On your mark, get set, go back to school!
That rite of passage, the “back to school season,” is upon us once again, ready or not.
As a result, countless innocent bystanders will be forced into a marathon we have neither trained for, nor willingly entered.
Namely: competitive parenting. Yes, “perfect parents,” YOU know who you are.
Fresh from a relaxing summer honing useful phrases such as, “When you break both legs on that trampoline, don’t come running to me,” I’m just not up to jumping headlong into the “Mommy Wars” this year.
As a result, I just have one little request: Can’t we all just get along?
Listen, I’m not asking for the moon here. Just don’t force me to publicly regret moving to a bad neighborhood where talented, organized mothers prowl the streets and aim to make all mothers in their path feel inferior.
Uniform. I read in a parenting magazine about mothers seen on playgrounds wearing high heels and sexier clothes in an effort to throw off the “frumpy mom” look.
It’s the UNIFORM! Just as the UPS man wears that nice brown shirt, so do I – a bona fide mom in her natural habitat – fetchingly sport wrinkled shirts, ill-fitting pants, and hair that is hastily finger-combed (and, then, only in the front).
Try not to have a problem with that.
There is so much societal (and self-inflicted) pressure on women to be perfect these days.
As if being highly educated with a great-paying, fulfilling job – or the ability to be home full time – isn’t enough to ask!
Then, there is also the expectation (at least, a perceived one) that women also keep in great shape, be a gourmet chef, keep a home straight out of House Beautiful magazine, pilot an SUV or minivan large enough to require a commercial driver’s license, and take care of their families, all in between Pilates classes (because, you know, yoga is “so last year”).
Best foot forward. Certainly, we all want to put our best foot forward in these early days of back-to-school meet ‘n’ greets, room mother teas, PTO meetings, and after-school pick-ups.
I ask only that your foot not be quite so perfectly manicured and/or clad in the hiking boots you will use to take the entire first grade on a nature walk before serving them homemade cupcakes fashioned in the shape of lichens.
Look, we slacker moms WANT to like you. Really, we do.
We want to let you in on the “clique” where the “mean mommies” have more fun (and spend a LOT less time cutting six dozen rabbit ears out of felt for the Easter party!)
Yes, we want you to “be there” for your kids. We just don’t want you to lose sight of WHY you are there – and it’s not to make the other kids’ parents look bad.
Parent pointers. Accordingly, I have just a few suggestions that will, at the very least, serve to allow the “other mothers” (also known as the rest of us) to resist wanting to beat you into submission with your own “Cultures Across the Planet” diorama (cunningly fashioned from rice and school glue using only recycled materials, naturally).
As a rule, please refrain from trimming vegetables in the shapes of roses and happy faces and putting them into your children’s lunch boxes together with your very own homemade fat-free ranch dip and/or homemade fruit leather.
Both potato and tortilla chips contain vegetables and, in our belief, fulfill part of the kids’ five-a-day fruit and vegetable requirement.
Try to remember that your child will succeed on his or her academic record – not the size or scope of your teacher gifts throughout the year.
Neither will points be awarded for having the best dressed child in school – particularly if your child lives in terror of marring the wardrobe with anything approximating real educational experience, art, or activity.
Trust me, clean and comfortable go a long way for children.
Understand us. Most importantly, please keep in mind that every parent you meet at your child’s school – young, old(er), married, divorced, single, foster, grand(parent) or otherwise – is probably doing the best they can with what they have to offer at that given point in time.
Sometimes, that doesn’t mean vegetables cut in the shape of a heart or being the “mom who does it all and maintains a size two to boot!”
It might not mean making every class party and field trip. It might mean a trip or two to the principal’s office to “confer.”
In the long run, however, it will mean making your children feel happy, secure and loved.
Oh, and don’t forget to have a sense of humor along the way; this is particularly true if it allows you to learn to laugh at the “perfect parent” myth.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt has never cut a carrot into a happy face in her life. She welcomes comments c/o email@example.com; http://userweb.epohi.com/~kseabolt; or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)
On your mark, get set, go back to school!