The People’s Mama

September 26th, 2017

twin life

The other night when I was flipping through HBONOW looking for some escapist programming to peace out on another exhausting day with toddlers, I came across the new documentary “Diana, Our Mother,” about Princess Di. It revolves around stilted interviews with her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, gushing about what a perfect mother and woman she was.

I got sucked in. The doc portrays Princess Di as the ideal mom. She’s hands-on, loving, fun, funny, sweet, kind, affectionate, and, of course, so pretty. Countless clips of her hugging her sons and laughing gleefully with them abound—and never does a perfectly feathered hair on the Princess’s head get messed up. The princes describe her as someone who always made them feel enveloped in love.

I’ve never been much of an anglophile and in fact spent my early twenties worried that my new short, feathered haircut made me look “too Princess Di,” but I decided right then and there to stop being a snob and recognize her for the role model the entire world has always known she is.

I want to be the kind of mom that Princess Di allegedly was. I want my kids to feel like I am their touchstone, the place they can return to anytime the stressors of the world get them down. I want them to feel enveloped in love. I want us to laugh together when I tell them naughty jokes. I want to be the kind of mom that plays adorable dirty tricks on my kids that we can laugh about decades later.

I mean, maybe they won’t ever make a documentary about how hands-on I was with leprosy patients, but at least they could think I was a sweet, loving mom with a good heart and a wicked sense of humor. 

I know that a movie is a movie and Princess Diana had the world’s hugest publicity team at her disposal, and that the British royals have always been devoted to making the family seem like paragons of virtue and style. Di probably had nannies galore along with her chefs and drivers and all manner of other servants. But on some level, she was a real mom, right? Her kids probably had tantrums too?

I picture Princess Di getting through a toddler bedtime without breaking a sweat. When her kids had bedtime meltdowns, she probably just breathed with them—a trick I have tried many times which DOES. NOT. WORK.

The day after I proclaimed to myself that I was going to be less Mommy Dearest, more Princess Diana, we left for a B&B upstate. My mother in law was visiting all the way from southern Utah, and we wanted to show her some proper Vermonting. I had meticulously honed in on the autumn leaf tracker to find a location where we wouldn’t have to drive too far but would still have a good chance of seeing some reds and golds — also a place that would book us two rooms for just one night, a Saturday night, during peak leaf-peeping season. We ended up at the Barnstead Inn in Manchester, an hour and a half north.

Guys, have you ever stayed at a B&B with a toddler? How about two toddlers, who don’t really get along and sleep like octopi with epilepsy? In one King bed?

Long story short, I did not act like Princess Di this weekend. My kids didn’t act like perfectly attired princes with impeccable manners, for that matter. The leaves were not yet peep-worthy, and the B&B didn’t even have breakfast.

In the early hours of dawn, I lay in the dark room after little sleep, wondering why the place was called a B&B if it didn’t, in fact, offer breakfast… or at least coffee beyond the tired Mr. Coffee maker in the windowless bathroom. Later, on the way back from the coffee shop down the street, that mystery was solved:

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 8.57.07 AM

Not actually a B&B. You know what? Princess Di probably didn’t even drink coffee. She probably just awoke revived by the love of her two precious kids every single day. I will never be like Diana, haircut or no. 


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