The end of my children's school year is quickly approaching, which means I can no longer ignore my PTA duties as the final activities pop up. I actually don't mind volunteering at their school, thanks to it being a smaller school it feels like one big family there. Also, I'm totally one of those moms who likes to know who my children's friends are to make sure I actually know who they are talking about when they tell these crazy stories. But there are other aspects to volunteering that I actually hate.
When it comes to spending that time with other parents, specifically mothers, well that part makes me freak out.
There are a lot of reasons why but mainly I'm just a really awkward person in real life. Ask me what my favorite color is and I'll answer spaghetti. Maybe that's why I still have the same best friend since high school?. . . It also doesn't help that I feel like a complete outcast because I'm in my 20s still, whereas, these parents are in their 30s and 40s. Let me tell you, these mothers ALWAYS look beautiful and well put together meanwhile I show up to volunteer in a hoodie and sneakers, "let's serve some ice cream today!" And I'm not trying to be hateful towards these women, I am simply applauding how beautiful they are every time I see them and wish I could look decent at least once.
To say that I've always struggled to make "mom friends" would be an understatement.
If I'm being honest, I can call maybe TWO of these parents somewhat friends.
My mind has always seen myself on a completely different radar than these other parents. My impression was always of these parents completely having their life together. They seemed to be happy in their careers or being a house wife, and talk easily about all the sports their children play. Then there was me, already having a midlife crisis at 27, no idea what makes me who I am let alone what career is my future, and sure my kids could play softball also, but it would be more of a financial struggle for us. Outside of our age difference there were always a lot of factors that made me feel like an outsider and not want any of these parents as friends.
Things were different this past month, though.
I've gotten to the point in my life where I'm a lot more confident than I've ever been.. So, when I went to volunteer this past month I left behind the pressure of being anything but me behind. I stopped pretending that I had my shit together. Matter of fact I had time to take a quick shower beforehand and didn't even worry about putting on make-up or doing my hair.
Here's what happened.. I started to realize that I was the only parent here judging other parents. They didn't seem to mind that I was completely awkward or that my hair was still wet when theirs was perfectly curled. I actually got to know these parents and connect with them. Behind their perfect outfits, they turned out to be more like me than I ever thought was possible. We laughed about things our children came home telling us that week and how we all hoped that our significant others remembered to help the kids with their homework.
I think we all put way too much pressure on ourselves as parents, especially when it comes to comparing our lives to others. We all struggle because there really isn't a "right" way to raise children, right? I saw how wrong I was to judge these parents just by the way they looked or casually spoke to one another. I should've taken my time to have real conversations with them instead of pushing myself away. It's nice to be able to have these "mom friends" to laugh with every now and then because we all kind of feel alone at times. Are they the first people I would call when I need to let my frustrations out? Probably not. But they are friends I can smile with when it comes to bonding over our children at school. That pressure I put on myself is gone, and it's nice to wave to these parents without my stupid judgement for them at work.
I know it's hard to look past those parents who seem so better off than you might be. But it's so much better to have an open mind when it comes to getting along with other parents at our children's school. Try to look past everything you see on the surface and hope there's more underneath it all. I think you'll be happily surprised like myself. And if you're lucky then you'll be able to find a few parents who make you feel a little less alone, even if it's for one evening sitting in the school library.