Friday, April 28, 2006

park park park park

Who knew that the dress code for mothers at my neighborhood park is cropped denim or khaki pants, a pastel button down shirt or form fitted pastel tee shirt, and leather sandals (often platform or with a little heal)? Not me. I got up this morning, a little tired after a great evening out with some very cool mamas, and put on some yoga pants and an old tee shirt and ratty running shoes. In a rare occurrence, I didn’t have much work to do and Jason had left for work and it was beautiful outside. So, I put the boy in the stroller and we headed out for a nice walk that would land us at the park. Ug. The 20+ homogenous moms and toddlers with their loud proclamations and organized snacks was just what I didn’t need. I am generally social and pretty self-sufficient but I felt trapped and way out of place. Henry had a good time of course but I was nervous when he would pick up another kid’s toy or when he sat in the wooden car for too long while other parents loudly told their whining children to wait and they could have a turn soon. Fuck if I know toddler park etiquette. So, no more spontaneous park visits for us, at least not without out someone for me to talk with and distract me from what felt like a junior high party at which I was the new kid in town. I am probably being a bit melodramatic but seriously, who are these women?

Last night, I was talking to Nonlinear Girl and Bridger Mama about the inevitability of mama guilt and I think that’s what hit me this morning. The park moms (and a couple of nannies) were so organized and put together. They were doing their jobs. As someone whose schedule is so variable that I might be at the office, working from home, on a conference call, taking care of Henry, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, etc. on any given morning or afternoon, I don’t have organized park dates or playgroups or music classes or preschool. I am lucky that I get to spend so much time with my son and my husband, and do work that is fairly interesting, and do much of both out of our comfortable home. But, it is hard to feel like I have any of it down all that well. It’s constant juggling and balancing and I never know exactly what part I should be playing when. I let myself fall into a comparisons trap on many levels today and I have to figure out how not to. Maybe avoiding the park is the right answer and maybe not.

Note: just so you don’t think I’m selfish and crazy and denying my kid the joys of the park because of my own neuroses, Henry goes to another park with my mom several times a week and Jason and I get out with him on the weekends. He also plays in our yard constantly. It’s just the full-time mom clubs I may need to avoid until I can get some more perspective on the issue.


Blogger me said...

you should call me next time. we can feel out of place together. or, you and henry can come play here, and we can feel comfy in yoga pants in the privacy of my yard.

4/28/2006 1:44 PM  
Blogger nonlineargirl said...

Organized snacks? Is that when you remember to bring a snack at all?

If it makes you feel any better, last time I was at the park with Avery, he made a beeline for some snacks left on the edge of the play area and E had to rush in and snatch them from him. This brought the snack-owner mom to attention, and she ended up sharing some with Avery. Maybe there is too much starch in your park mama's britches?

4/28/2006 2:55 PM  
Blogger Bridgermama said...

You should have given me a ring!!! I was out and about this morning in sweats, my pj top and a bub with crusty boogers in his nose, hair and ears. I say forget the cropped khakis and pastels, boogers are all the rage this spring!

4/28/2006 10:38 PM  
Blogger honey said...

we can hang out together! I knew I was in the wrong playgroup when I showed up at a backyard BBQ last May and I was the only one wearing shorts and flip-flops, even tho it was at least 90º... everyone else looked like they were going to a cocktail party. Sounds like some of us should get together and be un-trendy together!

5/02/2006 10:34 AM  
Blogger mama without instructions said...

i love you ladies!

5/02/2006 9:43 PM  
Blogger HeatherJ said...

I am with all of you. I always feel like the sloppy disorganized mom when we go out. We went out to the zoo with some friends and the mom is super organized, with a sack full of snacks. I had a half pack of graham crackers and some water. My kids were salivating over her yogurt drinks, fruit leater, juice boxes, and crackers (in specially designed snack containers). I fel like a big mama failure.

5/03/2006 8:30 AM  

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