Can't We All Just Get Along?

“Mommy, are you going to come?” Lexi asked, her voice pleading. For weeks, my three-year-old daughter had been excited about the play she was in at her pre-school. “All of the mommies are going to be there. I don’t just want Sally there.” Sally is our babysitter. “Of course, love,” I told Lexi, squeezing her, reassuringly. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

The play was scheduled at the highly inconvenient time of 10 a.m. I commute into New York City from New Jersey, and I’d miss a half-day off work. Cramming a school event into the work day always makes me tense, but I promised Lexi I wouldn’t miss the Seder and truthfully, nothing could stop me from being there.

The morning of the play, as Sally, Lexi and I walked into the Jewish Community Center where Lexi goes to school, the security guard warmly greeted my babysitter. “Hi Sally,” he smiled, waving her in.

As I followed, the guard stopped me. “Do you have identification?” he demanded. “Who are you with?” “I’m with them,” I said, pointing sheepishly, at Sally and Lexi, who had already scooted through the doorway.

It dawned on me – this was only the third time that I’ve taken my daughter to school all year. No one recognizes me as Lexi’s mother. Everyone knows my sitter Sally; I’m the stranger. When I walked into Lexi’s class, her teacher Amy seemed pleasantly surprised to see me. I’ve always felt that Amy sympathized with my working fulltime. I was a true rarity at the JCC pre-school, the only Stay-at-Work mom in the class.

The assistant teacher stared; clearly, she couldn’t place me. Then she saw me helping my daughter with her backpack. “Lexi’s mom is here,” she enthusiastically announced to no one in particular. It was as if I was an exotic relative who suddenly arrived for show-and-tell.

It’s hard to stay connected to school and teachers when you simply are not. I am not part of the coffee klatsch of mommies who meet after drop off. I am not looped into the summer plans, play dates or other activities they have scheduled for their kids. I was actually shocked to discover that morning that Lexi seemed to be the only one going to summer camp at her school – all of her other friends were being shipped off elsewhere. How could I have not known this? Lexi will have no friends at camp, I thought, the guilt seeping in.

As we walked out to the parking garage, I spotted the mother of a child who Lexi plays with. Sasha is a third child with siblings who are much older. Her mom, Andrea, is also not connected to the other mommies in this pre-school group. “Is Sasha going to the JCC this summer,” I asked, hopefully.

“Yes,” Andrea answered. She must have also not been on the receiving end of the mommy memo that no one was going to camp at the JCC.
mcross
08.09.07

Ms. Sach's posting is pretty confusing. On the one hand, she works full time; yet she also claims to "resist strategically planning and orchestrating every aspect of my children’s lives." Presumably, while she is away from Lexi, Lexi's time is in fact planned and orchestrated! So, she is priding herself on not micromanaging the nanny? Huh?
And while noting that staying on top of other kids' summer plans is something she doesn't think about, the main point of the post is her anxiety that her child will not know anyone at camp! Relax, already! If you want your child to be with a friend, coordinate with the friend's parents; if not, don't (and don't fret about the parents who do). Either way, your child will most likely have a great time in camp, even if she has to (gah) make new friends.

Starry_Sky
08.03.07

Before I ever had kids, I used to drive by the local school and notice the announcement board's listings for things like PTA meetings at 11 am. And my husband and I would ask each other, who the heck is supposed to make it to that? It was clear, even years ago, that there was going to be a huge gap between those of us who commuted to work somewhere and those of us who did not. We kind of resigned ourselves to being out of touch and we weren't even parents yet.

SFMOM2
07.28.07

Wendy,
I loved your book.
It is the first thing I have read in a while that inspires working moms to be proud of the fact that they are working. Do you have another in the works?