily she had the wherewithal to keep this to herself.) In hindsight, neither one of us had ever seen what I was like as a new mother making breast milk. Piles of food were apparently required. And required. And required.
It should be noted also that one of the essential necessities of the personal lackey is that they do not get easily offended. They need to be able to see you at your worst and likely at least occasionally be the recipient of your extremely hormonal (and totally normal) mood swings without either taking it personally or holding it against you later.
My mother was also a star in this manner.
I remember once during this period saying to my husband, “My mom is totally bugging me.”
He responded baffled, “Why? What is she doing?”
“Breathing…. Nothing. It’s not what she’s doing. I’m just irritated. And she’s here.”
I also said as much to my mother. I would follow it with a sincere apology for being such a bear.
Good natured, tolerant, and of course a mother herself, she would shrug and say, “It’s totally normal honey. Don’t worry about it.”
What a great role model. I aspire to be a lackey like that. In the virtual future I’m imagining, many years from now, when my sister— coursing with hormones and bodily issues— snaps my head off over breathing— like my mother, I won’t even mention it. I’ll just continue folding the laundry and putting away the tiny onsies in complete peace, humming a sweet tune as I go.
Thanks Mom. 🙂 And gratitude to those special lackeys everywhere who silently support a woman during this needy, pivotal and transformational time of life. We couldn’t do it without each other.