When I lived next to my best friend, Sarah, we would joke about some of the moms on the playground across the street from us. Okay, we didn't exactly joke. We mocked them over red wine, cheese, and Oprah. When I met Sarah, she had five kids (she still does, which is a testament to her amazing patience since other moms would have had at least one "go missing" if they had to endure the hormonal soup she partakes of each day with all those teens) and even though she had a two year-old, she also had an almost twelve year-old, which put her in a different category from the moms with just young kids.
As a result, I didn't see Sarah at the park with the other moms too often. When she did have the time to go there, it was usually while her older children were in school. That's also when I would meet up with her.
At the time, I had a baby and a five and seven year old. I was on the fence. I wasn't just a mom of young kids and my older girls were older, but barely. I had a questionable age gap between my second and third (what can I say? I like the big age gaps - it's wayyy easier to parent when you can teach your ten year-old to drive to the store for you). Although I may have still been eligible for membership, I chose to live in Sarah's world and the Playground Mafia took notice.
The Playground Mafia were the mommies who only went to the park in tight clusters, they never went alone with just their own children. All the children were young and closely spaced, with most of them somewhere between two and five. When the Mafia was on the 'ground, you either joined in or waited until they left. Membership was tight, and there were rules, people.
I used to be in the Mafia. I was the mom with the zippered pouches of goldfish, juice boxes, diaper bag, change of clothes, extra fruit snacks, and two or three educational toys packed for a thirty minute jaunt to the park with my two and four year old. I stamped. I scrapbooked. My entire home was overrun with the girls' toys and crafting supplies. I hosted playgroups, attended playgroups, scrimped begged and borrowed money so that the girls could attend the Gymboree "Mommy and Me" classes. I lived in fear that if I didn't stimulate my girls with outings, activities, something all the time, I was a failure and they would end up smoking on the corner in between classes before sixth grade. While nursing their newborn.
When I first met Sarah, we were chatting at the bus stop as we waited for our kids to go to school. I was frantic. I had been turned down as a Room Mom in my second grader's classroom. I was near tears. The policy at this school allowed for only one room mom, and my other neighbor, Laura, had been chosen. I would apply for co-room mom! I would make them see that if I wasn't manically involved with every aspect of my children's lives they would stop breathing. Or worse, grow up and vote Republican. Sarah just listened to me. When I stopped, she put her hand on my shoulder.
"You'll get over it. We all do."
...to be continued...