Depth of Field





The clouds recede as we enter the park and Archer quickly hides between my legs and covers his ears at first sight of playing children. After several moments in a ball at my feet, he untangles himself from my shoelace and takes my hand. We walk together toward the jungle gym and every few seconds Archer looks back over his shoulder to make sure we aren't being followed.
We wander through the playground, toward the outskirts. Where the fences separate grassy hills from paved streets. Away from the other children. And other people. Until we are alone.

Every time we take a trip to the park, to make an effort to socialize we end up failing each other.

Some children don't fit in.I didn't. Neither did my brother or my sister or my parents when they were little people. And Archer is certainly different from other children. Some children don't fit in. Some parents don't fit in, either.

I follow Archer out of the playground and to the shady place behind the tree and I watch events unfold from a distance. Archer does too. We sit and we watch and Archer babbles (in his own language that I am slowly learning to understand) and I babble back and feel invisible. In a good way. In a bad way. Invisible. I look out at the mothers, folded neatly beside each other on wooden benches, watching their children throw sand and climb the monkey bars. Archer watches the children run around him in circles and he pulls his fingers from mine and puts his hands over his eyes. He is hiding. I understand.

The other day, when Archer and I crashed a Mommy & Me Holiday Party at the gym, I had a panic attack. Who has a panic attack at a Mommy & Me Holiday Party? I did. Major. I hated it in there. I couldn't breathe with all those Percocet-tweaked voices singing ROWROWROOOOWYOURBOAT with glazed eyes and French manicures, their children bumping into one another, all dressed in the same Gap kids hoodies. In the same Ladybug Robeez. In the sameeverythingsamesamesame.

I started to shake, and pretty soon I couldn't breathe. Archer turned around in my lap to face me. His eyes went wide before jumping out of my lap and running to the glass window, banging and scratching and flapping his arms like a caged bird.

We left immediately, tripping over crossed legs and hand puppets on our way out the door. I caught my breath in the hallway and we quickly made our way to the car where I gathered myself and drove home.

I only get anxiety attacks when I feel claustrophobic. In a stalled subway or an old elevator. In a controlling relationship. In an argument I cannot win. In a depression I cannot escape, but in that room at the gym, surrounded by homemade Christmas cookies and Mommies and Daddies and Nannies and songs about spiders down the spout I felt lost. And alone. And trapped. Like I was going to have a heart attack and die and everyone would know that my final moment in life was sitting in a stupid room singing that stupid fucking song about the spider who's livelihood depends on being washed down the drain, drying off and climbing back up the spout. And for what? Why? Doesn't he know? Down will come the rain to wash the spider out! It doesn't change. It's always the same story. Why does he keep coming back for more?

"I do not want to be like that. Like her... Or the spider. Or the Gap sweatshirt with its zillions of Gap sweatshirt brothers and sisters" I think to myself. Because it's scary. How suddenly everyone shares a brain. Becomes the same.

Repeat after me! And no one even knows what they are saying. Or singing. And everyone's faces start to look the same.

Sometimes when I look at something or someone, all I can see is what surrounds them. All I can see is the grass and the sand and the playground. Their faces have blurred and blended and I cannot focus on their features. My depth of field is off. Maybe Archer's is too. Maybe he inherited my inability to sit neatly on a bench or play quietly with the other boys and girls. Maybe he just wants to watch. And think. Maybe he doesn't want to talk to anyone. Maybe he speaks his own language because he enjoys being in his own world. And so do I. Even if people hate me for it.

"Earth to Rebecca. Come in, Rebecca."

"Earth to Archer. Archer? ARCHHHEEEER?"

"It might be hard for a boy like that to make friends," people tell me.

It might be hard for a girl like me to make friends, too. REAL friends. The kind with flesh and blood and hair who do not disappear or blur or get lost.

If Archer would rather play in the corner and talk to the wall, I cannot blame him, or turn him toward the children. I too feel more myself in the corner sometimes. And seriously? When no one's looking? I'm talking to the wall, too.

"He's special."

"He's different."

"...Not like other children."

And why should he be? Why should any of us want that of our little ones? Of ourselves? How is that one suddenly becomes a mother and has to trade it all in? Or even worse, hide the fact that she has?

