Friday, August 27, 2010

Facing the mom brigade

It is 2:22 as I write this, and in -- ye gads -- 38 minutes, I need to be out of my yoga pants, out of my THE STORY NEVER ENDS tee shirt that was my sole recompense for stepping in and rescuing a desperate conference organizer and agreeing to speak to a herd of only slightly interested teenagers about writing.

I need to be OUT of these and IN something presentable that wouldn't get me aired on TLC's WHAT NOT TO WEAR ... and most importantly smiling (but not too dementedly) at the elementary school teachers and (whisper this) the other moms when I pick up The Kiddo.

The Husband usually has this afternoon pick-up duty, and he could care less what he looks like when he picks up The Kiddo. He has no idea how merciless women can be on each other. They rival vultures when it comes to efficiency in picking things off the bone.

So, since I have been job-hunting, I have been getting up in the morning, showering and putting on make-up, and instead of something dry-clean-only, I put on a cute casual outfit and take The Kiddo to school. Then I come home, presto-change-o into yoga pants and T and job hunt on the internet. Thus, every afternoon, I have to rip off such comforting duds and pull back on my protective haz-mom gear.

Dr. Phil would have a field-day with this, I'm sure, plumbing into the dark recesses of my inferiority complex about getting laid off. But honestly, it has zip to do with that. I'm absolutely petrified of the professional SAHM. This is the creature that always pays for yearbooks the minute the notice comes in, sends gourmet goodie bags for all holidays including St. Patrick's Day and remembers to never, ever send anything with nuts as a class birthday treat.

Speaking of birthdays, this creature sends out cute little birthday invitations to the entire class BY MAIL a month ahead, inviting the children to frolic at some exotically themed party. Before you ask, yes, The Kiddo goes to public school. Do you think I'd be idiot enough to send her to a fancy private school where I'd never measure up?

It's not that these moms don't mean well. They do. They're wonderful, and a great resource. Ask them for anything from a Kleenex to an epi-pen and they'll pull it right out of their handy absolutely-this-season's big designer tote slung casually over their shoulder as though it doesn't weigh 15 pounds. Me? I'm lucky if I have a spare Band-Aid or a dusty Life-Saver in the recesses of my tiny purse.

Always before, though, I had the excuse of being a "working mother." They'd forgive so many of my many, many lapses because I worked.

But now? It's becoming clear to me that I am NOT cut out to be a professional grade SAHM.

Take for instance the other morning when I was running late. I'd noticed a rank smell in the car that I couldn't place. It had been mild the night before, horrid the next morning. The Husband commanded me to open up the trunk, which I did. Voila! A bag of garbage that I had no recollection of having put there, and that The Husband had no intention of admitting that he forgot.

"I'll drop it off after I take The Kiddo to school," I told him. Over my shoulder to The Kiddo as I backed out, I gave her this solemn promise: "Sweetie, I know I'm not wearing make-up this morning, but I'll wear my sunglasses so that no one will see, OK? And this afternoon, I'll wear make-up."

She looked relieved, complained about the garbage, but otherwise we made the trip to school and I dropped her out.

Then disaster struck as I was about to make my getaway. One of the Professional SAHMs recognized my car and made a bee-line for me. I sat there praying mightily, "Please, God, no, no, no!" but the Lord did not see fit to intercede.

So she popped open my passenger door and stuck her head in, only to give me some insider piece of knowledge : "You know," she said, "That end door is open until 8 a.m., and you can just drive right over there and drop her off. That's what I do with (name omitted to protect the innocent). Easy-peasy."

To which I'm thinking, Please don't draw in a deep breath. And please, please, please don't make me have to call your name because I know you're (name omitted's) mom, but I have absolutely no clue what your GIVEN name is.

I didn't say any of this, of course. I smiled. Said something like, "Really?" Added a few inane comments about school. Hoped I made some sense and didn't blurt out the word "garbage" because it was so omnipresent on my mind.

In all of this, I realized that I had -- oh, my ever-lovin' goodness gracious -- slipped off my sunglasses. This woman had seen me without make-up. I had been caught without cosmetics in the school drop-off line by a woman wearing the coolest little cotton top (without a wrinkle, I might add) and denim capris (which meant the blasted woman had to shave her legs that morning) and wearing make-up down to lipstick.

She moseyed onto her car. I peeled out of there as if I were a getaway driver at a bank robbery. First thing I did? Toss the garbage. Second thing I did? Say a prayer of thanksgiving that at least I had taken a shower that morning.

