When she enters the buzzing cafeteria the energy changes. As she walks by, the guys who *wrongfully* think they may have a chance with her, sit up a little straighter, suck in their bellies, do that thing where they lick their palms and smooth their hair down; the girls either wish they could *be* her (even if for just one day) or *hate* her because they know they’ll never be her (not even for one day). As for her, the Main Character at No Name High School, she sits down at the popular kids’ table completely oblivious to the fact that no matter where she goes, the story is all about her.
This, my friends, is the quintessential Main Character storyline we know all too well. It’s Kelly Kapowski and Zack Morris, it’s Cher from Clueless, it’s Topanga in Boy Meets World – it’s the person who influences the storyline most or who is influenced most by the storyline. We all know a Main Character in real life too, the most influential person at work (not necessarily the loudest or most talkative or the CEO) but the one that when they enter the room somehow they change it, impact it, their opinion or thoughts matter the most. Why did we care so much about Pam the receptionist on The Office anyways? – that’s the Main Character effect.
During the week I have a full time nanny who takes care of my children. I work from home so this arrangement at this point means that I tuck away into my gym/office for workouts and Zoom calls, or go to a coffee shop or wine bar with earbuds in to work. On the weekends however, I typically stay home with my kids. Over the last few months I’ve realized, particularly on evening and weekends when it’s just me, Jovan and my kids, how much motherhood is like being the Main Character but in a completely different kind of movie.
Mom as the Main Character
One of the biggest mysteries of my motherhood experience is why my kids act COMPLETELY different the minute I walk in the door. I can be in my office for hours secretly working and hear them playing happily, stable, not going ape shit… the minute I crack my office door to try to sneak-grab a La Croix all hell breaks loose.
While the Main Character in the latest George Clooney rom-com might be greeted with compliments about her beauty, a guy holding a sign professing his love, etc, Main Character Moms are greeted with screeches of MOMMMYYYYYYY!!!! MOMMMMMYYYY LOOOK AT THIS HOPGRASSER MOMMMYYY MY OWIEEE BANDAID MOMMYYYYY PICKMEUPPPPP!!! MOMMYYYY WATCH GODZILLA MOMMMMYYYY MOMMMMYYYY UP UP UP ASHDGDBWJTBOOGERHEBEHEHDKDMOMM
Another inexplicable Motherhood Main Character experience is the fact that no matter what when I open my eyes in the morning, my children do too. It’s like I am Truman in the Truman show where my kids are hired dwarf actors and the script calls for their mother to never ever be able to drink a cup of coffee without them standing by, dipping their fingers or toys into it, and carrying on like psychotic coffee fiends if I don’t give them a hit of their drug of choice. While Main Characters in movies have alarm clocks that start their day, Mom Main Characters *are* the alarm clock. Worth noting I have witnessed no less than 50 times where Jovan will wake up earlier than me for insomnia reasons… doesn’t move the kids’ eyelids. This supports that there usually is only one true main character in a given story #itsscience
In the movies the Main Character may have a montage where they are doing something relaxing or self care related – a bubble bath, reading a book, eating a meal, taking a shit – all these indulgences look a lot different as a Mom Main Character. If at any point I place a door between myself and my kids (showering, bathing, phone call, pooping) it’s pounded on the same way the cops do when they believe you have more weed than your medical Marijuana card permits in your house. Relaxation? No can do. A 2 hour movie become 4 hours long or no hours long because the minute you begin to let your attention drift from them and into relaxation mode, they’ll suddenly be severely dehydrated in need of several different drinks, in need of a snack, want you to build them a caterpillar out of Play Doh, be incensed the sun went down and want you to step outside to bid it to return, and other similar things.
Thanks to Googling things like “why do my kids act insane with me and no one else” I realized that my experience wasn’t unique. That motherhood is this double edged sword – finally being the main character, the center of the storyline… but for tiny people (read: maniacs) who view you as their safest space, their best friend, their comfort, and primary shaper of their world – their world being new, overwhelming and scary at times.
This leading role is far less romantic and glamorous as the movies, absolutely. But I guess I could do worse than being the Main Character to my babies. Moms who have grown kids always say “you’ll miss these moments” and as hard as it is to see that when their tiny fingers are reaching under the door while I sit on a toilet, I have no doubt I will.
The one written hiding from my kids in my closet