I watched you sit with your five year old working on the gift for his dad. Our kids were the last ones at the table still working. It was no shock it was talking us a while – my daughter was continually grabbing more and more things and I was struggling to feed my upset three month old and also trying to help/ interact with my daughter. “Sure, that looks great!” “Let’s put some more glue,” “ooh, that’s a neat piece, where do you think that should go?” As my daughter jumped up and down to get more things to add to her creation, I caught snippets of your conversation with your son: “that’s a bit much Jason.” “Why don’t you try and line those up in a straight line Jason?” “Let’s make these into a pattern… That doesn’t match the pattern Jason.” I inwardly rolled my eyes. Man, let the kid choose for himself! It’s supposed to be his project and his gift to his dad! It doesn’t need to be perfect. It’s a craft for a five year old. Mellow out.
At that point my daughter finished and we moved over to the card making table, leaving you and Jason. I helped my daughter arrange the cut-outs on the cover and glue them, then she turned to the inside try draw a picture. As she drew, I looked around the room at the other moms. Most of the moms were in jeans and sweaters. A few had t-shirts or nicer slacks. Most had minimal makeup, if any – we’re talking either eye make up or lipstick, but not much more. Most of the hair was in pony tails or buns – pulled out of the face to make playing easier. They all wore sandals, flats or sneakers. I personally had a maxi skirt and T-shirt with my moby wrap and a pair of toms, with hastily pulled back hair and lipstick quickly applied. This was what the moms looked like. But not you. You were wearing a casual black business work suit. Hair down, but cut short, continually falling in your face, somehow not a single stand out of place. Makeup immaculate – foundation, concealer, lined lips, not just color. You were even wearing heels.
Soon we were called to circle time on the carpet. The teacher told I’d about a song the kids had been listening to that they absolutely loved. It was a freeze sing. You dance and you dance and you FREEZE! So the teachers put it on for all of us to dance to. It was a ton of fun – the kids were hysterical to watch and it really was a silly song. It was funny to see the kids who love dancing and the kids who are just a little self conscious. The moms fell into two categories – those who had fun because it was fun and those who had fun because they were there for their kids tried to get over their embarrassment for the sake of their kids. (For the record, two years ago, I was the second type of mom, barely doing anything, but I’m now the first type because darn it, that was a fun song!) And then there was you – who just stood there, looking at everyone else, way too embarrassed to do anything at all. Okay, I thought, that’s it, you can’t even pretend to care? You can’t get over yourself for one little song? Wow.
Then I watched your son turn around and look at you. He hadn’t been dancing like the other kids. I assumed he was just shy. He turned and looked at you, and you started awkwardly dancing. You smiled big at him and said, “Dance Jason!” Then you kept dancing for him, looking mortified, but caring more that your son had fun than about your feelings.
Then I remembered your son from the day I had a classroom observation. He was the slightly awkward kid – you know, the one who might have ADD or autism or one of those other “isms” or something (no judgement, I promise!). He was a sweet boy, but just needed a little extra help. Suddenly I saw you in a whole new light.
Your outfit, hair, makeup? You were probably headed into work and took the time off to come spend the morning with her son. Not everyone is a stay-at-home mom like most of the moms at this school. The control over the craft? Your son might need extra help with focus and concentration and giving him patterns or ideas might be a way to help him focus. And the lack of dancing? Well, if I worked full time and had a kid with special needs, I’d be pretty stressed out too – I might even feel a bit judged. Just like I had been judging you. I felt awful. You were doing her absolute best for your son and just because you didn’t fit the mold of the other moms that morning I had been a Judgy McJudgerson.
Basically I want to say: Uptight Mom – you rock! You know what your kid needs, and you are awesome for leaving work to spend some time with him. You demonstrated love when you felt judged for your dancing, and if I could only offer one piece of advice, I’d say to dance a bit more; you deserve to let loose every now and then!