Shit I do for the eyes of other parents

If the toenails, fingernails, and bangs get cut in the same day there is only one explanation: Someone important is coming over.

I like things to look good for you. I like them to look good for myself too; but without the flood of anxious energy that comes when guests are expected, we rarely get beyond this:

Hey, at least the socks match.

Sock-matching usually falls into a category I call “shit I do for the eyes of other parents.” This phenomenon ensures that I’m not only caring for my child, but that I look like I’m caring for my child. And we all know that’s what being a Good Mom is all about.

Outside of parenting, it is normal to limit or avoid pointless work. When it comes to kids though, we repeatedly put hats and mittens back on, pick up toys from the floor, and scrub hardened goo off the high chair even though the child is bound to eat again. Also, there are bibs.

“What’s the point of bibs?” I ask my friend S. “I just take off baby A’s clothing when she eats. Skin is washable.”

“Kids should take off anything clean when they enter the house,” says S, pretending to hang an item on a hook. “Keep the good clothes for going out.”

S has kids older than mine, and she says there is lots of shit she does for the eyes of other parents. Her son asks why he can’t keep wearing the same shirt to school day after day, even though it doesn’t stink or anything.

Hard to explain to yourself, much less your kid, how a parent’s love can be measured by outfit changes.

“I don’t know,” she tells him. “You just can’t.”

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