One day last week I got to preschool to pick up my youngest of five children. I was the last one there, again, and the other Moms stood around chatting and watching their kids play. It was one of the warmer days we’ve had so far this spring and I had been thinking about seeing if any of them wanted to meet up at the playground after lunch. I realized they were talking about doing that very thing so I smiled and said hello and waited to be included. They smiled and said hello back but nobody invited us.
Huh. Well that’s a first. For a second I felt slighted but since these aren’t actual friends of mine, I got over it pretty quickly. Still, I wondered, why wouldn’t they ask me, too? We smile, we make chit chat, our kids love playing together. Am I unapproachable? Um. No, I don't think so. What could it be? One of my friends told me that before we got to know each other she felt intimidated by me. We laugh about it now but it made me wonder for a moment if something like that could be going on? Could this be chalked up to some kind of weird silent competition between women? Do they see me as someone who’s always really well put together and on top of things? Considering I usually show up in workout clothes that could easily be mistaken for pajamas and one time with a towel on my wet head . . . and I completely forgot that I had to plan one of the holiday parties until the class before . . . I don’t think that could be it.
Then what? It’s true there’s a marked difference between them and me. They are all first-time preschool Moms, their oldest children being only three years old. They all seem to have this certain je ne sais quoi that I am clearly lacking. Let’s call it . . . preschool enthusiasm. And me? Oh my god. I’m Old-Mom now, aren’t I? I remember Old-Mom from back when I was one of the Perky Ones. Old-Mom isn’t necessarily chronologically older than the other Moms; she is just old in Mom Years. When I was one of the Perky Ones, one of my PO friends was more than a decade older than me but also on her first kid (thus making her a PO, too). But then there was Old-Mom who was in between us chronologically but on her 3rd or 4th kid in preschool.
And she was different from us.
And we didn’t invite her to the playground after lunch.
So I guess that’s me now. But…but…how do they know??? It’s not like I bring the oldest 4 kids to preschool with me! All the other Moms are hauling car seats with infants into school while I just get to walk in with one kid. I mean, by the looks of it, she’s my only child! So what is it that sets us apart? Let’s see:
1. Me: Early to drop-off, late to pick up. Them: Reverse that. (TWO AND A HALF HOURS IS JUST NOT ENOUGH TIME TO GET THINGS DONE!)
2. Once in awhile it’s not even me that picks her up. Sometimes we need help from a Grandma or friend.
3. I’m Facebook friends with the teachers. I know their husbands and kids’ names.
4. I might not remember that I’m in charge of planning the holiday party games, but I sure can throw one together in a flash.
5. I know how things are done at preschool (the parties, the egg hunt, etc.)
6. I know other things the POs don’t know, too. The teacher said to me, “Gina, YOU know there’s no school next week for Spring Break, right?” and of course I did because it was Spring Break for the bigs. The POs don’t have bigs; they don’t realize these things.
7. And I (apparently) don’t get invited to the playground after lunch.
Okay. So I’m Old-Mom now. I’m going to have to be fine with that since there’s obviously no cure and I can’t really even undo any of the symptoms on the above list. I don’t need more Mom friends, I have plenty, but I’d always gladly take more if they’d have me. If not, that’s fine too, but my little girl loves playing with other kids her age and I’m not going to let my condition ruin that for her.
So I went with an experimental treatment called “go to the playground anyway.” And, friends, it worked in alleviating some of my symptoms! The POs smiled when they saw us and we had a pleasant time. Half of them left after an hour and we stayed talking and playing with another one for an additional hour.
We had a very pleasant conversation, this PO and I. I might have even impressed her with my knowledge of local daycare options--sometimes talking to Old-Mom has its advantages. This Old-Mom just has to remember to keep treating her condition by doing things like go to the playground anyway.
And who knows? Maybe some of their enthusiasm will rub back off on me.