I sat hand in hand with my husband at our first Early Learning Open House, and I surveyed the room. I cast furtive glances at the mothers and couples in the room, making mental notes about which ones I knew and which ones I would know soon. There we were, moms and dads of Pre-K, TK, and Kindergarten kiddos, all captive to the superintendent and director of the Early Learning division of our private school. I had to nearly pinch myself for finally being at an open house for my own child. As a teacher I have been to 10 open houses, but this one felt uniquely different. This time all of the introductions and information was about my son and my role as a parent.
I was joining The Real Room Moms of Early Learning and wondered just where I would fit in.
As the introduction came to a close, all of us parents made our way to the classrooms. As we walked, I observed the multiple types of moms who were all marching to their children’s new classrooms. I saw Professional Mom in her classy office attire, Hot Country Club Mom in her sassy designer duds, Teacher Mom in her business casual look (uh, that would be me), and Fitness Mom in her workout gear. (Please note that these monikers are for distinguishing purposes only, of course I know that we are all more than our outward appearance.)
As much as I would like to say that I eagerly anticipated any and all of these women to be going to the same class I was headed to, that was not the case. I mentally pointed out all the Hot Country Club Moms and silently wished they were ambling to another destination. Because here’s the thing, deep in my heart I am a feminist, cheering on all the mamas out there making it work, rallying for all women to be who they are. But still residing in me is the place that houses my insecurities and judgment, so I compare and assume.
So, as the herd of us meandered to our rooms, I did just those things. I compared myself to the Hot Country Club Mom with the designer duds, styled hair, and perfect makeup. I assumed that her life mirrored her appearance, and this snapshot was just one in a long Instagram feed of perfection. I compared myself to Fitness Mom and her well defined muscles. I assumed she had it all together and that her pantry was full of whole and healthy foods. I compared myself to Professional Mom and her financial success that I imagined. I assumed she was highly skilled and super confident with any task put before her. I created fictional narratives and then measured myself by those standards. Not cool of me, Ladies, not cool.
As we entered my son’s new class, sure enough, several Hot Moms rolled in. I smiled and found my little boy’s name on his big round desk. As his precious teacher began her presentation, I drifted off into my ridiculous mental reality show. It was like a roll call of the Real Housewives in my mind. I imagined petty arguments, huffy sighs, and dramatic eyerolls over issues like snacks and room mom duties and field trips.
While the presentation continued, my attention shifted to the information folder and all of the new knowledge the teacher was showering on us. My thoughts departed from the “Real Room Moms” show and instead landed on my oldest son and his new experiences in a real classroom. I focused on him and how his year would go. What would be his favorite time of the school day? How would he adjust to the formal schedule? Would he make good friends? Would he learn at a quick pace?
And just like that, the comparisons and assumptions dissolved.
My eyes opened, and I really saw the women in the room. All of us, mamas and stepmamas, were there for one reason. We loved our children. We wanted them to have a stellar experience and receive a great foundation for their education. We earnestly desired for them to feel loved and prized by their teachers and accepted by their peers. It was our children that united us in a common bond, no matter our appearances or lifestyles. I suddenly felt a rush of love for these women and wanted to hug each of them. Don’t worry, I didn’t, but I kind of wanted to.
My silly insecurities and assumptions were totally baseless and worthless. I was not going to allow them to keep me from enjoying this great year of meeting new women and new families. Because at the heart of this journey we call motherhood is the love for our babies and the empathy we have to have for one another. Let our “reality show” be one of understanding not arguing, cooperation not competition. Let us all love more and judge less, and for goodness sake, no comparisons!