Thursday, April 28, 2011

Holding the median. Someone's gotta do it.

There are many, many kinds of moms. Some of us break the mold, and some of us made the damn thing to begin with, and wish you would be more careful with it so they didn't have to keep FIXING it all the time. And the rest of us are too busy cleaning up the broken mold to deal with the specifics.

But whether you made the mold, broke it, or cleaned it up - you have to learn to get along with all of the other moms - even when they make you nuts. Just like you have to learn to deal with OPK (Other People's Kids). You are not alone on this carnival ride.

I always considered myself right around the middle. Just your average mom about town. I base that assessment on the moms I find myself interacting with on a regular basis. While I hate to pigeonhole, there are a few general demographics that each of us might recognize - at least partially. I can honestly say that I recognize each of these women in myownself.

On one end of the spectrum, we have the Republican soccer mom, with a college degree she never actually used, driving the minivan of neighborhood kids from home to school to game to McDonalds to swim meet and then back to the neighborhood at dusk. She keeps the bills organized alphabetically by date and remembers to mail them out in time with the stamps she always has in her wallet. She actually irons things and has even been known to drop clothes off at the dry cleaners - even more remarkably, she remembers to pick them up again. She has never smoked a cigarette in her life but does drink a glass of chardonnay every evening while fixing dinner - usually red meat because that' swhat her husband prefers, but sometimes she'll mix it up and grill some chicken. Occasionally, she'll throw the ingredients for a stew in the crockpot before she takes the kids to school in the morning, and she has a little extra time in the evenings. On those nights, if she isn't playing Bunco with the girls, she has an extra glass of wine to reward herself for being so gosh darn organized.

A little to the left (but still slightly to the right of middle) is the mom in yoga pants (who actually only attended that one prenatal yoga class, but just fell in love with the clothes!) driving the SUV full of kids - and yes they ARE all hers thankyouverymuch - who plans her morning errands around hitting Starbucks on the way out, and Sonic on the way home. She's got an iron around here somewhere but she's not sure exactly where, and if she was going to iron something she would just turn the knobby thing as far as it would go and hope she didn't burn anything. She's not thinking too much about politics and charges everything on the credit card her husband gave her when she overdrew the checking account for the umpteenth time last year. She makes dinner almost every night - choosing whatever looked good out of the freezer they have in the garage - sometimes pizza, sometimes pot pies, and occasionally Breakfast for Dinner! and while dinner is defrosting she has been known to relax with a wine cooler in the late afternoon while the kids watch Nick Jr.

Then slightly left of center we have the earnest, educated mom, who carefully chose the private, non-religious school her kids attend, unless she had a connection in one of the hot new charter schools - though she is considering bagging the whole thing and just homeschooling for chrissakes. She drives a fuel-efficient something or other and she has gotten numerous tickets for talking on her cellphone while operating a motor vehicle because she can't stand the hideous bluetooth earpiece that came with her phone. Her food is organic, she paid top dollar for it at Whole Foods, and she hasn't eaten at McDonalds since she watched King Corn and Food Inc in the same week last year on Netflix. She sends money to NPR, and the ACLU every month - it's automatically deducted from her checking account so she won't forget, and she chooses one candidate every election cycle to support via a bumpersticker or carefully placed window decal - usually the candidate that she found least offensive, but boy it was a tough call between Clinton and Obama in 08. She cracks a bottle of wine each night before she turns on CNN - sometimes she just has a glass, sometimes she drinks the whole damn thing depending on how much Afghanistan footage they show before 7pm. On real bad nights, she'll sneak an American Spirit out of the pack she has stashed in the back of the freezer. She tries to stay awake for Jon Stewart but usually passes out before Colbert - she watches him online while she eats lunch in her office.

And of course we have the all-grown-up-now flower child, cruising along in the battered Volkwagon that runs on used fryer oil, and is covered with political stickers. She's not quite a Freegan, but she's thinking about it. For now she buys everything second hand, or her friends give her things they don't need anymore - Reduce Reuse Recycle! - and she food shops almost exclusively at farmers markets, always remembering to bring the basket hand-woven by women in Africa (that she bought at the co-op) to carry her purchases. She refuses to buy anything packaged in plastic, and everything has to be organic, locally sourced whenever possible. She has chickens in the front yard and a huge garden in the back. She would never smoke - except weed, because that's natural - and she can't drink red wine because of the tannins so she carries around an old Mason jar with a tea ball filled with matcha and she just refills it all day long - you'd be amazed how much use you can get out of one tablespoon of tea! She hasn't worn a bra since junior high and she thinks booster seats are a conspiracy to force the public to support big business. After all, she spent her childhood standing up in the back seat of her parents 68 vw bug waving out the back window to passing motorists, and she survived JUST FINE.

And then, there's me. I am each of these women, honestly. All of them mixed up and spit out in a crazy mishmash depending on the day, my mood, and how much sleep I got the night before. When I get impatient with people, I have to remind myself of these similarities - because it's easy to judge and be annoyed, but much harder to really examine yourself and realize that you are more alike than you would like to think. Now that people are starting to make quiet comments about the 2012 election, I have to remind myself - OVER AND OVER AGAIN - that we are all pretty similar underneath the rhetoric. We all want our air and water to be clean, our food supply to be safe, our kids to be healthy, the economy to be strong, and the dog to stop throwing up on the rug.

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