“Litany of a Middle-Aged Mom,” by Tina Mortimer

Nov 1st, 2017 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

So I know it’s been a while. I don’t really have an excuse. But I’m back. Hey. Maybe it was turning 40 that did it. Or that cold that knocked me out for two weeks. (The same one the kids got that slowed them down for about two minutes.) I used to be able to bounce back from that shit overnight. But I’ve come to the painful realization that I’m not young anymore. So like any good, albeit lapsed, Catholic facing her inevitable mortality (God, I’m such a cliché!), I’ve started going to church again. You already know that, though, don’t you?

Church is pretty sweet, by the way. It’s a lot more fun than I remember. The one I go to now is Lutheran. You know the place downtown near the Trader Joe’s and Luxurious Nail? (Why isn’t it Luxurious Nails? And what’s wrong with me that that bothers me so much?) Anyway, this church is awesome. Not only does it have its own church-band and comfy pews; there’s a coffee bar and daycare. A coffee bar and daycare! It’s like a mini vacation every Sunday morning. So I’m going to church again.

I want to start praying again, too. The problem is this Monkey Brain you gave me. (Not that I’m complaining. I like having a brain.) I either go completely blank or get distracted and forget what I wanted to ask for, I mean, pray about. Anyway, I really want to do this Old School. So here I am, kneeling at the foot of my bed, hands clasped, eyes squinting reverently up at the ceiling. Is this working? Do I look like an idiot?

First, Lord: I ask for your forgiveness for all my sins, known and unknown. For I typically know not what I do. Please also—damn it — where did that yellow spot come from? I’m sorry, God. Please prevent me from dwelling on the stain on the comforter that wasn’t there yesterday even though it smells like mustard and probably won’t come out if I get it dry-cleaned. Give me strength, Lord, to forgive my husband for eating an egg salad sandwich in bed again after I’ve told him a thousand times to not eat in bed. Forgive him for his gluttony. And forgive me for my spitefulness when I order a new Pottery Barn comforter online tomorrow.  I know it’s overpriced. Lord, let the new comforter serve as a constant reminder to my boorish husband not to disobey me. I’m sorry, forgive me for calling him boorish, he’s really not that bad.  He’s actually more of a—what’s a gentle animal, God? I can’t think of one. A lamb? A platypus?

O Lord, please forgive my husband and children for their sins, for they too know not what they do—especially Owen when it comes to playing the recorder. He’s just not gifted musically. Please help him to realize this on his own before some mean person tells him. Also, give me strength to turn the other cheek when he flips his water bottle on the kitchen table over and over and over again.  He’s a simple boy, God.

Lord, thank you so much for my family! I know you were probably pissed-off about that abortion, but I really do appreciate you helping me through my twenties and into this lovely, middle-class, mid-western existence. I know things were a little touch-and-go there for a while. If you hadn’t brought Russ and I together, I’d probably still be waiting tables and doing community theater. So please help me to always remember how blessed I am (but never feel so blessed that I need to use the hashtag “blessed” or close an email with “have a blessed day” because that’s obnoxious). Also, please help me remember to pay the Visa bill.

If possible, Lord, I ask that you remove the evil from Gwendolyn. She is clearly possessed by some sort of demon or suffering from a mutant gene inherited from her father. Why else would she have bitten that baby at daycare? Why, God?

God, grant me patience for when she removes her diaper in the middle of the night and flings her shit across the room or insists on buckling herself into the car seat when I’m running late or refuses to eat anything but peanut butter and cheesy puffs. Help me to remember that I will not have a nervous breakdown because Thou—and chardonnay—art always with me.

Grant me the wisdom to … please don’t let that be Owen getting out of bed for another glass of water.  Don’t let it be him, Lord. I was just in there. It better not be him for the hundredth time. Never mind. It’s the cat. God bless Sebastian.

O Lord, I really want to be close to you again. Not too close. I don’t want to be up there with you or anything—not yet. Spiritually close, not physically close. OK? I know. Where have I been the last four decades, right? I get it. Maybe I’m in the throes of a mid-life crisis, but the thing is, having a three year old is really scary—because I’m 41, and she can outrun me. So please keep me in good health, Lord, at least until Gwen is out of college. Someone needs to protect her from hipsters with hair buns who say “bra” when they mean “bro.” Please steer her away from those types, but not so far that she ends up in the arms of a Republican. I don’t think I could handle that, Lord.  And don’t forget about Owen. He’s also going to need your help, especially if he keeps trying to play Clash of Clans on his phone while riding his bike.

Finally, God, don’t let either of them grow up too fast, because childhood is fleeting, adulthood is tedious, and garage drinking can wait.



Tina Mortimer is an essayist and short story writer. Her work has been featured in a variety of publications and on the websites The Purple Fig, Hippocampus, and Cleaver. She lives with her husband and two children in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. (Go Bears!) In her spare time, Tina enjoys drinking wine, listening to old-school rap and complaining. Follow her blog at TinaTwoTimes.com.

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