Ohmygosh. Can we talk about the park? I feel like as the air becomes crisp and Austen's sweet little jackets beg to be worn its the only place I want to be.
That is, until I get there. Maybe it's just my neighborhood, but every time I walk to our local park, I feel a sense of dread when I see certain moms. I "know" them in the sense that we have all been swinging our kids side by side for a few months. Some of them know one another much better--they have kids who don the same private school uniforms, they lease the same make and model of SUV, they serve the same organic grass-fed beef. Whatever it is, they just aren't overly friendly or nice--despite my repeated attempts to make small talk.
A few days ago, I took Austen to the park. Those moms were there. I did my best to join in their conversation while also trying to make sure that Austen did not kill herself in a feeble attempt to keep up with the big kids (seriously, she thinks shes ten years old). They all gave half hearted smiles and sort of reply to my attempts at conversation. So, feeling defeated, I went and put my gal on the swings.
One of the moms broke from the crowd and came over to me. "You're a very yummy mummy", she said. Wha?! What does that mean? Then she says, "I like your daughter's pants". Oh Good! A chance to bond. "Thank you," I said, "We basically only put her in hand-me-downs..." I would have continued, explaining that I am lucky to have so many friends with such stylish children that I would be crazy to buy new things for her at this point. I couldn't finish my thought because she very condescendingly says, "Ooooh. Let me get your information. We are always looking to help someone in need and I have girls clothes her size."
Whaaaat?! Whoa, lady. I will be the first to graciously accept a hand-me-down. We aren't "in need" but we aren't rock stars either. Regardless, the point is--she jumped to conclusions about me and my child rather than simply trying to be our friend.
Austen rocking the hand-me-down pants
I thought about her comments on the walk home. Yummy Mummy? In Need? Did she feel threatened by me? Or did she feel sorry for me? I find myself increasingly frustrated over the overwhelming competition between mothers. I think that's what this, and many of my interactions with other moms, boils down to. "Oh! You have a problem? Let me be the one to fix it/show you how to do it better/brag about how I never had that problem." Its silly and ridiculous.
Why are "mom blogs" so popular? Because becoming a mother is a universal experience. We all feel the same love for our children and desire to raise them in the best way possible. Now, how that manifests itself in real life is clearly different across generations, neighborhoods and classes. Why can't we just be okay with that? Why can't we embrace the community of mothers around us and utilize the wealth of information it could serve to be without feeling defensive?
The ironic part is, the kids all play freely and without hesitation. All I am saying is, open the circle at the park. Stop judging.
I will now exit my soap box. Thank you, thank you very much.