I don’t interact with other moms very often. If I do, they are like me: working, busy, and nonsocial. Not antisocial. Nonsocial. There’s not a lot of real world gossip that occurs in my field. We chat in the lounge, but it is usually about whatever CNN or Fox News is streaming. There’s not a lot of family chatter; there’s not a lot of personal involvement. Most of my work, as a contract hospital employee, is, on any normal day, solitary.
My new, second job, is much the same. As a part-time faculty member at the college, I don’t speak with other faculty members often. When I do, it’s work-related. I ask questions about how to collate copies on the copy machine. I set up meetings (or pop in unannounced) and query set up questions regarding on-line systems. Nothing in depth, nothing truly personal. There’s not much one-on-one gossip; there’s not much knowledge of the other people below the surface.
In fact, when I was teaching, when I was in advertising, and when I write, it’s all the same: I’m my biggest adult interaction.
Some days, like today, I prefer it. I love sitting by myself, maintaining the ability to problem-solve, and mentally organize, when my tiny human isn’t present. It’s the quiet in my otherwise chaotic life that brings me a sense of harmony and peace. I don’t feel lonely when I’m alone–it feels like a moment to breathe. Like the first sip of coffee in the morning, or the moment when my son finally falls asleep.
However, I do get a healthy dose of real, adult interaction. Mr. M brings that quality into my world. He fills my quota of gossip, mindless chatter, and deep, emotional conversation.
I don’t need much in life beyond what I have; however, my minimalistic need has made me socially awkward in adult, group dynamics.
Take yesterday, for example. As I am sitting with a couple of soccer moms, trying to make a few attempts at conversation, I realize I have nothing in common with them. They are the stay-at-home mom crowd, not the working mom crowd. Their escape from the house is the outside world. Sports, activities, parties, and school events take up much of their time, and they love to be involved.
They plan, organize, and schedule their life away from the home. They know their child’s teacher’s name. First and last. They know all of the school gossip: who went on vacation, who is teaching a new subject, who is and isn’t coming back to the school next year.
And, although I don’t know for certain, I’m pretty sure they’re committee members on the PTA.
In contrast, my escape from the outside world is my house. I come home to escape. I already live my life outside the home, driving anywhere from 60 to 80 miles a day for work. I spend so much time away from my house that being able to spend three to four hours cleaning makes me ecstatic.
I groan when I think about joining the PTA. I grumble at how this “Kindergarten thing” has me so tired I’m ready to cry. I read about book fairs, luncheons, and fundraisers, and I want to crawl in a hole. Then I realize I have to suck it up, slap a smile on my face, and pitch the book fair like it’s a dream come true, in order to promote a lifelong love of reading in my burgeoning reader child.
Do these peppy, active, stay-at-home moms ever feel this way? Do other working moms feel the same way I do?
Am I as alone in my feelings as I am in my love of peaceful quiet, within the confines of home?
There is a part of me, in my overly-exhausted, mentally-frazzled brain, that realizes my social awkwardness, working status, and emotional fatigue aren’t the only differences between these moms and myself. Their economic status is far removed from mine, as well. Although we all sit at the practice, wearing yoga pants and athletic tops, the subtle differences are there. Manicured nails, expensive makeup, diamond rings the size of small planes, and perfectly styled hair. These small nuances remind me that I am from the wrong side of the tracks.
Literally, the wrong side of the tracks.
They are on the elite side of town. I remember this, from last year. And, like last year, I keep my mouth shut about where I live in regards to them. They talk about building new homes; I think about how to afford a new ceiling fan. They talk about how great it is for their children to have kids to play with in their neighborhood; I talk about how to keep my child away from the mentality of the kids in mine.
They talk about how weird it is to realize how they no longer own “casual clothes,” just fancy clothes or workout attire. I lament how I only own scrubs and jeans, but nothing professional for my new, part-time job.
I am the single, working mom who tries to do it all, but I’m also the loner mom who cannot connect to these other moms–on any level. I can’t meet for playdates, because I’m working. I’m don’t go out often, because I am either with Mr. M–our time is precious–or I am with Tiny. Not to mention, I can’t afford to “go out.” When I do have free time, it’s already been preplanned, and it’s usually housework, home repair, writing, or gym time.
Maybe, one day, I won’t feel like an outcast in the World of Mom. Maybe I’ll learn to be bright, cheerful, and bubbly. Maybe I’ll join the PTA at some point, learn all the teachers’ names, know all the school gossip, and figure out how to balance my life. Maybe, just maybe, I won’t look at the freedom of these other soccer moms–along with their ability to style their hair, even in gym clothes–and feel a strong twinge of jealousy.
Perhaps that day will come. But, in the event that it doesn’t, I’m just fine being the mom that sits on the sidelines, cheering on her kid, far removed from the adult chatter I don’t understand, anyway.