Monday, June 8, 2009
Do you sometimes wonder about the secrets your fellow-moms are carrying around with them?
D has been in preschool now for almost a year and, during every drop-off and pick-up I find myself wondering about these other moms, what their stories are.
What were they doing right before the slapped on a bit of Chap-stick for the drop-off scene? Do they sometimes let their kids eat cereal for dinner? How much tv do their children really watch?
What is their marriage like, what time to they start drinking wine, do they miss work if they are at home, do they wish they were at home if they are at work?
Does that woman wear a thong under her Juicy Couture track suit? Are those pajamas under the luxe Burberry trench?
My imagination goes nuts.
There is this special thrill to knowing the secret lives of other people. And there is a thrill in divulging secrets too, no? Entire sites, like Post Secret, are devoted to allowing us to release secret thoughts that we don't ordinarily allow to see the light of our real lives. My friends L and C even started a site called shameover where people can write about the silly things they did after that one-cocktail-too-many.
The preschool universe is the perfect milieu for concocting fanciful stories of what "the mom next door" is really like. For the most part, you only see these other moms for brief snippets of time and yet, the logistical constraints of the event--we all get there at a certain time, we all have to do certain things, we all leave shortly thereafter-- give a crucible-like structure to your daydreaming. Last week, while I was putting D in his car seat and a mom I didn't know was doing the same for her bundle of (3-pm-post-snack-energy) joy, I heard her whisper to her daughter, "Just please help me here and be good and I will give you candy when we get home."
I laughed out loud. I have uttered the same thing countless times. But in the Montessori preschool parking lot, where the organic kale is to the right and they are handing out mom-of-the-year awards to hemp-clad women on the left, bribery of any sort and bribery by CANDY? The word verboten comes to mind.
I of course immediately liked this mother. I wondered if she wanted to join me for a playdate. Sans kids...! I sneaked glances at her and into her car to find some clue as to what other secrets she might have. Maybe she hated breastfeeding too. Maybe she chooses the museum to take her daughter to based on its proximity to the restaurant she wanted to go to for lunch. Maybe she still, after three years, couldn't get it together to keep diapers and wipes in supply and had midnight-hour dashes to the Safeway.
I have had so many revealing moments like this. The sleek, sophisticate mom in that impossible -to- maintain camel coat who pulls out a random Hello Kitty coin purse to pay for a bakesale item. The almost-but-not-quite Goth momma whose rear-view mirror has myriad Christ iconography. Who are these people? Where did they come from, how do they live?
It reminds me of the question that always comes to me on vacation, when we are lingering over yet another latte or mimosa at noon or 3 in a random cafe: Who are the rest of these people? What life do they have that allows them to be here right now?? It's just like that. Except writ small, on the scale of child-raising mundanity.
Or maybe I am making too much out of nothing? Maybe those people at the cafes are just fellow tourists, wondering the same thing about everyone else. Maybe the mom with the Burberry and pajamas wasn't up till dawn at her swingers party but was instead...just sleeping. Maybe we are all just boring old moms. It is possible...
On yet another day, taking D to school, I was next to yet another anonymous mom dropping off her child. I noticed said mom sneaking looks into my trunk as I unloaded stuff for D's school project. I knew the look well and tried to be the secret-whisperer from her end.
"I wonder why she always comes to school with wet hair?" she easily could have been thinking.
"I wonder if she feels embarrassed about driving that SUV."
"Is that the mom who has had 3 kids in 4 years?"
Then I noticed exactly where she was looking and I didn't have to try so hard to read her mind.
Sitting there in my trunk was a people-watcher's dream. That Indian mom? The smiley one with the rambunctious little kid who comes to school in an SUV and always has wet hair? She has a box in her trunk with a blonde wig, a bag of Fritos, and--get this--eighteen boxes of temporary tattoos...!
What does it all mean??
(You don't think I am going to tell you do I? Even boring old moms need their secrets...)