“Why I do that?”

There was this PBS documentary mini-series titled: Mormons.  I had to watch it. I was two glasses of wine in and walking the line between buzzed and pretentious buzzed. “Oh yes, a PBS documentary. What else would I watch?” *adjusts imaginary glasses*

Because if you watch a PBS documentary while buzzed, and no one is there to admire your choice in programming, does the tree falling in the middle of an empty forest make a sound?

I argue that of course it still counts when you incorrectly recount the facts of said documentary later that year at holiday parties. It still counts.

And I wondered if I was watching the documentary because I wanted to or because someone once told me that well-rounded people watch documentaries. Honestly, I couldn’t be sure exactly why I was watching it. I couldn’t differentiate between my likes and desires and the desires of “the panel”. I always imagine there is an invisible panel…monitoring the decisions we make. Holding up numbers; grading our performance.

Grilled cheese and carrot sticks for dinner? 4.5

Cereal? 0.9

PBS documentary watching? 7.5

I’ve never medaled in anything.

But this whole idea of why we do things…this has been consistently gnawing at me for a few months. Do I do anything for the pure joy of it? Do I stop and say, “Fuck it! I don’t care that laundry is smothering my will to live. I don’t care that my toilet bowl looks like a Before shot. I don’t fucking care!”

But, I do care. I just don’t know why I care.

So, I’ve been breaking it down. I’ve been thinking, hard, about why and to what benefit and, how this relates to womanhood and personhood and motherhood.

I’ve been mostly considering how it relates to my reign as dictator over these four, small people. It’s not a democracy. They had no choice. It’s just me. I’m the hand they were dealt.

And because my desire to become a mother was so primal, it felt less like a choice than a reckoning. I HAD to be a mother. It wasn’t a choice. It was a calling. My bones told me I had to be one and so, I obliged. You don’t ever say no to your bones.

But, the rest of motherhood doesn’t feel like that. It taunts you because there are no right answers. You don’t feel it “in your bones” when it’s time to talk to them about sex or drugs or toxic friendships. Your bones don’t jump in to help when they tell you they hate you or ask you to stop dancing because the mere idea of you moving makes them want to dig their eyes out with a spoon. Your bones forsake you and then, it’s just YOU and THEM and nobody has the answers (no matter how many organic crackers you bought when they were toddlers).

And they are always asking you “WHY?” as well. Like we have any idea at all.

When my eldest was about 16 months old, she ate her own poop. I walked in and she was in a shit covered room, with a shit filled diaper turned upside down on a shit stained floor. She was in hysterics screaming, “I eat it! WHY I DO THAT?”

My bones didn’t help out then either.

That’s just it, we don’t know “why we do that”.

And we are always looking for answers. Begging for answers. TELL ME THE PARENTING ANSWERS. Fuck it. There are none.

There’s just your toddler eating poop and you wondering if you can bleach your baby and then figuring it out as you go.

There is no why. There are no answers.

Fuck it. You can do laundry tomorrow.

Your bones will help you push the “dry-clean only” comforter into the washing machine.





  1. Ha! “I’ve never medaled in anything”
    You bought them organic crackers. I’d give you a medal for that!
    They won’t let you dance but you can tell the story about your eldest eating poop.
    Poop is organic. That’s another medal right there.
    Give yourself a bit more credit and start building a trophy shelf out of the laundry. You’re good.

  2. Why mommy why……sometimes because I said so it the only reasonable answer sometimes. Even if you give them an answer, they still ask another question. And another. And another.

  3. Fuck the panel! NOBODY knows what they’re doing, especially those people who point their fingers and pretend to tell other people what to do. I think that when thay find out they’re as clueless as we are, thay’ll have a really bad time. You may not have all the answers, but you have enough to keep your children alive. Besides, life would be dead boring if you didn’t have problems to work on. This is what I say to myself when I’m locked up in the toilet crying after a bad parenting day.

  4. Love Love LOOOOOOOOVVVVE This!!! (said as Oprah would when she does that yellingsingsong thing with her voice) I just shared and shared again! Right on Mommy! Both my boys, when they were little, did some amazing poop art on their cribs and walls after “nap-time.” It didn’t get better the second time it happened. I still had the same panicked “OMFG, my son ate his own poop, painted the wall with the rest and isn’t human shit toxic?” reaction. It goes from poop art to puberty, it’s an ugly, dirty job! Love to YOU!!!!

  5. Need the “love” button for this one!
    You medaled today, when you made us all laugh! And I’m sure there are many other times as well.
    I recently started a “gratitude journal” where I note things my kid does that I like or appreciate, or that make me laugh, or make me proud, or anything positive whatsoever, and I thank MYSELF, for whatever contribution that I made to that kid, his personality, etc. I do this because I am my own panel, rating myself far too low, far too often, and shit, sometimes I DO do it right, god dammit!
    And it’s the STRESS of this constant self criticism, and desire to get it “right” that sometimes smothers my will to live! Yes, I too am always looking for answers. Begging for answers. TELL ME THE FUCKING PARENTING ANSWERS, already!
    And lately it’s not the why – because my 7-year-old, he KNOWS why already, he HAS the answers. ALL of them. And he WILL NOT QUIT until I he persuades me of the validity of his logic; or until I lose my fucking mind – whichever comes first.
    Fuck it. We’re all doing a “good enough” job, even a damn fine job.

  6. Denise Stephenson says:

    Mine decided her shit wails be better served as paint. She painted her play kitchen her carpet her walls. Oh yes and her face. All during an afternoon nap (mine of course ;)) now she is twenty and I have drawn from the strength of that day 18 years ago many times through the years. Although nothing has given me more joy than recanting that memories as I would drive her and a boy to the movie place in her early teens. Awe yes I just wanted him to know exactly where her lips have been! Thank you for sharing your BPMs you have certainly helped me to laugh at the hysteria that comes along with Motherhood. It’s nice to know I am not alone and I can giggle at some of the horrors that have I have endured.

  7. Bethany, the thing is, I read you and I just feel so much more normal and human. There’s so much I don’t really understand about this life, so it’s that you get this, but also that you say things like “Because if you watch a PBS documentary while buzzed, and no one is there to admire your choice in programming, does the tree falling in the middle of an empty forest make a sound?”–and THIS makes complete sense to me. xo

  8. Lady, you’re awesome. i love it when someone makes me laugh out loud when I’m by myself!!!

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