The Goddess Speaks

By Joleen Oshiro

Tuesday, October 5, 1999

Grabbing motherhood
by the teeth

I think often and enviously of my 20's. Adulthood was fresh, my wallet was fat and my body was firm. The end of the work day meant dinners with friends, maybe a movie. Weekends were jammed with dancing, karaoke bars and sunrise drives home that blurred one day into the next. Indulgence was at its peak.

But that was then. Once you have a child, forget about dining out and dancing 'til dawn. Nowadays, it's a challenge to remember to brush my teeth.

When my baby was born, I saw stars -- like in the cartoons -- spinning above my head. The sleep deprivation everyone talks about is a minor sacrifice. When a person accustomed to self-indulgence is suddenly faced with juggling a hungry baby, wet diaper, finding a chance to use the bathroom, hungry baby, hungry self, wet diaper, taking the dog out, hungry baby, wet diaper -- you get the idea -- hygiene takes a back seat to all those bladders.

Now that the baby is older, some sanity has returned to my life, but there still are pitfalls that launch panic attacks.

Bullet Sleep Deprivation: In the time that it took the night feedings and wet diapers to decrease, I have concluded that my daughter is part owl. She's literally singing and dancing when the clock strikes 12; I guess she inherited my late-night habits.

Several attempts to de-owlize her schedule have failed. That means when the early morning hours roll around, I don't always manage to roll out of bed. When I eventually awake to a hungry baby with a wet diaper and a whining dog, my teeth are lucky to get attention before bedtime.

Bullet Get us to the park on time: How do career moms make it to work everyday?

They must keep a toothbrush in their desk drawer, or maybe they're raising early birds. If I need to wake my owl so we can be somewhere on time, she gets cranky. Which means no breakfast, and that means I must remember to pack a meal -- along with enough diapers, snacks, changes of clothes, toys and money. And then install the car seat, change her clothes, let the dog out and change my clothes.

When I dare to peek at the clock, I can't believe I'm still on time.

Bullet The early bird gets the cavity: Another late night ... but I still manage to wake before sunrise.

This is the first day of the rest of my life. I jump out of bed and march to the kitchen. I wash, peel, chop, season, stir and simmer. Laundry is sorted, washed, dried and even folded. The vacuum hums, and before you can say "happy homemaker," the floors are free of dust and dog hair and the high-chair fallout is gone.

It feels great to be in control, for once. Feeling smug, I pop breakfast into the microwave, and a minute later I'm easing into the comfy couch. Just as the spoon's about to hit my mouth I realize what I've forgotten. En route to my toothbrush, I hear "Mommy!" The smugness evaporates. Another field day for plaque.

Thankfully, a new plan of action has kept my teeth squeaky clean for a couple of months now. It entails making a single-minded reach for the toothbrush the moment my eyes open. No full bladder, full diaper or full-blown homemaking urge can sway me. In fact, brushing has become such a big event that enjoying my minty morning mouth feels like self-indulgence.

But there's no resting. Next: figuring out how to make time for brushing my hair.

Joleen Oshiro is a former Star-Bulletin copy editor.

The Goddess Speaks runs every Tuesday
and is a column by and about women, our strengths, weaknesses,
quirks and quandaries. If you have something to say, write it and
send it to: The Goddess Speaks, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, P.O.
Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802, or send e-mail

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