Excerpt from Amanda Lamb’s Diary in “A Day In the Life”
8:00 A.M.: I get two cups of coffee and balance them on the top of the baby jogger. The coffee shop has detailed descriptions for each blend. One says: “dark, brooding, spellbinding,” another says: “distinctly complex.” I never realized coffee, like everything else in my life, seems to be an emotional choice. I’m feeling more complex than spellbinding today.
9:15 A.M.: Getting two kids ready to go to the beach is almost so exhausting it’s not worth the trouble. But being a type-A working mother with all the guilt that goes along with this role I plan for every contingency to make the day at the beach a scene out of Disney movie. The list includes bathing suits, hats, sun block, sunglasses, diapers, changes of clothes, toys, towels, chairs, drinks, and snacks. The planning is the easy part; it’s the execution that’s hard. After watching me do this my mother says instead of “a village” it takes “a city” to raise children.
10:00 A.M.: We arrive at the edge of the beach. The Jersey Shore has big, wide beaches, so pushing the baby jogger across the sand is a bit like crossing the Sahara with a Rickshaw. People stare and say things like: “You’ve got your hands full!” Or “What a workout!” I politely smile and imagine running over their feet. Upon arrival at a good spot, the setup begins. There are two kinds of beach people here. The people who bring their own chairs and towels, and the people who stay at hotels and inns where the staff sets them up for you. We are the former, my mother longs to be the latter.
10:15 A.M.: We have the beach almost to ourselves as it is still a little cool. In an unlikely turn of events the baby has fallen asleep in the jogger, so Mallory and I have a rare moment to ourselves. I am taking pictures of her as she does cartwheels by the water. I want to remember her like this, her skin the color of toast in a bathing suit that looks more like a tutu, her blunt short haircut falling into her eyes with every imperfect tumble. She gets bored and decides we need to build a drip castle. It’s the only kind of castle I can build because it’s meant to be abstract instead of perfect. My mother never built castles with me because she didn’t like sand. So by doing it, I kill two birds with one stone, complete my working-mom-guilt-Disney-fantasy and one-up my mother.
From This Day in the Life: Diaries from Women Across America, Three Rivers Press © 2005. For more information about the book, please visit www.thisdayinthelife.com.