Lola started school yesterday, 2cd grade with all it's outfit gathering and backpack picking outing and worries and excitements. After school I picked her up ( I pick her up on my lunch break from work ) and saw a mother I knew mingling with other mothers I knew from the unfriendly, appraising glances they throw my way before they turn and resume talking. I spoke to MomX and after we said our hellos, how was summers, I asked her if Lola needed to stay for the Girl Scout meeting they were apparently having in a few moments. ' No, ' she answered. ' This isn't for the girls. It's just for the moms. ' I started to ask about this and she continued in a dismissive tone- ' Not all the moms, you know, just the leaders or like, the moms who are involved, the moms who do things. '
One of the Other Mothers ( who I don't know at all ) made a face and turned her head and I'm hoping I translated it correctly into feeling bad for me, and not judgement of me ) I stood for a half second, picked my response, and said ' Well that was a scathing indictment. ' Another mom raised her eyebrows. MomX hurried, ' You know what I mean, I know you can't. '
I don't, and I can't.
My chest curdled in on itself and I walked back to the car with Lola, trying to listen to her stories of the first day of school, fighting back tears. Not only were the other mothers never inclusive or friendly towards me, I now suspected they judged me as severely lacking as a mother. I am not involved enough in the ways that make me a Do. It hurts. My life, the way that I live, the way my husband and I act in our marriage and in our parenthood, just doesn't make sense to these ladies. It's fine to say Who Cares, or as Mr. Curry reassures, Fuck Em, but I have to see the Other Mothers in large, Nike'd and carpooling packs every day, navigate through the throngs of waiting parents as mother after mother that I have been acquainted with over the years does not return my smile or my hello, so that I have stopped trying, and walk silently, and stand and wait silently for Lola. I feel like I'm the Breakfast Club girl with dandruff, I feel like I'm reduced. I don't know how to stop feeling that way.
I cannot figure out what makes it this way, and although common sense tells me it is futile and self destructive to do so, I can't help myself. ' It's jealousy' would be a nice laurel to rest on, but it doesn't make sense, really. I'm not stunningly beautiful or model thin, I have no money and my life swings on a broken pendulum of problems and disasters that Mr. Curry and I navigate, hands held, breath held, children in gunny sacks at our side. I just do things differently than them. Can it be that simple? I can pick and peel the onion...I'm younger than them, but not enough to matter. Mr. Curry and I do most things together. He was the only dad within miles at Lola's first Girl Scout gathering. The Other Mothers were all there in their clumps of three and four, ignoring me as usual. I don't see the other dads around but once in a blue moon. The Other Mothers spend their weekends with their kids, while from what I can gather eavesdropping and from Lola's recountings, the dads are working, golfing, or ' I don't know where X's dad is Mom, I've only seen him at her house once and he didn't talk at all and I think X is sad because her Dad is not around. ' I'm not making this up. This is straight from Lola's mouth with no prompting from me, about 2 weeks ago. And it's not the first time I've heard this. So far Lola on her own has noticed or mentioned the almost complete lack of Dad involvement in three of her friend's lives.
I think that because I'm not sewing Lola's badges correctly and finding time to volunteer as a Head Mother and because we are poor? I am seen as an outsider and worse, as a bad mother. But I'm not. I could list the things I do, the ways we are involved, and what I think about the kind of non-discipline and guidance and REAL involvement that I see going on around town all the time, but damnit I won't. You guys read my words, see my pictures, you guys love me in your distant internety way, and I don't have to explain myself to you. Because my house is messy and filled with art and animals and books everywhere and my husband and I slap each other's asses in public and I cosleep and long-nurse and organic and FUCK. I am an alien around here. I probably answered my own question.
Lola has playdates with the children of these Other Mothers, and it's horrible for me. I'm getting social anxiety. My stomach hurts when I pick her up and go to the door and the Other Mother strains a smile and hurries Lola out the door not even making eye contact with me. It's just shitty.
Mr. Curry says ' hold your head up ' and he's right. I have to figure out how to move past this sadness and anger. I just don't know how to get there yet.