They are there chatting through mini-van windows long after the second bell has rung and their children have begun the day’s lessons.
They linger, heads together in a close-knit circle post-PTA meeting.
They are early for pick-up because they volunteered to do some filing for the teacher.
They are the “Full-Time Moms.”
Well that isn’t really the right term, all Moms are on the clock 24/7.
Maybe I should say “Stay-at-Home Moms”? Or “Don’t Work Outside the Home Moms”? Or just plain “Lucky Moms”?
I’m not making judgements about these women, many of them are my friends–in fact many of them think I’m one of them.
Early this week I was sitting at a meeting of “Class Moms” (We plan the parties) discussing the best times to use the copier in the front office (well, I was sitting and thinking of the next opportunity to make a wisecrack–which is my primary function at meetings).
“There are a lot of politics about the copier at CSU too,” I whispered to the woman next to me.
“YOU work at CSU!” she whispered back, not even trying to conceal her surprise. “I had NO idea!”
It was then I realized that I’m living a double life of sorts. I’m a journalist teaching two journalism courses at Colorado State University and freelancing for a variety of magazines and newspapers. But they only see “Mommy Me”: fussing over my daughter’s hair on picture day, weeding the flower bed in front of the school and discussing curriculum during parent meetings at school.
Maybe now they won’t think me quite so rude. They will forgive me for breaking into their conversations just to find out a needed bit of information or skipping out early from the planning meetings for “Teacher Appreciation Week” or (gasp) not getting involved with the “Fall Fun Festival” at all.
When juggling a career and family you always have to be light on your feet, ready to dash off to fulfill the other responsibilities in your life before a ball drops.
The thing is with the great juggling act, not all the balls actually hit the ground.
It’s not like I’ve forgotten a ballet rehearsal, I just got caught on the phone with my editor one time and arrived late to find her face stained with tears as she struggled through the performance. A lot of times I have to get my CSU students talking about the latest celebrity news the first five minutes of class so I can figure out a lesson plan for the rest of it. And I’ve blown more than a couple of deadlines because my daughters needed help with their homework, fell down or just generally needed their Mama.
In the “Mommy Wars” between those who work and those who stay home the ammunition is guilt. Guilt that we aren’t directing at each other, but at ourselves.
I see those Moms huddling after the kids are dropped off and I wonder if I shouldn’t be with them. On Wednesday I heard them discussing their middle schoolers math homework; problem by problem. I didn’t even realize my middle schooler had math homework the night before.
Does that mean I’m dropping the “Mom Ball?” Some would say so. There are also those who would say the problem-by-problem moms are overly involved. Whose right? My best guess is all of us–and none of us.
The main thing is that the vast majority of moms out there are doing their best and we should all pat them on the back for it–right after we get done patting our own.