The Fantasy of Motherhood vs. The Reality

Most people at some point in their lives, are introduced to the concept of “fantasy” vs. “reality.” Even my two boys have some idea that their ideas of life do not necessarily correspond to what’s going to happen day to day. My husband, Wonder Dad, said this insightful thing to me today, “Once you accept the fact that life can never be 100% filled with joy and happiness, things get a lot smoother.” I guess some of us (me) learn these things later than others.

I discovered early that the world was nothing like what I wanted it to be, and quickly shoved that into the depths of my unconscious. A somewhat desperate persona developed layered on top of that fear, that was designed to keep me safe from you ever really knowing me, but ended up holding me prisoner for decades. I participated in anything that propagated illusion over truth, exemplified by the fact that at the age of sixteen I was hired to impersonate a bride on TV, and in print commercials. Not only was I in no way virginal, but most of the women buying the magazines were going to look nothing like that on their wedding day. I myself was considerably more smooth-skinned in those pictures, than when I actually got married in real life ten years later. I didn’t even end up looking like that bride. And I was her…

Nevertheless I allowed myself to fantasize about motherhood. I was sure that despite my past as a half-unstable maniac, I would miraculously become the picture of calm beneficence, firm but always fair, a half smile lilting peacefully at the corners of my mouth. My hair flowed over one eye in a smooth wave, framing my button nose and eyes of clear blue… (I guess I thought I’d turn into Nicole Kidman.) As baby Abigail suckled peacefully at my engorged breast, her big sister Samantha, wearing a pink juicy velour sweat suit and patent leather Mary Janes would play quietly with an educational wooden toy. A bird would alight on a tree outside and twitter its contentment as “Ave Maria” played in the background.

At five fifteen in the afternoon, my husband would return, briefcase in hand and scoop me in his arms, saying “Sorry I’m late, honey I hate being away from you.” I would have just finished cooking a nutritious, low calorie meal of extraordinary deliciousness and my apron would catch on his tie pin. Abigail would be in her rocker, humming Beethoven’s Fifth, and Samantha would show daddy the tiara she’d made out of left over paper clips and non-carcinogenic resin. Daddy would kiss each child in turn, and play with them before we all sat down to dinner.

In between mouthfuls of kosher, organic osso bucco, my husband would gaze longingly into my eyes. After we put the children to bed (at 6:35) he would carry me up the stairs and make slow yet insistent love to me, whispering in my ear that I was the best mother in the world and had become unimaginably more beautiful since the pregnancies had made my body bloom forth new life…

And so we come to today. My house looks like a tornado has been through it as we prepare to move (although not as bad as Hurricane Isaac, I remind myself to pray for New Orleans) and two little boys, while safely at school, have left a trail of evidence in their wakes. The simple act of putting on shoes required fourteen (hundred) reminders, in escalating pitch, culminating in a tone best described as “banshee.” And yet they got to school on time, with their shoes on, homework done, teeth brushed and smiles on their faces. They cannot drive, shop, drink, smoke, snort, or have sex to avoid reality. So they move gamely through their days, (as we did as children) never knowing how courageous they really are.


  1. Remember this, from your “Separation” post?

    “The last fromage of my denial melted, and I knew I had to accept this man and this marriage, stripped of romantic fantasy, in all its mundane glory, ugly shirt and all.”

    Now this….

    “After we put the children to bed (at 6:35) he would carry me up the stairs and make slow yet insistent love to me, whispering in my ear that I was the best mother in the world and had become unimaginably more beautiful since the pregnancies had made my body bloom forth new life…”

    Haha, yes life sucks for you. Your husband is such a lousy liar 🙂

    First visit here — I was linked from this blog, I’m curious what you might think of what he has to say:

    • Hey Soul thanks for letting me know about this whole fascinating conversation that has been started by Blackdragon (whoever that is) about my blog (s). I have written a full response on his blog, but to you I must admit I pulled that fantasy piece from a one woman show I did a few years ago (called Mamafied) and it came about more from postpartum anger than a real desire to have a Betty Crocker lifestyle. I’ve never valued suburbia and hubby and I have values and tastes that are probably quite different from the “masses” (whatever that means.) And for some reason, hubby still tells me I’m gorgeous every day because he really believes it (I tell him not to get his glasses fixed.) He is one of the few guys who seems to still be hot for his wife, which to hear him tell it, is kind of rare. So that part of the fantasy kind of came true:) I thought your comment on Snapdragon’s site was really astute as well. Hope you keep reading…

      • Hey Susanna,

        I appreciate the appreciation, but I think you’re missing my point about your husband. It’s possible for him to express his esteem for you, and still be completely honest. For example:

        You: “Do you think I’m still beautiful?”
        Him: “Yes, when the lights are off, you look exactly the same as the day I met you.”

        You: “I’m worried that I’m being an awful mother.”
        Him: “Yes, but when they’re in juvenile hall, we can rent out the spare bedroom.”

        Also, you should be able to talk about all your richest fantasies with your lover. Like this:

        You: “Charlie Hunnan is so hot… ”
        Him: “Yes, his thighs and pecs look absolutely delicious. Let’s invite him for dinner. Shall we roast him or bake him?”

        Or, if he’s more of a kinky bent: “He would be absolutely great as a slave, or a pet with a dog collar.”

        Also, rather than waiting to have you take him to a shrink, your husband should always talk over his concerns with his mistress. That way, he’ll be fully in touch with his feelings when he wants to discuss what you’re doing that’s pissing him off.

        The problem with your husband is, he’s got you on a princess pedestal and he’s worshiping at your feet. But you don’t need a groveling worm, you need a man at your side.

        “Snapdragon.” Haha, LOL. You’re funny. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next!


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