It’s Not You, It’s Me (Okay, It’s You)

Posted by: , September 16, 2008 in 1:43 pm

I cannot maintain a friendship.  Okay, that is not entirely true.  There is Jenny (who most adults now call Jen) who I met in first grade.  And there is Kristin, who has shared my ups and downs since the day she shared with me her vast knowledge of the fajita. 

I have trouble maintaining superficial friendships.  Hmmm…why lament my inability to maintain bullcrap-laced relationships?  Counterfeit friendships are the foundation of modern motherhood. When my friendships break up, I’ll admit I am probably at fault at least 99% of the time.  I know this.  I have a size six foot and it fits perfectly into my size six and a half mouth.  Plus, I do not have a good poker face.  If I find you or your child unsavory, my distaste is visible.

When Benjamin was born I tried to forge a friendship with a former co-worker.  We had both given birth within a year of one another.  We decided to meet at a local Babies R Us.  She and I moseyed through the store chatting.  Her daughter shoveled Cheerios into her saliva-coated mouth while my son sat quietly in the cart (sans Cheerios or sippy cup).  I dodged and weaved the little girl’s attempts to slather wet cereal onto my little one, while the other mom kept a constant flow of the snack coming.  You know how you can tell when a date is going badly?  Well, you can also tell when a play date is going south, too—can’t you?  Needless to say…a post-partum, retail therapy date was not the warm fuzzy that either of us was looking for in a relationship.  Maybe we should have gone with the old standby—a contrived play date at someone’s house. 

In 2006, I joined the local MOMS Club®.  I was excited about the opportunity to take part in service projects and attend a book club.  I do not have enough space here to detail all of the disastrous results.  But, here are a few…I joined the aforementioned book club.  I’m one of those nerdy, bookish sorts.  In fact, I jotted down notes while I read the assigned book.  [Are you finished laughing?]  When I learned the meeting was being held in a trendy bar, I realized my beloved book club was actually a group of martini moms disguising their night out as a literary venture.  That’s cool.  Seriously.  But don’t make me read some outlandishly boring, Oprah-rated book.  Clue me in.  I’ll spend that hour or two at Barnes and Noble instead.  And I won’t have to spend $30 on a gourmet pizza and an iced tea.

Benjamin and I were virtually ignored at every single event we attended.  We realized early on that the club is not so much focused on interacting with one’s child.  It is focused on attending an event and promptly telling one’s children to go play.  But…Benjamin does not yearn to run in circles like a dog, chasing machine-manufactured bubbles to the tune of “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”  Nor does he wish to wrestle a five-year-old.  Or fake sword fight.  He is quiet.  He is polite.  He takes turns.  Taking him to a MOMS Club® event was like dropping him into a den of badgers.  On the way home from each event, I would ask, “What did you think?” and he would softly reply from the back seat, “Not fun.” 

Once, we attended a service project event.  We gathered at a local church to assemble boxes of trinkets for hospitalized children.  The 20+ kids in attendance vegged in front of a TV or fought vehemently over dirty, spit-laden church nursery toys.  And, the moms?  Each mom retreated into her respective clique.  They griped about their husbands, their kids’ teachers and their dermatologists.  Of course, when there was real gnashing of teeth they feigned discipline.  I’m sure that if anyone had actually talked to me, she would have had to pause at least once so she could shout hysterically at her child, who was hanging from the drapes across the room.  Oh, and the worst-case scenario?  Mommies who looked toward me to act as their tag team disciplinarian.  Sorry honey, I’m not here to watch your kid!   

There is a fine line between being the Mommy Police and being a civil yet disobedient mom.  To those moms—the actual Mommy Police–I’m viewed as a dissenter.  Disobedient.  I didn’t want to try the Martini sampler.  I wanted to discuss the damn book.  I didn’t want to foist Benjamin into a badger’s den, I wanted him to stay with me and witness the good we were doing; I wanted him to see the dozens of boxes we prepared for those hospitalized kids. 

When the time came to renew my membership in the MOMS Club®, I declined.  I occasionally see a few of the friendlier moms at Story Time and we smile and say hello.  We are acquaintances.  I prefer these no-pressure, non-Club® encounters.  If I had to withstand another Oprah book, I’d puke up my gourmet pizza.   


1 Feedback so far. to It’s Not You, It’s Me (Okay, It’s You)

  1. ellie on September 16th, 2008 8:20 pm

    I have found my twin in motherhood, you! Here I was thinking I was some kind of weirdo for not liking any of those groups. Please give a kiss to Benjamin from Ellie and Daniella. 🙂

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