Thursday, August 13, 2009

Which mom will I be this year?

I am not a social person by nature, so when I am forced to interact with others I spend a lot of time thinking about the impression I am trying to make on the people I am meeting. I know that my shy silence can be taken as cool reserve, leading people to think I am aloof, so I give a lot of thought to what I will say & how I will say it.  I am easily flustered by simple questions like “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?”.

I worry a lot about boxes. I don’t mind them much. When you first meet a group of people it is handy to have adjectives to hang on them to help you remember each one. When each child has at least 15 classmates, you are not going to get close & friendly with 30 other moms (at least, I’m not) so it’s helpful to say “Billy’s mom Joyce. She’s the one that sells Mary Kay.” or “Caitlin’s mom Ann. She made the mural on the classroom wall.”  I worry though because there isn’t much to say about me. “Havoc’s mom. You know, the quiet one.” or worse “The snobby one who won’t talk to us.” 

I know from past PTA type experience around here, that first impressions are the only impression unless you really get to know someone, so I figure since I am going to be put in a box I might as well choose which one I want.  I tend to prepare what sort of persona I want to show before I meet people. I think about hobbies, work and activity related things, questions about what the new person does and try to come up with a truthful yet very indirect answer to the inevitable “Where do you go to church?” question.

(saying upfront that I belong to a Wiccan coven leads to a good deal of immediate awkwardness in an area where 19 out of 20 kids get out of an hour of class time every month to attend the bible bus parked in the soccer field. I’m awkward enough socially without adding that.)

The boys had martial arts class Monday. I have been the only parent there for the past 3 classes, which is a bit boring for me. I decided this time I would bring the crochet project I am working on to kill time. Only this time more kids showed up for the class, and their moms stayed. We parents sit over in a corner out of the way and I was already crocheting when they joined me. We talked a bit about the class & about the teachers our children would have in school this year (the martial arts class is for the k-2nd graders at the primary school). The conversation eventually came around to what I was making. I said it  was an apple & since it was obvious she wanted to know why I said I was making them to give to the boys’ teachers at the meet & greet.

I could see the from their expressions the instant I became THAT MOM. The crafty one that helps out in the classroom with creative projects and gives out handmade overly elaborate goodie bags along with decorative cupcakes on their child’s birthday. I could tell from their questions & the direction of the conversation they were thinking I’d probably put together a scrapbook of classroom activities for an end of year teacher gift.

I am *so* not that mom.

I am hard pressed to explain why I suddenly decided to crochet apples for the boys’ teachers. Probably vague guilt over the way I totally failed to do end of year gifts in May and the lame unwrapped gift cards I gave for Xmas.

One of the martial arts moms is Havoc’s new teacher’s SIL. I live in fear on meet & greet day I’ll be greeted as “Oh you are the crafty one! Shannon told me all about you!” and then I will be asked to lead some art classes.

Still, it’s better than being the silent/snobby one.


Too Many Hats said...

I was going to suggest you come to the meet and greet with camera in hand and be the photographer mom - you are so good at it and that you come throughout the year and yes at the end make one of those scrapbooks you order online - it could be your end of the year gift to the teacher & you could offer for parents to purchase one too. I'm sure all the moms would love that and you would be the coolest mom ever :)

Jennifer Wilson said...

Wow Stacey, I could really identify with this post... even though I'm not yet a biological mom.

Like you, I'm socially awkward, crafty and hold spiritual beliefs outside the norm. I'm great with conversations about work or blogging or crafting (or conversations with kids), but I totally fear adult small talk, knowing that I'll be the odd duck (particularly here in the midwest).

I'm already the "he-certainly-robbed-the-cradle" stepmom, but haven't had to deal with that many social situations where I felt judged for it.

I don't have much of a point here, other than to say thanks for your story and you're not alone. I do agree that its better to be known as the crafty mom than for people to think you're unfriendly.

Jennifer Wilson said...

Just read the comment from Too Many Hats.... reminding me that DH always tells everyone that I have several blogs, most often because I'm toting my camera along.

There's nothing wrong with being "that mom who takes lot of photos of dinosaurs for her blog"!

Aunt Becky said...

Oh I totally get this. I signed up for a bunch of different roles this year. I need to be more active with Ben's school. Period.

Creative Junkie said...

I totally get so many of your posts, this one included.

I don't know which mom I'll be. I'd love to be social but sometimes it's hard because I'm finding so many moms around here are in cliques and I'm so not a clique person. I'd rather be the quiet aloof one that join a clique.

The Women's Colony said...

I did a lot of different things in the elementary school years, but you're right--being seen as the crafty mom is the kiss of death.--Jenn