To the Mom with the Pink Hair
I see you from across the elementary school gymnasium, your little boy in tow as you make your way through the sea of moms who look like me. We are mingling with one another, but not with you. I see you buttoning his coat with the quick tattooed arms that say, “Come on honey, let's get out of here.” I see the striding step and the chin angled a bit defiantly, saying, “I do not care what you think.” I see eyes that stare straight ahead. They say, “I see you seeing me.”
I see myself watching you, curious but guarded. “You’re a mom now,” I say to myself. It’s time to tame those pointed fingernails and take the jewelry out of your face. I find myself feeling a little sorry for your sweet-faced son. Offended, even. That poor kid.
I see in an instant a woman for whom the common bond of motherhood isn’t enough to warrant a chat at the playground because “we probably don’t have anything in common anyway and she probably curses like a sailor and I don’t want my kids around that.” A woman who doesn’t get invited to playdates because “who knows with someone like that, she might even do drugs.” And “there’s no way I’m letting my kid over to her house, who knows what goes on over there.”
If I were still twenty, we could be friends because I would be thinking that you’re brave and bold and edgy. You’re everything I’m not and that could be fun. But I’m a mom now. I drive a minivan and I apply sunscreen. I plan birthday parties and I plan for college. And my friends and I have similar philosophies on raising our kids. At least when it comes to the things that are important.
But you are here picking up your son from an after school activity just like I am. You want him to stay warm, so you are buttoning his coat against the cold. You want him to have fun, to make friends. You want him to belong to a community. To receive a well-rounded education. These things must be important to you because you’re a mom now.
I drive home thinking about how I’ve made a snap judgement based on the color of your hair and not the content of your character. I’ve assumed that holding on to that part of your identity makes you a selfish mother because you haven’t become what I think your child needs. But I know nothing. How do I know that you are not already everything that he needs and more? How do I know that you are not a better parent than I am by teaching your child to navigate life on his own terms? How do I know that I can't learn from your philosophy? We could help each other grow. We have common ground.
You have taught me a lesson. I see. And I'm reminded of how important it is to pass this lesson on to my kids. After all, I’m a mom now.