"I need a drink," I hear them say. As if to convince themselves they are still wild. Buttoned up to the neck. Pour a stiff one. I've got kids. Mamma needs a Martini. Or a Mai Tai. Or something to take the edge off. But there is no edge. The edge has been sanded down and remains a smooth curve, polished and covered up with floral wallpaper from Bed, Bath and Beyond.

How about a mind? How about REAL thoughts? How about knowing something else beside the lyrics to Wheels on the Bus? How about redefining what it is to be a mother? What it is to be a woman? What it is to be?

To be or not to be in the back of the bus, that is the question. To be or not to be in a fold-out chair in the sand with a cold beer and a stack of gossip magazines Because I just don't have time to read a real book right now. What does it mean to be social? As a parent? As a child? What does it mean to be a misfit? A loner? "Special"?

Every day I look at Archer and am able to better understand myself. And I wonder if perhaps his idiosyncrasies are as much my own. His hyper- sensitivity to his surroundings. His apprehension. The way he hides when he is unable to respond.

Because sometimes when I look at Archer I see my own lost truths, bold as the stripes in his eyes.

When we left the park today, I had barely said a word to anybody. A few mumbles to Archer in his language. A couple of head nods, a smile, and that was all. The clouds had gone and the sun was out and Archer grabbed for my sunglasses to put them over his eyes.

And when I finally got the car packed up and started the engine, I pulled the visor shade down to block the sun. And the mirror was open and there I was, my face completely out of focus. My eyes and nose blurred, my mouth smeared across my chin.

Maybe it was the sun in my eyes or the fact that I left my glasses at home, but suddenly, there I wasn't.

The clouds return as we pull out of the parking lot and I feel for my face to make sure everything's still there- that I haven't gone crazy. After several moments of adjusting the visor mirror, I refocus and start to recognize myself again. But just in case, I look back over my shoulder to make sure we aren't being followed.

And we drive through the back streets toward home. Where iron gates separate unmanaged yards from managed ones. Away from the other children. And other people. Until we are alone.

GGC

54 comments:

Joker The Lurcher | 1:42 AM

oh you are not alone! i have been there too. in the uk there is a different set of requirements (Barbour jacket, Volvo, spaniel or variations on this according to class and where you live) to be one of the "perfect mummies" but it is an all too familiar tune.

my son never managed to play with other kids as a little one and i had so little confidence in my mothering abilities that i got just the same panics as you describe when out with those perfect mummies.

i had to go back to work when my son was 10 weeks which meant i didn't really ever get into those circles (and thank heavens looking at it from my life now!). there is something totally tribal about those women, exclusive and excluding, even though they don't mean to be. maybe they need to justify themselves or something.

my son is now 12 and is perfectly wonderful. what was the making of us as a family was meeting other families with special kids and learning to value and enjoy our differences and quirks.
so many of my son's traits are very obvious in me and in his dad too.

my sister says it would not have been possible to have invented a better kid for me than my son. never a wiser word was spoken. and maybe the same is true for you and Archer? after all you have the perfect excuse not to waste your time with the "perfect mummies" - "sorry, my son finds all this rather banal - we are off to invent a facial hologram, for use in those tricky moments of blurriness..."

Joker The Lurcher | 1:47 AM

ps:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jokerthelurcher/24288786/

Lux Lisbon | 4:40 AM

There's nothing like hearing your 4 & 8 year old daughters sing along with Thom Yorke "this is what you'll get....if you messsss with us." or Regina Spektor "long live the king, long live the king" from her car seat while you cruise around downtown. It makes my heart swell with joy.

Wendy | 5:38 AM

Okay maybe I just have this book in my head but you MUST read Little Children by Tom Perrotta - I just finished it - you will totally appreciate it - the feeling that you are placed among a species you cannot understand at all (the book's protagonist begins at a playground with her daughter and she is so clearly not like these women, she feels like an alien)...I have panic attacks at the park too, Bec - I just am not like a lot of the moms I meet and I don't want to be - not that there is anything "wrong" with them, per se - but I have always been different and now my son is different too - you're not alone babe

Anonymous | 6:35 AM

Oh Rebecca. I am so there. I am so in agreement with you. I feel like I spend my days surrounded by super-people & i'm almost convinced now that i'll never measure up.

