Monday, May 23, 2005

Do Our Kids Think We're Losers?

Driving through the parking lot of my kid's school today, I was looking at all the well-dressed moms and dads and fancy cars. I live in a pretty upscale suburb of Boston and when I first arrived here in 2000, I expect I fit in better.

I was a lot more corporate. I was married. I was younger. My car was younger.

And now, I've made some decisions in my life that have a reasonable "exit strategy" for me personally -- to be a writer -- but the decisions I've made put me out of the mainstream of moms, to be sure.

I'm a writer -- not at all corporate and make less money than I did at a corporate job, but I love my work.

I'm divorced now.

I'm 5 years older and was an older parent to begin with, so not "one of the girls" which my son senses.

My car is falling apart, but I'm putting my money into my writing and not my car.

Would I love to live in the city and not out here in the boring burbs? You betcha. I stay so he can go to a "good school" but is it? Are the values he sees and picks up subliminally here, the values I want him to hold dear?

There's something tame and well-fed and well-cared for about most of the other mothers I see when I walk through my kid's school. They look obedient and mediocre to me.

They are like well-groomed pets. They are very pretty mothers. I'm sexier and edgier. It seems like there's something forbidden about mixing mothering and sexiness for a lot of suburban mothers. Better to sit around and wear pastel pants suits and get fat. Ugh. I think it's a shame. I don't want to look like "a happily married wife and mother" -- I never was one and I've given up pretending to look like one, if I ever did look like one.

I look a little more dangerous than these women -- I don't fit in. Most of them don't like me and don't trust me. This makes it harder for my son, as they don't want to invite him and me over to play with them and their kids.

Is that fair to my son? I guess it isn't, but I don't plan to excell in their world of "playdates" and wrapping paper sales drives. The master plan is not to be at the top of the heap of suburban mothers. It's to be a writer.

I have friends who are writers, artists, musicians and I was thinking today about how weird they would look to these well-behaved mothers, if they were walking the halls of this suburban school. Do our kids think we're losers, us counter culture parents?

These housewives seem to love their boring, mediocre lives. They can be nasty and vicious to outsiders, that's the coin of their realm.

They see their husbands looking at my ass. They don't like it.

One time my son came back from a playdate at a fancy lady's house, a woman who is really unpleasant to me and takes every opportuntity to say slightly barbed things to me.

He was in love with her snack drawer.

"Mom, she has the best snack drawer," he said dreamily, and recounted this lovely lady's giant drawer of tiny shiny packages of Doritos, Fritos and Mini-Oreos.

Does her snack drawer turn her husband on?

Do I tell my kid I hate snacks and snack drawers -- high-fat, high-salt crap food I don't want him eating and I don't want her feeding him?

I don't have a snack drawer. I have apples and real stuff.

Do I tell him it's all shit?

Nah, not worth it. He'll figure it all out soon enough.

[Some more about me: bio at Worthwhile Magazine.]