A couple of weeks ago, my daughter had a play date at one of her good friends house. I drove her over to this girl’s house to drop her off. This was my first time meeting her parents, and they asked me if I would like to stay while the girls played. Panick time! I mean we are talking severe anxiety.
I am by nature a very shy nature. Luckily, my husband and son were in the car and we were on our way to Home Depot to buy supplies to fix a major flooding disaster that was occurring at the house at that time, so Imwas able to politely decline. Crisis averted.
Yes, I was a server and a bartender for years, a job that requires speaking to perfect strangers all day long in order to procure tips. That I can do, especially behind the bar. I mould keep ESPN and NFL Network on the TVs. I can start a sports conversation with anyone. I love sports. I am obsessed with football. I can talk for hours about the draft, free agency, trade deadlines, where a team went wrong switching from the four-three to the three-four, when a team should bench a QB, etc. That usually gets people at a bar talking (and tipping). I have learned the cardinal rule to NEVER talk about politics. Or religion. I am true to form Taurus, meaning that I am stubborn as shit. I have very strong political views. Because of this I don’t speak up when political discussions are buzzing about in my bar.
Put me in a jail cell with eighteen other women in a cell that is meant for one person, and I will talk. I will even start the conversations. That is basic psychological survival. Time ticks by incredibly slow in jail. Every minute feels like an hour, every hour feels like six. Sitting in silence in a stubborn refusal to talk to anyone makes a bad situation even hellish. Talking, making friends, doing hair is the best way to past time. In jail there are many addicts, mothers who are pulled away from their children. We all have the Sam struggles, regrets. It is nice to cry with someone who can understand the pain and guilt that comes with watching your child walk out the door on the other side of a glass window, while you are cuffed and taken back to your cell. To agonize together about the physical anguish and misery of detoxing off of heroin in a jail cell. Being dope sick sucks ass, but when you are on a gym mat for a mattress, your never ending back ache is multiplied exponentially. The guards seem to get off on watching you flop like a fish, letting their inner sado-masachist come out. You will be lucky if they give you a Tylenol and some Pebto Bismal. The number one way to pass time in jail is to sleep, but insomnia is another horrible side-affect of detox. So, you might as well talk to people. Make friends. Tell stories. Just don’t talk about pending charges. That is rule number one.
Why is it, then, that I can talk to people in these circumstances, but damn near have a panic attack when this little girl’s parents invite me to stay at their house? The most basic and simple explanation is that both of the examples above were cases where I HAD to open up. I had to talk. It is not merely that simple, however. Yeah, I had to socialize, but I was never hit with the wave of anxiety that happens to me when I am around other parents at my kids school.
More so with my first child, there is a huge age difference. 95% of the parents of the kids in my daughter’s class are a decade older than me, at least. I am well aware that there a millions of women who have children at 21 (the age I was when I had my daughter) or younger, but they aren’t at my kids school. I am a lot younger than the parents of my son’s friends, but as he was born three years later, it is a slightly smaller gap.
The age is just the beginning. The economic status in the biggest difference. We rent a basement apartment with three bedrooms from my mother. I live in the house that I grew up in. My children go to the elementary school that I went to. We could never afford to live in this school district otherwise. I mean we have ex-NFL players across the street, owners of huge construction companies next door. A recent Truila search of houses for sale near by, showed a few houses. One was $750,000 and that was the cheapest. Most of them were well over a million. Yeah, my husband and I are affording that lots.
We just look like we don’t fit in. You can tell by the looks on their faces. My husband has full sleeves. I only have a few tattoos, but I have yet to see a mother up there with a tattoo. I have actually been asked if I was the nanny. For real, I dropped my daughter off at a birthday party. The party was their house, but it was a freaking circus. Moon bounce, clowns, animals, a whole slew of carnival games. The goody bags that were given to the kids were worth like $35. So, I drop her off, and the lady says’s ,”Hi, I am (name not mentioned), (girl’s name) mother. Are you her nanny?”. No sorry, lady. Just because I am 15 years younger than you, doesn’t mean that I can not have children. I know that it is a shock that there is someone that is not in the 1% at this school but here we are.
The differences are not just age and socioeconomic status. It is everything. I am not a Stepford Wife. I am stubborn. I can be a major pain in the ass. I am a feminist. I roll up at the school bumping 2 Chains and Jay-Z. Of course there is the criminal record. The fact that I am a recovering addict. I listen to these women talk, and I just can not relate. I do not get facials weekly. I do not attend ten thousand dollar a plate political dinners. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the county councilman who is being groomed to be the governor of Maryland one day, his kids are in my daughter’s class. The struggle of not having transportation during the day due to the fact that my husband I share a car until he gets a work truck. I get looks like I have three eyes when I explain this.
I am not saying that I am any better. I am uncomfortable going outside my shell, and they won’t come out their world. Maybe I should be more Stepford, but it just is not me.