Super Baby and I are in her new First Steps class, and I am standing here next to the sensory table. Super Baby is fascinated by the little fabric balls that they have in there today. Fascinating and tasty, it seems. I am fishing them out of her mouth, when I happen to glance up and see Perfect Mom working on puzzles with Perfect Toddler. He knows all his colors, shapes, letters, and numbers up to 20. It appears they are moving on to an animal puzzle, if her proud and excited "Yes, that is a giraffe" is anything to go on. I don't know for sure, as Super Baby has somehow got a fabric ball up her nose and I am a bit distracted.
I am trying to figure out exactly what it is about Perfect Mom that drives me so crazy. So, she is tall and thin and terribly beautiful. That isn't her fault; really more her parents'. She wears makeup everyday and knows exactly how to apply it. Whatever, that is really more preference and skill. She rocks the fitted sweater with skinny jeans tucked into knee-high boot winter look, but so does Excellent Mom and she is one of my best mom friends on the planet. She takes every moment to educate and parent her children with patience and structure, which is clearly the result of much study and thought. So, she isn't lazy like a certain awkward somebody we all know. Her children walk, eat solids, talk, potty train, read, and clearly master puzzles alarmingly early. Whatever. Awkward Dad tells me that this is hardwired into some children and has nothing to do with parental intervention. (I think he loves me deeply and is full of it, but let's pretend he is correct.) Therefore, it is hardly her doing or fault that her children are combination Norman Rockwell models/von Trapp singers. On the rare occasions that I have been in Perfect Mom's house, I have been stunned by the order and cleanliness. However, Amazing Mom's house could be in Better Homes and Gardens and I adore her. (Her children also approach Rockwell/von Trapp land most of the time.) So, spacial shininess isn't solely the reason. Her car? Eco-friendly and clean. Her book choices? Up to date and challenging. Her television? She doesn't watch it often and typically only to watch PBS. Her political affiliation? Strong but not preachy. Even the woman's purse is perfect; some Prada or Coach that she found for a steal at a thrift store. What exactly is the reason? None of these things are offensive. The woman is perfect; you would think anyone would be happy to be friends with her and I chose her for my nemesis.
As with anything, it is really more the sum of the parts here. All of these things in one person are annoying, given that I can't even get 2 of these going at one time. So, it is all about me. Charming. So, now I am Selfish Mom on top of being awkward. Well, I can defend myself slightly. I have had encounters with Perfect Mom when she has shoved her perfectness in my face and clearly judged me for my lack of it. Here and here come to mind. Then, there are the numerous times that I have tried to talk to Perfect Mom at the park or pool or parenting place of your choice, only to be shot down like a pre-J.D. Victoria. Or that look she gets on her face when she sees the blob of oatmeal on my shirt but is just too polite and mature to mention it, but I see her looking at it with her perfect little nose wrinkled up just so. Ugh. She is so perfect! I hate her.
Of course, I don't really hate her. Dislike her? Yeah, I might admit to that. Want to be her? On occasion, yes. But the problem here is that I really want to love her and I fail time and time again, which forces me to look at my own pettiness and jealousy in all its clear ugliness. The thing is; I seek a sisterhood. (Hang around long enough and I will get to the point.) I have no sisters of my own, and I always wanted sisters. That whole von Trapp thing again; I might have a slight obsession with the Sound of Music. Don't judge; Julie Andrews is a force of nature. Anyway, I tormented my mother by asking for a sister, pretty much everyday until somewhere in adolescence. For, it was in the dark days of adolescence that I started making my own sisters. A strong sorority of woman that I love to this day. I prefer women friends. Might have something to do with going to an all-girls high school, but I think it really crystallized in the confusing, crush-filled, days of college. That is when I figured out that boys are nice and all, but girls are who I want to confide in, laugh with, and cry to. Boys have their place, but girls will always have your back. And your front too. Especially if the top you are wearing is ridiculously ugly. A true sister will tell you about that, right away. Even offer to switch with you. Now, that is love.
I have not stopped. I seek a sisterhood wherever I roam; pulling friends to me on this journey until we resemble a slightly crazed band of wandering women. Perhaps at times, witches, but mostly wizards with wondrous wit and warmth. The women that I have gathered into my gaggle of gypsies, this epicenter of estrogen, my society of sisters, are as varied and wonderful as some delightful metaphor that escapes me right now. This is because my friends defy description (because it certainly couldn't be a lack of my literary prowess). Their aliases try to capture them: Awesome Mom, Marvelous Mom. Consummate Chef. Excellent Mom. Amazing Mom. Wonderful Mom. Manga Mom. Phenomenal Mom. Professor PhD. And so many more, a source of comfort, support, and challenge for me always. But these monikers are nothing compared to the complex, kind, thoughtful, intelligent, strong, and rich hearts that beat within their owners. This is an amazing array of amazons. Let Prince Hal keep his merry band of brothers; when I decide to invade the fields of Agincourt, I shall do so with my sisters beside me.
Currently, my vasty fields of France are the treacherous shoots and ladders of motherhood. My sisters have been stronger than ever during this tumultuous time of change for me. In fact, my very motherhood is how I have met many of my newer sisters. Newer, but not lesser. I really do not think I would have made it this far into motherhood without them. Awkward Dad is wonderful, see here for how. Oh, and here. But my sisters weave a net around me, really more quilt, to catch me when I fail and fall. Their laughter brings me back from the brink, and their tears remind me that I am not alone. They are never judging or cruel when I am awkward, which, let's be honest, is pretty much all the time around here. When I have a blob of oatmeal on my shirt, one of my sisters quickly tells me, hands me a wet wipe, and reminds me that she had one on her shirt yesterday.
Which brings me back to Perfect Mom. I want to love her. I want to embrace her and pull her into our group of sisters, where she belongs. She must be so lonely out there, doing it all herself. I guess she has other Perfect Mom clones for company, but we all know that clones are not all they are cracked up to be. In fact, things often go disastrously wrong. And I must be honest; yes, I have had a few run-ins with Perfect Mom, but these days, I am the one avoiding her at the park/pool/parenting place. I have such a strong mom sisterhood now that I often feel nothing for Perfect Mom but pity. This is not right. The darkest villains can be redeemed. Doctor Octopus has taught us that; movieverse Doc Ock, that is. I am not totally on board with the current Spiderman craziness. Give me time. Anyway, Perfect Mom is my sister too and I need to make room for her. Maybe it is because I don't have a real sister that I forget that while sisterhood certainly has von Trapp moments, it also has Brady Bunch moments. Perfect Mom is my Marcia. And while she makes me crazy a lot of time, she can come swing her perfect hair in my band any day of the week. It might make it easier if she had a little oatmeal on her shirt though; which sister of mine wants to undertake that? Anyone?
Sarah Addison Allen will take over closing duties today: "We're connected, as women. It's like a spiderweb. If one part of that web vibrates, if there's trouble, we all know it."
Pretty sure this one won't have trouble gathering a sisterhood.
Perhaps there will even be traveling pants involved.
Perhaps there will even be traveling pants involved.