Angel La Liberte is founder of Flower Power Mom—The Truth About Motherhood After 40, a fresh blog featuring news, commentary, real mom stories and advice about motherhood after 40. La Liberte gave birth to her children at 41 and 44 after conceiving naturally. A Child After 40 is the first online community forum to empower women on the journey of motherhood after 40. See also La Liberte's "Prejudice, What Prejudice? A Child After 40."
This was one of my first blogs about midlife motherhood after launching Flower Power Mom in 2009. Little did I know how it would come to symbolize a cardinal truth about motherhood after 40 - the extremely emotional culture shock of trading a business career for a domestic one.
In 2008, we bought a big old house that had an unexpected and mysterious feature - a laundry chute that snaked into a small dark room in the garage which housed an ancient washer and dryer.
The kids were thrilled to push their dirty clothes into the mouth of the chute and watch them be swallowed up into the nether regions of the house. Then, several days later, their clothing would emerge, carried on invisible hands to appear on their freshly made beds - clean and neatly folded.
It was magical.
Now, as innocent as they are at three and six years old, I am equally crusty, cynical and steeped in the misery of watching the teaming cellulite run new and rumpled rings around my thighs as I get out of the shower each morning in the weeks before my 49th birthday.
On mornings such as these, it's best to leave me to the silent toil of making hot cereal and bending, with bones audibly creaking, to wipe up the spilled milk as it dribbles langorously from the edge of the breakfast table and onto the linoleum in a kitchen that has yet to see the light of dawn.
“Mom?” asks Alex on one such morning, as his elbow slap-shots a neatly cut cube of watermelon across the table to land with a “sploosh” on the floor beneath his chair.
He takes my ensuing snort and grunt to be an invitation to inquire further.
“Who does all of the laundry?”
I wipe up the fleshy trail of watermelon with a wet paper towel, knowing there will be a sticky patch that will dry and stick to slippers with a screaming rip as the foot is lifted, to leave behind a dirt imprint, just like hair on a wax strip.
“The bloody Laundry Fairy,” I mutter almost silently under my breath through clenched teeth, involuntarily clutching my lower back as I straighten up.
“What, Mom?” Alex has stopped eating, like a wild fawn scenting either danger or thrill on a passing breeze.
“The Laundry Fairy, Alex,” say I, having regained the composure of a stressed-out flight attendant with the thin veneer of professional nicety.
Now Lizzie’s spoon comes to a sudden halt in mid-air and they both gaze at me with childish wonder.
“The Laundry Fairy, Mama?” whispers Lizzie with awe. “But where is she?”
I’m now warming to my story. “She visits the laundry room on Wednesdays and Saturdays, for the sole purpose of washing all of our clothes.”
“Wow!” says Alex with a little uncertainty, valiantly mastering an inner struggle about whether to give the old doll the benefit of the doubt. “That’s cool!”
And I thought that was the end of it. But several days later, they were eating dinner and I was in my usual post, waiting table with one hand gloved in a wet cloth ready to catch flying food like a pitcher under a pop-up, and the other ladling out home-cooked fries.
“Mom,” Alex pipes up with half a chicken nugget in each cheek, “I asked Katya about the Laundry Fairy and do you know what she said?”
Katya is our twenty-eight year old baby sitter.
“She said that you’re the Laundry Fairy.”
I ponder this for a moment and come to the conclusion that I’m just not done yet.
“Think about it Alex. How could I be the Laundry Fairy, the Dinner Fairy, the Tooth Fairy, the Bed-Making Fairy, the Vacuuming Fairy, the Ironing Fairy and the Floor Washing Fairy - just to name a few - all rolled into one? Do you honestly think I could do all of that by myself?”
Alex chews on this for a while and then says: “Yeah, Mom, you’re right. You sure need the Laundry Fairy.”
“You bet I do, Alex!” I sigh and whisper, “You bet I do...”
Find more from La Liberte and join with other moms over 40 at Flower Power Mom.