Can't We All Just Get Along?
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.