I have long admired those mothers who seem to have it all together. They are highly organized and always look good. Their kids are always clean, and they have fresh fruit cut-up into perfect bite sized pieces sealed in Tupperware in the refrigerator and antibacterial wipes everywhere. They cut their kids’ sandwiches into cute shapes and make sure their library books are never overdue. When they drop their kids off at school, and they happen to wear sweats; it’s a cute matching jogging suit complete with a color coordinating hair scrunchie on their perfect ponytails. They meet with the other cute, organized mothers to talk about PTA events and starting a book club. They make the costumes for the plays, and volunteer at all of the school events.
Me? I’m not even close. I’m not a morning person, so whoever thought it was a great idea to start school at the crack of dawn probably has a refrigerator full of cut-up fruit in sealed containers. At the time of this story, my kids were attending different schools, and I had about ten minutes in between to get them there on time. I would roll out of bed, throw on some sweats (not a matching jogging suit, real sweats and a t-shirt and baseball cap), and harass the kids until we ran out the door with seconds to spare. I would drop off my daughter and then drive like a maniac to get my son to his school on time.
On this particular morning, I saw a sign on my daughter’s school saying they were having an assembly that morning to celebrate Citizenship Awards. I asked her what it was, and she said “Oh yeah. I’m getting one of those. You have to come. I gave you the paper remember?” I didn’t remember, and I was fairly certain, that since she takes after me, the announcement paper was still somewhere in that black hole she called a backpack. I tried to tell her that by the time I took her brother to school, I wouldn’t have enough time to go home, change, and get back in time. She started to cry. I sighed and told her I would be there.
I scrambled to my son’s school while calling the grandfathers to make sure they would be there too. “Yes, I know it’s late notice. Thank you. Just be there.” I made sure my son made it into the gates before taking off again. I got to back to my daughter’s school and found a place to hide in the back of the cafeteria. My dad arrived and was dressed nice of course. He sat down next to me and smiled. When my step-father came in, he took one look at me and said, “Lookin’ good baby. I see you dressed up.” Hardy har har. “Shut up.” I hissed, cowering in the corner.
Normally, I’m not overly concerned about what other people think about my appearance, but I felt so self-conscious. All of the parents were well dressed and had video cameras and expensive looking Nikons, while I was desperately trying to figure out how to use the zoom on my dumbass camera phone. So they started calling out the names and the kids accepted their awards and went to the front of the stage. There was Megan, waving like a maniac. I waved back, along with the grandpas.
I was relieved. It was almost over, and I could duck out with my baseball cap pulled down hoping no one would recognize me. Just when I thought I was home free, the principal stood up to congratulate the kids and then asked the parents to join their children on stage for a group picture. I froze, hoping I misunderstood. When I heard my step-father’s hysterical laughter, I knew I had heard right.
I could see Megan’s happy face as she was waving me up on stage while I stood in the back vigorously shaking my head “NO!” All of the well dressed parents had already made their way to the stage when the principal saw Megan trying to wave me up, so she says over the microphone, “C’mon mom! C’mon up. You deserve some recognition too.” Recognition was the last thing I needed. Now everyone in the cafeteria turned around to see who she was talking to. There I was in my full “I don’t give a crap about my appearance this early in the morning” suit. I smiled and made my way to the stage followed by a million eyes and my step-father’s giggling. I joined Megan and tried to smile for the picture. Yeah, that’s me - mother of the year.