October 12, 2011

books and covers

Today is Ivy's library class day. We look forward to it all week. But it's still kind of weird to me that I have yet to have a conversation with even one other parent there.

We go up the elevator to the kids' section and she finds her name tag necklace. Then the teacher (or PERSON who lives in the library) ushers the group into another room for twenty minutes while the moms wait outside. And during that time I mosey around the books or check my phone but I never talk to one of the other moms and they don't talk to me. Why is this.

When storytime is up, we are called in to watch an old film from a projector onto a white screen and then we make a craft. I've caught a few weak-smiled glances here and there a couple of times - maybe they like Ivy's colorful outfit today or maybe they are thinking does that child ever wear matching clothing?

Admittedly, just like the beautifully illustrated hardbacks I pile in my arms, I am totally guilty of judging books by their covers.

Most of these moms are wearing workout clothes and look good in them. Like, they just came from a run or yoga class but had time to fix their hair, so. And I clearly just woke up, finger brushed away the bedhead and threw on the same jeans from yesterday (and okay the day before that, too.) I imagine that if any one of them ever does talk to me, I'll find out that their kid in the library class is their first child. That would explain a lot. Maybe I don't engage with them because I don't want to know any different.

Ahh, I have issues. Off we go!

(I'll keep you posted)

24 comments:

  1. I totally get this. I feel this way at Storytime at the Library and after school when I pick up the kids.
    It is hard being the new kid here in town, and this town is so big I wonder how I will ever meet people and NOT be the new kid? People judge my cover just as I judge theirs. It is what prevents us from becoming community.

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  2. If you have issues, so do I. I often don't feel like I fit in, but I've been slowly growing more comfortable with that.

    Janelle
    GraceTags

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  3. I met one of my best friends at a library story time. Of course it was because Giggles came out of the room holding her hand and insisting we go and eat lunch with them, but it was all thanks to storytime.

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  4. I understand what you're saying.. especially when they find out how many I have, their look of shock gets replaced by "Ahh, THAT explains it." Which then makes my stomach turn with their judgement-y eyes. Sigh.

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  5. You are certainly not alone on this one. I see moms like that when I do drop-off in the morning (when I'm usually still in pjs!) and they're all primped and pretty and perfect...and I'm just...barely making it. How do they do it?

    But also, I've had people tell me that they were scared to talk to me when we first met because I looked so confident and self-assured. (I'm not.) And they were nervous to talk to me. Which, of course, is exactly what I thought of them!

    Do we ever really get out of that middle school mentality? *sigh*

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  6. Don't worry about it :) Sometimes it's nice to just be able to sit back and do nothing while someone else keeps your child occupied. I remember the numerous "classes" I used to take my son to...most times I just wanted a break from thinking (which also included talking.) :)

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  7. I remember going to those groups with Addison and feeling like I was his bodyguard, not allowed to talk to any of the other parents or something. Were it not his mission to introduce himself to every person in the world, I may never have talked to anyone.

    But the feeling I had was that sense of, "please be good, please be good, please be good" toward my own kid. Like, we're in public, this is how we'll be judged for all eternity, so don't screw it up. And any time a kid does speak out of turn (mine) or get up and move around (mine) or shy away from the pack (not mine in a million years) it's like the parents (especially the first timers) are overcome with a vibe not unlike the tense pity and disappointment that accompany an Olympic figure skater crashing to the ice after a failed triple lutz.

    All that to say, I think in those library reading groups (and all other public gatherings of little kids and their parents) we just put too much pressure on ourselves, which makes us a little less chatty and friendly.

    /blogpostlengthcomment

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  8. It's hard. It just is. The other day I made the assumption I was talking to a new, first-time mama. Turns out it was her 4th kid and the others were all in school. We need those reminders about books and covers. I love your honesty in this post, as always, Steph.

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  9. I am totally this way too! There are really two groups of moms at Aidens school..the moms who have it all together and show up in well planned outfits and full make-up and the moms that show up in their ducky pajamas. I fit somewhere in the middle so I don't really talk to any of the other moms.

    I get so frustrated with myself!

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  10. I felt this way at B& N storytime when I first moved here. But dahlin, prob the opposite is true, they look at fabulous you and feel insecure in their sweats...or your attentions to the phone say you are closed for chatter? Just smile and engage one of them, address a question to the crowd of them. "How many kids do you mamas all have?" is probably appropriate! LOL. Or go the shake it up route and say "My! kids really put a dent in your sex life huh? Aren't we all so glum!" LOL. But that is just me, and ya love me or hate me but you will probably develop an opinion one way or the other!

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  11. This is why I loved storytime at Borders - the parents seemed friendlier and were quicker to welcome me, the newcomer, in. I've yet to re-try library storytime, but guess I should sometime soon...

