I had a great new idea bubbling over in my head and I couldn’t wait to share it with my husband.
“My blog — the one I keep saying I’m going to start — I have a name for it!” He put on his “Honey, that’s great!” face and asked me to share. I paused for effect, then said, “‘Amateur Mom’! Because each child is different, and I’ll always be learning how to parent. What do you think?”
His smile began to slide. His eyebrows lifted ever so slightly. Not the reaction I’d anticipated.
“Um,” he hesitated. His face was pinking up. He coughed. “You may want to Google that first.”
I shook my head. “No, I already checked. The domain isn’t taken. I should probably get it right now in case someone else has the same idea.” I started looking for my purse.
He cleared his throat. He spoke carefully. “It’s not that, it’s just…” In our relationship, I have to say that my husband rules at pausing for dramatic effect. Sometimes (OK, usually) it makes me crazy, when I just want him to get to the point and he’s searching for a unique way to phrase something. I’ve been a journalist a lot longer than I’ve been a wife, so for better or for worse, I’m trained not to bury the lead.
“What.” My enthusiasm was gone. Annoyance took its place.
He breathed in deep. “OK. Uh, it’s just that, that’s a porn term.”
Inside of a split second, I understood why it was so hard for him to get those words out. He didn’t flinch, didn’t blink. He was braced for me to ask “How do you know that?”
I was calm, but dejected. And I did not ask. Because I knew he knew what he was talking about. He’s been on the Internet since Mark Zuckerberg was in diapers, cutting his digital teeth on BBSs and 14.4 modems. It was the early ’90s. There was no Google. The Spin Doctors were hot. The man knows there’s a dark side to the Internet, and as much as I hated to, I had to trust his advice on this.
Couldn’t shoot the messenger. So I got mad at the whole stupid porn culture that created this ridiculous, icky subgenre in the first place. I realized that just about any term I wanted to choose could have been co-opted at some point into the double-entendre title of an adult film or website.
While it would, in fact, be a terrible idea to register my original idea as my brand — lest I attract a herd of mouthbreathing MILF-seekers into posts about my precious children — I can still reclaim the term.
I am an Amateur Mom — PG version. (For occasional swearing, bathroom humor, and ranting.) I don’t have a degree in parenting. There’s no pay in it. If parenting were an Olympic event, I would totally qualify as long as coffee isn’t considered a performance-enhancing drug (more like my performance depends on it). I spent four years in college learning my profession. This is way harder.
I am an Amateur Mom because I am powerless against the roiling sea of math anxiety that swallows up my sweet, bighearted son at least twice a week when he sits down to do homework.
I am an Amateur Mom because I think my 6-year-old daughter would get more out of a Spanish class than gymnastics, and she will hate me for it, but I also can’t tolerate more than two evening activities a week and we’re already booked one night.
I am an Amateur Mom because I totally dropped the sleep training ball on the youngest child. She’s 3 and routinely stays awake past 10 p.m. Absolute fail.
I think we, like doctors and lawyers, should say we are in the practice of parenting. Because it never gets perfect. I will be learning new things even when I am an old mom (wait… I am kind of old already). I have met a few Professional Parents in my time — you know, the ones who make it look easy. Natural. Like they were taking notes as children from their own perfect moms.
I am rather unnatural at this on a daily basis, awkward and flailing and, yes, amateur. The one thing I have going for me is that my clients don’t know it. At least not until middle school.