Thursday, March 27, 2008

Odd Mom Out

Today was gymnastics class for Miss Pink. I like that she likes gymnastics, but I don't really like taking her to gymnastics.

It's fine when the mom of her best friend from school is there. This mom and I have become friends (which is why we chose this gym) and she has a three-year-old boy who can play with Mr. Blue.

Because he needs someone to play with. Otherwise, he's doing things like crawling under the bleachers and spilling water on innocent spectators. I try to keep him occupied, but if you know any two-year-old boys, you know it ain't always easy.

I'm envious of the parents of older kids who can sit there pretending to look at their child from time to time, but in actuality they're reading or listening to their iPods. If I did either one of those things, I'd be so tuned out that Mr. B would probably find a way to set the place on fire.

When the friend-mom isn't there, though, I not only have to deal with Mr. B, but in between I have to listen to the chit-chat of the other moms. There's a whole group of them who live in the friend-mom's neighborhood, and I just don't fit in with them, I think. It's weird because we have some things in common: we're all stay-at-home middle-class moms in their thirties. But, really, the similarity ends there.

Part of it, I guess, is that they have more disposable income than I do. (Hard not to assume that when they carry Coach bags half the size of their bodies.) They're manicured and pedicured and coiffed and accessorized within an inch of their lives and you just know they were the popular girls in high school.

But I'm not jealous. Really--I swear. It's just that I find it hard to have an hour-long conversation about coloring one's hair. Seeing as how I've never colored mine, and anyway, what is there to talk about for that long about the subject?

Oh, these ladies could. And they did.

I think I briefly passed out from the shock when the most heavily-made-up of them airily announced that she'd just paid $200 for the last application of blonde highlights to her 16-year-old daughter's hair.

I awoke long enough to hear her say, "Oh, when you have dirty-blonde or brown hair, you really have to put in highlights."

And then I passed out again.

Because, really? You have to? Or what happens? The fashion police come to arrest you to do hard time in the House of Couture?

I guess I'd better start anticipating that knock on my door, then. Because even if I did have $200 extra dollars, I don't want to spend it on highlights for myself. And it will be a cold day in Hades before I spend that on Miss Pink's hair. Sixteen-year-olds are already naturally youthful and fresh and pretty. Why would I want my daughter to feel that she isn't pretty enough without expensive beauty procedures? We can put that money in a college fund!

Please understand: I don't have anything against coloring your hair (or your child's), or even paying lots of money for it. It's your money; spend it however you want (and I would NEVER color my hair at home. When I start feeling old, I'll find a way to afford professional help.) But don't go around bragging about it unless you want people like me to roll their eyes. (Not that they noticed. That's my real problem: that, being Popular Girls, they only pay attention to each other.)

Oh, and another thing: they've got their daughters in gymnastics because they're already in cheerleading. Gymnastics is just to make sure they're good enough to become varsity cheerleaders someday.

Did I mention their daughters are around eight years old? And that if Miss P wants to be a cheerleader, I will wear sackcloth and ashes, so deep will be my grief? "WHO IS THIS GIRL AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE CHILD WHO SHARES MY GENETIC MATERIAL?" I will moan, if that day ever comes.

Today I got there before the group and sat on the end of the bleachers. The Popular Moms arrived one by one and found each other. At one point we said hi. They didn't ask me to sit by them. I corralled Mr. Blue and, when he found two older kids who would play ball with him, I watched the teenage girls climbing ropes up to the ceiling. I was amazed at their strength and agility, the way the muscles shimmered in their legs, and happy to see that for that moment, at least, none of them was trying to think of ways to be more popular, and as far as I could tell, none of them had highlights in their hair.


  1. I'm always the odd Mom out too. Do you live in the South by chance? Because I swear you just described every woman I've ever met here.

  2. The ladies you describe are the perfect picture of my mother. She used to keep me home from school if she deemed me to be having a "bad hair day" because it simply embarrassed her too much for me to leave the house looking like I did. (Did wonders for my already fragile self esteem of being told I was fat at 89 pounds.) I was the kid who had my hair highlighted to an inch of its life and I remember my scalp burning and my eyes tearing up. As soon as I could, I moved away and after living on the west coast, in Seattle specifically, felt like I had found my people. Now she refuses to let me park my one year old with 4,000 miles on it Toyota Corolla in front of the house lest the neighbors might see it. She constantly asks me when I'm getting a "new car." I tell her I have a new car. She says, "no, I mean a REAL car!" Yes I am embarrassed to admit this is my mother.

  3. I was going to comment on your post (something about how those kind of women are so annoying), but vanessa's comment blew me away. I can't even imagine having a mother like that!!!

  4. Fantastic post! I feel you on all points. Have you seen that new (silly) sitcom Miss Guided? An uncomfortable reminder that high school politics don't end with graduation for some people.

  5. Something about gym class brings out the people-watcher in me too. I guess I don't have any other situation in life where the only thing to do for that hour is to observe the behaviour of those around me. I keep wishing they'd come out with something outrageous like that $200 highlighting crack so I can at least get a blog post out of it.

  6. When I had my kids and began navigating the mom circles, I was (naively) shocked to find that the cliques from high school were all still there. But I think I would have enjoyed sitting with you on those bleachers.