be kind for everyone is a hot mess sometimes yes even you hot pants

I saw a couple of moms together on a play date at the park. Blonde Mom had one happy, quiet little girl, maybe 2 and a half, who sat scooping sand with a plastic shovel. Blonde mom wore large black sunglasses a la Nicole Richie, and head-to-toe Lululemon. She looked cool and composed, one slim hand curled around a Starbucks cup. She sat on a bench and occasionally called vague encouragement to her daughter. "That's great honey," or "good work, babe."

Asian Mom was another story. Her hair slipped out of its ponytail so strands flew wildly in her face. She ran after her rambunctious 3-year-old, who, when I first saw him, was attempting to pull another little boy off of "his swing." Asian Mom pushed a stroller holding an infant who cried the hoarse, moaning cry of a child who really doesn't know why he's awake right now. 

I watched her shush the baby, replace his pacifier, continue to rock the stroller back and forth while she knelt down to look her little boy in the eye, insist that he apologize to the other kid on the swing, and convince him that an identical swing was just as good as the already-occupied version. 

She wore yogawear too, but it was pilled and a little loose, hanging away from her not in the chic-baggy look, but in the style of a person who has recently lost significant weight and has not yet noticed that her wardrobe no longer matches her frame.

The two moms chatted in the disjointed way that two moms on a playdate must do - picking up threads of various conversations at random, whenever they were close enough to hear each other.

After about fifteen minutes, Asian Mom packed up her babies and headed out. I watched her carry her kicking three-year-old son under one arm with ease as she pushed the stroller at a clip, shushing the still-awake-and-still-pissed-about-it baby.

And then...

Blonde Mom got on her phone and proceeded to talk a flatbed's worth of shit about Asian Mom in the faux-sympathetic way that only horrible women can do.

(I changed all the names)

I'm so worried about Mary. 

We just met up at the park, and, well, first of all, Jimmy was just acting like a monster. Totally out of control. I watched him, with my EYES, ASSAULT another boy on the playground. Pulled him out of his swing, like, to the GROUND. I know, I don't know how she even takes him out of the house without like a lawyer on speed dial.

She just looked bad, you know? Like she hadn't slept at all. At ALL, at all. Or showered. It was bad.

Oh, just some old sweats that did not fit and looked like they were about to fall off of her body. Like, eat a sandwich! Honestly, I don't know if she's taking care of herself at all. I know. I'm worried. She... she looks bad. (pause) Haha! Right?

I'm just so worried because, you remember. How she was always, like so together. And Jimmy never used to pull that kind of thing. But now... and the baby just cried the whole time, I swear she looked like she was about four seconds away from just losing it. 

No, I know! I know. I don't know why they had the second one. Like, I hope it's worth it? I don't know. It just makes me so grateful for the family I have, you know? Like, that I have the time to really be a parent to Sidney and make sure she doesn't turn out like... well, not turn out like, but BEHAVE like... you know what I mean. (pause) EXACTLY. So how are you?

Well, I hope whoever is on the other end of that phone call - let's call her Tracy - is having an absolutely perfect fucking day with a perfect fucking outfit and a perfect fucking child because if she isn't, you can bet your ass that Blonde Mom is going to be making yet another call to yet another "friend" - let's call her Bertha, just for kicks - bemoaning not just Mary's pathetic unspooling in the miserable pressure-cooker that has become her life, but poor Tracy! I just found out she still hasn't potty-trained Hester, isn't that just embarrassing?

What struck me about this exchange was twofold - first, the cold and methodical cataloguing of all of Mary's shortcomings at the hands of a woman who was supposed to be her friend, and second, both the speed and delight of Blonde Mom's betrayal. Swear to God, she was waving good-bye with one hand, and putting her phone up to her ear with the other. What a fucking bitch. Sorry. That's what we in the biz call a truth bomb. You can hide under your desk if you want to, but it don't change the facts.

Blonde Mom is every mom's worst nightmare. 

She is a wolf in yoga pants. She is a snake in the fucking grass.

She has ostensibly been in the trenches, so you'd think you could trust her to not give a fuck if your hair looks cute.

