I have worked a variety of jobs, starting from the age of 13 (I'm talking to you, Babysitting!). I've worked in retail, restaurants, hotels, airlines, and banks. No matter what type of job I applied for, there was always a giant stack of resumes from my overqualified competitors sitting on the interviewer’s desk, messing with my pre-interview Zen state. I would see the stack and think, “I’ll bet he has his Master’s degree,” or “She must have five years of experience.” I would freak myself out, comparing myself to these (unknown) people who were vying for my same job.
What a relief to become a mom and say good-bye to competition forever!
Scene 1, daytime, crowded park with lots of moms and babies in strollers.
Me: Your baby is so cute! Is he rolling over yet?
Random mom: Are you kidding? He's three months old! Of course he rolls over. He also crawls, pulls up, cruises, and just took his first steps.
Random mom: Why? How old is your daughter?
Me: Son. He’s also three months.
Random mom: Oh, sorry, honest mistake. He looks very, uh, kinda feminine. I’ll bet people make that mistake a lot.
Random mom: So, is he rolling over yet?
Me: Well, if we give him a little push, then he’ll roll over. But then he just cries because he can’t go back.
Random mom: Oh, we went through that phase with my daughter. No big deal.
Me: Where is your daughter? Is she the one on the monkey bars over there?
Random mom: Oh, no. My husband took her to gymnastics. She’s training for the Olympics. In fact, we hired the same coach who worked with Shawn Johnson. Oh, my, what’s that smell? I think you might need to change your son’s diaper.
Me: Uh, okay, thanks. I’ll do that. Umm, can I borrow an extra diaper? I seem to have forgotten the diaper bag.
Dare I say that the doctor’s office, preschool, grocery store, and local swimming pool were no better? I would constantly meet moms with a secret hidden agenda, and that agenda was to make me feel bad about my parenting skills (or lack thereof). Just when I finally felt good about buying the baby organic applesauce, along comes a mom who makes her own applesauce and grows her own apples on her own organic orchard.
I was not mentally prepared for this kind of daily drama and angst. Honestly, I am merely trying to get through the day without forgetting to put a stamp on the electric bill or accidentally dropping my toothbrush in the toilet (again). I don’t need other people (especially other moms! I thought we were all in this together?) giving me a complex because I don’t bake my own bread, teach my kids piano, sew all their clothes, use “green” cleaner, tutor my kids in French, and post Facebook updates daily complete with professionally-shot portraits or at least artistic candids.
For this reason, I am writing an open letter to one-upsmomship moms everywhere to let them know about me and my standards:
Dear Stepford Moms,
I applaud you. Somehow you manage to do what you do on, what—four hours of sleep per night?—and still look beautiful, skinny, and Nordstromed. Your house looks like an ad for Pottery Barn, you never have dirty dishes piled in your sink, and your yard was featured on the cover of “Landscaper Monthly.” Your husband is gorgeous and utterly devoted to you, your kids speak five languages and have been pre-accepted into Harvard (who knew that they accept eight-year-olds?); and even your dog does a variety of impressive tricks.
Maybe you could come to my house sometime and teach me some impressive tricks. My repertoire consists of getting a room-temperature bottle of Chardonnay really cold really fast by sticking it in the freezer and checking on it every 30 seconds. Wait, that’s not true—the last time I forgot about it and it exploded.
How do you do it? How are you so perfect, while the rest of us mere mortals hobble along, working at the high-end kitchen store and pretending we know about espresso machines (hint: We don’t)? I want to be perfect, I really do, it’s just … well, I’m tired. I was perfect for about 11 minutes back in 2008, but that was when the kids were at my mother-in-law’s for the day. As soon as I do the laundry, it’s dirty again. As soon as I make the bed, it’s time to go to bed. As soon as I wash the dishes, it’s time to make (yet another) dinner. I can never seem to get ahead.
But for now, I will go ahead and meet you at the park. I’ll be the one with the two little boys slinging mud at each other and screaming, while I calmly sip my latte and hope you don't detect the hint of Kahlua on my breath. Because I finally resign myself to the mud and the noise. (And I carry breath mints. Lots of them.)