Ever Feel Like The Odd Mom Out?
I say no, partly because I believe it, and partly because I need to believe it. I’m a single mom. I support my kids with my work. If I’m volunteering I’m not working. If I’m not working I can’t pay our bills.
But it’s not just my job that keeps me away from school. It’s—deep breath, true confession-- the whole world of the Really Great Moms.
When I’m at school I realize I’m not a Really Great Mom. I’m actually not a very good mom. I’m not trying to compete with other women. I like who I am. I want to be who I am but when I’m at school I suddenly feel inadequate. Why? Well, I don’t dress up. I love my jeans. I don’t enjoy photocopying handouts. I don’t like cutting things out of construction paper. I’m bored pouring drinks into Dixie cups. And God forgive me, but I’d rather stab myself in the hand with sharp edged scissors than sit in a reading circle and listen to second graders read.
The problem is all mine.
I’m not patient. And obviously, I’m not particularly kind. Nor am I selfless enough to enjoy the activities the Really Great Moms do to benefit the classroom.
Now, as a former English teacher, I can still teach a novel. I can coax angry, disenchanted teens to discuss the themes in fiction. I can teach ESL students vocab and help gifted students write a screenplay or their first autobiography, but my strength isn’t being sweetly helpful. My strength isn’t being frequently and/or freely available. I’m not freely available. I’m busy and I work hard and I’m passionate about what I do. So I do that, a lot, which is where the parent guilt comes in.
Other moms volunteer more at school. Other moms are more patient.
Other moms are much more kind.
And that’s how Odd Mom Out come to be.
I listened to my son, thought about his school, and thought about my reluctance to volunteer. It didn’t take much massaging before I had the novel’s premise: What if a maverick single mom had a daughter that wanted to be popular? What if the daughter didn’t want a maverick mom, but a mom who’d act like more like the Really Great Moms? What would the feisty independent mom do? And what would her daughter feel? And what does it mean when a mom loves her child more than anything, but somehow it’s never quite enough?
That’s the story of Odd Mom Out. And my story. As well as the story of well-intentioned moms everywhere.