Have I told The Kiddo? Are you kidding?

OK. 2:46. The count-down is on and I probably have to refresh my make-up at this point, too.


Piedmont Writer said...

You know Cynthia, you may not be a "professional" SAHM but you ARE a professional writer. You have books published and in print. I'm sure the SAHM's would forgive you yoga pants and no make-up every once in awhile; they (and I know they would) would say this -- "Oh Cynthia, she's a writer. Those artsy types don't care a fig what they look like."

I'm wearing faded blue shorts from 12 years ago, a pink tank top and a really scrungy looking denim shirt to go drop off Monster Baby. I might not be a professional SAHM or writer but I've given up trying to keep up with the "Janes's". I love my daughter and who I am and if that's not good enough for those who might snicker because I look like the undead without make-up, I don't care. I just won't share my killer double chocolate brownie recipe with them.

Jessica Lemmon said...

What Piedmont Writer said!

You are enviable (is that a word?) on so many other levels. Most women would give their Vera Bradleys to be able to say they had managed to write and publish 4 books! (is it 4, right?)

I know I would. But, mind you, I wear my Vera Bradley over the latest movie-tee-shirt from Hot Topic, so I'm sort of a conundrum. ;-)

Matthew Rush said...

I'm just a man, so I won't pretend to get all the fashion and make-up (or lack thereof) and judging other women stuff, but I do know one thing: you know how to tell a story. Even a slightly sad, desperate one like this was made entertaining by your way with words.

Well done Cynthia.

Kelly Breakey said...

I just can't stop laughing because the scene you described was so clear in my head.

Why do we put these pressure on ourselves? I have no idea. But you should really use that in a book b/c that was the best laugh today.

Karla Nellenbach said...

oh my goodness...I wouldve peeled out of there before she had a chance to open my door! lol

Cynthia Reese said...

Anne, LOVED your comment about keeping up with the "Janes!" And will you share your killer double-chocolate brownie recipe with me if I swear never to give it to The Janes?!

Lemmony, you MUST have been watching from some vantage point, because dadgummit, how'd you know about the Vera Bradleys? Or is there some graduate school for SAHM's that I don't know about? And thanks for the reminder that I can rely on the old "artsy type" excuse! Yes, it IS 4!

Matt, you know how to tell a story, too, as witnessed by your own writing skills -- and yeah, we women stress about the silliest things!

Kelly, you're right! Fodder for the mill!

Karla, you are so smart! WHY ON EARTH DIDN'T I? Tee-hee!

Linda G. said...

You know what? You don't have to live up to a label. To me, you are Cynthia You. And Cynthia You is pretty great thing to be, whether you are writing, "momming," or "professional-ing." :)

Patty Blount said...

First, here's a hug.
Second, here's a smack! You need a smack for putting yourself down like this!

Yeah, women are a catty species - been there, done that. I used to feel the same inferiority complex. I was a SAHM for four years and then joined the working mothers' ranks.

I used to spend 15 minutes putting on make-up just to bring the trash to the curb in the morning. Heaven forbid I'd meet a neighbor out there and have to chat. Today, I'm typing this comment wearing a sun dress that's too small on me, wet hair and no make-up. (I'm off today so that means comfy clothes.)

You may not rock the cute little wrinkle-free cotton top the way super-mom does. But do you really care? For all you know, she fights a drug addiction and is a compulsive kleptomaniac after she drops the kids at school.

You are a gifted story-teller. You are a dedicated wife and mother. It's all about what matters more to you. It's all about attitude. I don't apologize anymore for mine.

I say we all band together and toast our new attitudes with some of those double chocolate brownies.

Jeannie said...

Don't let it get to you Cynthia. I used to feel the same way. I talked to my daughters the other day about the fact that I feel I missed out and they missed out because I worked and I could never be class mom, or go on field trips, or because I wasn't perfect.

The girls, are now 19 and 21, one is in a very demanding college program and one just entered her Doctor of Physical Therapy grad program. My son is a rising senior and an honor student. The girls said, "Don't feel bad about working. You would have gone crazy as a stay at home mom."

The point? Being a SAHM doesn't make you a good mom and working doesn't make you a bad one. There are wonderful moms who stay at home and wonderful moms who work. You, however, are a super mom. (Who cares if your make-up isn't perfect?) You write, you blog, you run a house, and it sounds like you're raising a good kid.

Jessica is right...there are people who would trade all their Vera's for that.