Early on last week I made a random comment to Seth about how happy I was that our kids weren’t old enough to get birthday party invites from their friends at school. I said something along the lines of, “how awkward is that going to be?” Seth agreed and we laughed jolly, hearty laughs like the careless parents we thought we were.
Cut to, like, six days later when Seth and the boys came bursting through the door, everyone as happy as could be. Seth held up an envelope in his hand. “I got something for you here, Mama!” Before he could say anything else he was pulling out a Paw Patrol birthday party invite and Matty was snatching it away from him.
“What? No! Who is that from??”
“Paw Patrol, Mama!”
“I know, buddy, that’s cool! So, who is it from?”
“Um, I think it was Isaac or something like that?”
“Isaac? I don’t even know who that is.”
“Yeah, I have no idea.”
“Ugh, I thought we had years until we had to deal with this.”
Later while the kids ate their suppers and watched their Friday night movie, Seth and I talked in the kitchen.
“Like, I don’t want to go to that?”
“Well, I think this is, like, a mom thing – a mom and Matty thing.”
“What? No way. If I have to go, you’re going too.”
“I can’t. I have to stay with Abbott. Matty was invited, not Abbott.”
“Nice try. But that’s good point – what does this mean? Can only one of us go? How do these things work?”
“Babe. I have no idea. It’s a mom thing, though, for sure.”
These are the sorts of parenting things I’m not going to be good at. Nothing sounds like a worse time to me than going to a stranger’s house as my 2-year olds +1 with a bunch of hoitytoity perfect moms, celebrating a child I couldn’t even pick out of the crowd. I mean, I already feel a little out of my league when I pick my kids up everyday amongst the sea of professional, perfectly-tailored and polished Stepford moms. Moms who probably don’t drink or swear or own microwaves. The type of moms whose mere presence makes you paranoid that you have food in your hair or your shirt on inside out or some weird shit in your teeth – and then your kids runs up in bright pink polka dotted pants because you’ve forgotten to bring him spare clothes for like the third week in a row and the jig is up whether there’s food in your hair or not. You know? They’re those moms. The ones who were born for the schmoozing at the birthday parties and in the school hallways and at the PTA meetings. The ones who turn up their noses ever so slightly at the sight of sweats or tangled hair. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not all like that (and, as we all know, this is really just a reflection of my own momming insecurities – fuck me) – but 91% of them are and that doesn’t make my odds for succeeding at these sorts of things very good.
I imagine the birthday party going something like this:
Arrive at the birthday party Matty hasn’t stopped talking about for weeks only to get out of the car with a stage-five clinger hanging on to my leg like a baby Spider Monkey who’s climbed too high and can’t get down (Planet Earth II reference). We’ll cling to each other in the corner of the yard like creeps until the combination of Matty’s defiant whining and my anxiety causes me to start sweating profusely, at which point something exciting and fun will catch Matty’s eye and he will morph into a social butterfly – leaving me sweating in the corner of the yard. At this point, I will probably have to pee but I’ll for sure be too worried about what it would look like if I left my kid alone with a bunch of random parents and other kids to even fathom the idea of asking where the toilet is. And then, because I get headaches every time I hold it in since having the boys, I’ll get a headache.
I’ll then try to act as though I don’t have to pee or have a headache and awkwardly inch myself towards another mom who looks remotely as awkward as I feel and try to make small talk by mentioning the weather or, knowing me, just blatantly expressing how terrible this situation is. Trying to be a Stepford mom herself, she’ll want to distance herself from me immediately and she’ll politely act as though she just saw her kid fall or get hit by another kid and dart. Then, I’ll probably just stand there and smile animatedly at the hoards of children as they run around pushing and swinging sticks at each other. All of the other parents will do the same thing hoping their kid isn’t that one kid every other parent hates because s/he is just a little too rough or the first one who throws a tantrum over cake or candy or presents that doesn’t belong to them. Then, just as fast the party started it will end. I will leave emotionally spent with a couple good stories and Matty will leave filled with sugar and some better friendships.
After Seth and I’s talk, I walked into the living room to see Matty sitting at his picnic table, pizza slice in one hand, invite in the other. These are the sorts of things I didn’t think about when we were swept up in the fun of pregnancy and the madness of two under two, but this is the stage we’re heading in to and while I’m not ready, Matty definitely is.
QUEUE ALL THE TEARS.