At some point her child, too, cried through a play date, so you'd think you could trust her to listen when you talk and commiserate about when her toddler was a crying baby in a stroller not so long ago, or when that toddler got grabby with the swings one time. 

But no. Blonde Mom has forgotten what it's like to be a human. And she cannot be trusted.

She spent the entire play date not listening to her friend, but observing her for the express purpose of criticizing her behind her back. She wasn't visiting. She was doing recon.

Fuck that.

Asian Mom/Mary, when I look at you, I see a fucking work horse. You do your fucking work like a fucking boss. I see you comfort a baby and resolve a conflict with a toddler at the exact same fucking time. 

I see you working the physical impossibility of being in two places at the same time, for two creatures who both demand 100% of you. All day. Every day.

I see that you use every one of your limbs. All day. Every day.

I know you go to bed exhausted every night, having kissed one sweet baby to sleep and gone immediately on to the next. 

And you do not deserve to spend your time with a fucking bitch who is going to dishonor your hard work by making it about whether or not she thinks you're putting on a good enough show.

Let it be known, here and now, that I am a fuck-up, so this kind of high-school Mean Girl bullshit really rings my bell. 

I drop more balls than I catch. I shower, on average, once every three or four days. My house is a disaster. 

I have no idea what I look like when I leave the house but judging from the number of drive-thru baristas who double-take when I take off my sunglasses, I should probably invest in some under-eye concealer.

I'm just saying that I do not have my shit together. I don't ever want any of my friends to believe that I care what they look like, or whether or not their toddlers are having a good day or a batshit crazy day.

I'm just saying, I will never Blonde Mom you. It's not because I'm a good person. I just don't have the time or energy to make a fucking play date with someone I don't like, just so I can watch them carefully for weaknesses and then remember those weaknesses for a mean-spirited gossip sesh down the road with someone else. Seriously? Ain't nobody got time for that. 

Blonde Mom, I'm sorry that you spent your afternoon dedicated to the sabotage of a friend.  I'm sorry that you missed the opportunity to be amazed at her strength and patience. I was. 

I hope you'll remember that it's a good idea to be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. 

And yes, now I'm going to eat my own cooking. Because I too tore down a mom today.

Blonde Mom, I don't know what battle you're fighting. I don't know your story or your heart or your friendship with Mary, Tracy, Bertha, or your gay bestie Phillippe (I imagine.) I'm sorry I tore you a new one in my head, and in this blog post. 

I made assumptions about you based on a brief observation. Part of my anger at you stems from the cruel, casual betrayal I overheard, and part of it stems from my own pettiness, watching you have it so fucking easy, look so chic and neat next to Mary and me, a couple of hot messes. It was only 60% about you. Well... no, realistically it was probably 85% about you. But it was still a little bit about me too.

I hope this was a moment you'll later regret. I hope you'll bring Mary a casserole later in the week. I hope you meant it when you said you were worried, and maybe you'll offer to take crazy Jimmy for an hour tomorrow.

I hope you'll stop giving a shit about the shit that doesn't matter.

And as for me, this post is a love letter to my friends. 

Friend, I trust you to take me as I am, greasy bangs and saggy yoga pants. I trust you to see me for better or worse as Katie, just Katie, getting by, winning some and losing some, fucking up and scoring big, buying organic strawberries and McDonald's fries.

I can only hope I've earned your trust, too. Not a day goes by that I'm not humbled and amazed at the patience, love, ingenuity, humility, generosity, humor, and fucking superhuman strength of a friend.

Let's sweeten the victories and soften the defeats of our fellow moms, co-workers, compatriots, mentors. Let's carry our wounded and cheer for our heroes. Let's be friends.

Thanks.


PS - considered and discarded titles for this post included:

"bitch, be kind"
"let's be friends"
"snake in the grass"
"mom versus mom: a playground parable"
and
"i've got your back asian mom"

2 comments:

  1. "I will never Blonde Mom you!" LOL! And the alternate post titles! LOL again! Ahhhh man, we've all been there, Asian mom. Solidarity to you. Which makes me wonder, has Blonde Mom NOT been there? And how is that fair at all?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I keep wondering if I'm just being naive and a little hippie with my whole "why can't we just all be cool with each other?" spiel.

    ReplyDelete