    I'm not sure why the difference in atmosphere - maybe it's the storytime leader, the lady at Borders was incredible and seemed to reach out and involve all the parents who were willing to be involved which meant that we in turn interacted with each other. And storytime was "structured" but in a loose sort of fashion, the kids were loud, the marched around the store, they made messy crafts, they had fun - at the library it isn't that way.

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  12. I bet they're wondering how they could possibly look as cute as you and Ivy. I know that's what I would be thinking. ;) xo

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  13. Oh man, so funny!

    Judah did a music class for several years. When I was pregnant with Finley was the last year we did it. All of the other moms would chat about something they all knew about it (I think their kids went to the same preschool & were planning to go to the same charter school) and I would just stand there awkwardly trying to smile at them, but mostly just looking at my phone. Aren't you so thankful for phones to give you something to do during those awkward moments? :)

    I totally bet those are their firsts!!

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  14. Sometimes, if I know I am going somewhere after going to the gym (which I haven't been to in 2 weeks due to sick kids plus general laziness) I will shower before I go. I even put on makeup and fix my hair. So then after working out, I might not be such a mess. I only do this sometimes though (meaning not that often at all).

    Also, when I go to things where it is just me and one kid, the one kid is busy, I don't always try to make conversation. Our life is loud. It is okay to want some time to think and browse and not make small talk with strangers.

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  15. There is a mom at my son's preschool who seems to have bought an entirely new wardrobe of workout clothes for preschool pickup and drop off. She's an acquaintance and I've heard her say, MANY TIMES, that she doesn't work out. Yet, everyday, there she is in her perfectly matched outfits.

    Also, I think it's very, very weird at kids activities when the moms don't socialize. Maybe that's me projecting what I want onto the situation, but that's half the reason we bother going to those things. It's for me, too!

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  16. i joined our kids library class with the specific intention of meeting other moms... it took me about a year, but i'm so glad i kept going because the girls i finally did meet? wonderful.

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  17. Thank you for making me feel more "normal" I always took the first two little people to the library class and worked on getting to know other moms and children - not always easy. Now, I feel like I'm a 2nd generation library mom with the two babies and probably incorrectly assume that the other moms are more comfortable coming in, going out and interacting little. Why is it that we all seem more comfortable doing the motions to the nursery rhymes and singing the hokey pokey in our circle than we are to step away from the kids and say hello?

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  18. Hey Steph, here is a link to my personal fav. babywearing photo:

    http://a6.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/216061_1016225204382_1187648744_30080118_6969_n.jpg

    I'm excited to see what surprise you have for next week :) Take care!

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  19. I totally get this. But you've got to know that it's just your own insecurities taking over, and that they are thinking the same thing about you - that you look more put together than you give yourself credit for. And they're probably putting themselves down and are more insecure than you realize. Like, they're probably thinking, crap, I didn't even have time to shower and just threw on yoga pants for the thousandth time. (Maybe that's just me talking now...postpartum, those are still the only pants I fit into!) Anyway, we are all too scared and hard on ourselves, and I am no different. Had a playdate a few weeks ago and realized I was so nervous to meet the mom, afraid that she'd be so put together. Of course my fears were unfounded - not that she didn't look just great - but she was totally nice and down to earth. Good luck - it's hard to overcome these things!

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  20. Thank you for contacting me on flickr about a babywearing photo. That's how I discovered your blog and I just LOVE it!

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  21. I always find this situation interesting...depending on the group, it can be totally uncomfortable or very relaxed. Last year at preschool pick up for my then 4 and 3 year olds, I always waited outside the "3's" class b/c the moms were friendlier. I HATED waiting outside the 4's class- it was a VERY different vibe. I've sort of learned to identify a "buddy" early on before I feel like too much of a geek. (Because if I am feeling uncomfortable, chances are someone else feels that way too). But sometimes, I just enjoy the time to myself (as someone above mentioned).

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  22. I have been trying, in those sorts of situations, to tell myself things like: "They're probably envying my ability to be comfortable enough in my own skin to go out in public looking like this ... maybe they have to deal with constant criticisms from others that makes them feel they always have to look perfect ... maybe their own inner critic won't ever shut up long enough to let them just wear sweats in public ... maybe they are wishing they could let their child dress with the same flair my child has, but they are too constricted by public opinion."

    Because when I stand in the corner and eye other mothers, I'm thinking those sort of thoughts about them, not the judgmental ones, and I wonder (hope) if they feel the same.

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  23. This is the truth if I've ever read it, Steph. Mom interactions/relationships are so weird when really we're probably all feeling/thinking the same things.

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  24. OH, Steph! I completely relate. This summer, I was picking my girls up from Vacation Bible School going past this group of just came from the gym and I look awesome moms. You know the ones that look awesome with "messy" hair pulled back with a headband over a ponytail. I can never seem to get that messy look right. And I totally thought, Yeah, like you even want to LOOK at this frumpy frazzled mama.
    You aren't the only one with issues.

    Gianna
    www.sweetpeasandbuddies.com
    gianna(dot)kordatzky(at)gmail(dot)com

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