I just cannot tell you how excited I am about my oldest child starting kindergarten. I’m thrilled with the room mothering, PTO meetings, and crepe paper crafts.
I am enthralled with the big yellow bus, the very small children, and the so-perky-you-just-know-she-was-on-the-pep-squad smiles of a painfully eager kindergarten teacher bent on making learning fun if it kills her.
Nonetheless, my real delight is in finally meeting the object of so many years of childhood affection, that elusive and mythic creature rumored to exist but, like Bigfoot, rarely seen.
This time, I believe in my heart, I will finally meet an actual Other Mother.
Easy. I have heard rumors about Other Mothers since childhood.
Lenient to a fault, Other Mothers let their children stay up until long after the late show signed off. Come to think of it, the lucky children of Other Mothers didn’t have to go to bed at all!
Nor did they have to eat their vegetables, drink their milk, or ingest any food that wasn’t a Popsicle, cookie, or pizza slice.
Other Mothers would sign any report card with a smile, no matter how low the grades - and laughed in the face of a disciplinary conference with a teacher.
Our own mothers, alas, were never as cool as the Other Mothers, and we made sure to remind them – often – of this failing.
Other Mothers (and I tried in vain to tell my own mother about this but she was steadfastly in denial) did not make their offspring wear “dorky” winter coats, carry an umbrella, or ever, ever let them be seen in galoshes.
No, an Other Mother was a fun loving ne’er do well who lived to flout convention.
Chore-free. I have it on good authority that Other Mothers expected not a whit of help when it came to household chores – try telling that to my mother, mind you.
In her zeal to make sure I never met a bathroom I couldn’t scour, my mother obviously missed the whole point of the popularity enjoyed by the highly coveted Other Mothers who never made their children help around the house.
Flush with the naiveté of youth, I foolishly assumed that entry into the illustrious realm of the Other Mothers was a cinch.
I’ll be different. As a result, I made many wild proclamations on the type of mother (read: fun!) that my future self would be.
You can bet there would be no toilet scrubbing or broccoli eating for my future children, thank you very much.
Unlike my own draconian upbringing, I was going to let my teenage daughter run the streets until all hours and wear whatever she felt best “expressed her personal style.”
The life of my children, my younger self declared, would be a life led by the blue glow of the late show, loud rock music, and an endless diet of milk and cookies.
Reality bites. A funny thing happened between pre-teen and parent. I forgot about the Other Mothers of childhood lore.
Those fun lovin’ gals of cookies-all-day fame fell by the wayside as I struggled to mold tiny humans into fully functioning members of society.
Obviously, some sort of parental amnesia took over (perhaps they dose you with something on a late term obstetrical visit?) and I came to understand the merits of a healthy diet, early bedtime, and that 4-year-olds (and 14-year-olds) should not share the same fashion as porn stars or J.Lo.
From my mouth spouted phrases such as “you’ve got another think coming mister!” and “because I said so that’s why!”
Predictably, as my son grew, mention of the Other Mothers reached my ears anew.
New age. It seems that the Other Mothers have evolved. My son now assures me that today’s Other Mothers buy all the Pokemon cards the store can sell (and not just when it’s a kid’s birthday either, mind you!).
They further take their offspring to McDonald’s every single day and never make them take a bath.
Other Mothers routinely let 6-year-old boys watch violent cartoons and late-night television and never, ever make them pick up their dirty socks.
Curiously, in all my exposure to scores of fellow parents, I have yet to meet even one Other Mother.
Yet, I still believe they are out there. Waiting. Biding their time until my own children become teenagers.
And faintly, in the distance, I can already hear my own mother – laughing.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt doesn’t have the stamina to be an Other Mother. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460.)