Molly Chase | 7:00 AM

Oh wow. "Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect-Life" by...I can't think of her name now. A lot of what she wrote seems judgemental and elitist and whiny to me, but she described feeling the exact same way at the playground with her boys, and that, and some of the other things she said, really rang true to me.

Anonymous | 7:03 AM

I can relate. I always wondered why I never fit in with the other mothers when my kids were pre-schoolers. I thought I was just "different", that I had somehow missed the gene necessary to fit into a homogenous mommy persona. I remember taking my oldest son to school and the other mothers were talking excitedly about getting together for play dates, coffee, etc. and I was thinking "please don't ask me, please don't ask me". The same thing every day.... Don't notice me because I cannot be part of your world because it is just so frigging stupid. Stupid to me, anyhow. Through years of sports with three sons, I always separated myself from the other parents. I just felt more comfortable being alone. Very comfortable in fact. Or perhaps frightened that I would get swallowed up by them and become a pod parent.

surviving motherhood | 7:39 AM

you know, I recently had some one say to me 'Whats wrong with being just a mum, why do you want to be something else as well?'

Ummm, I think if you need to explain it there's very little point in bothering.

Mom101 | 8:06 AM

THis is so beautiful and honest, Rebecca. I definitely know what it's like to feel on the outside, or worse, like an outsider on the inside. I think Archer is definitely special but not in the way it's come to mean. In the real way. The first way. Just...special. He'll find his groove. Geez, the kid's only a toddler. People need to give him a break.

whoorl | 8:29 AM

If "different" means being so truthful and undisguised, we should all strive for that description.

Both you and Archer are beautiful, exceptional people.

Emily | 8:43 AM

Your honest words get me every time. Amazing post. I love that it takes a toddler to make us to so inward. It takes a child to make us reflect on the deepest parts of our lives. I know my daughter makes me look at every aspect of my self differently. Archer is lucky to have a mother who is willing to tackle such important issues in his life. He is a great kid, and will be stronger for it.

krista | 8:46 AM

Thanks for this today.

Rebecca, you know Aidan a little, from his site, and from me talking about him a little, but I don't talk about my fears usually. My fears of how he is a loner.

Yesterday he told me when he grows up he wants to be a hermit. He isn't interested in making friends or playing with other kids. He is very different from the kids in his class. Different interests, different thoughts, different ways of "playing"

After a long conversation with Chris last night where I poured all my fears about this, today I come to your site to read this, and it makes me smile.

I am still worried about my own independent genius misunderstood child, but it feels good to know that at least we are in good company.

foodiemama | 8:48 AM

let me tell you that gus is definitley one who doesn't "fit in". he is absolutley terrified of children his age...i'd say until they are about 5 he hides in utter fear. i know he is shy and i love it cause he and his father are the same way...it fits with us. i've never seen a toddler his age shy away so much. i've gotten used to being alone in my play with him...i also had to stop hanging out with some friends with kids his age cause it was just too panic inducing for me and stressful for him.
who knows, maybe archer and gus would hit it off, haha given their similarity!

Martina | 9:08 AM

My 2 boys are very outgoing at the playground and I pick the bench furthest away from the mommies. It's ironic how I complain I don't have any 'mommy-friends,' yet do everything in my power to avoid making them.

Great post! This is something I will think on for a while.

K | 9:39 AM

I think one of the hardest things about parenting is when your kids aren't like you.

But even harder is when they are...

I'm not sure about Q -- on most days, she surprises me. Riding on the carousel alone without me, trying to engage in play with other kids, and then sitting in a corner reading for hours.

I see just a bit of me in her, but I try, as best I can, to just see her for who she is -- and not who I think she should be or who anyone else thinks she should be.

He'll find his place, wherever it may be -- and from the sounds of it, you'll be right there supporting him.

That's what matters most -- in my humble opinion.

something blue | 9:55 AM

I think sometimes it is easier to put those Gap kids hoodies on my children and head out the door. Because if others only see the outer shell, they won't know that I'm feeling a lot like you on the inside.

However we rarely made it to any group activity because even in our disguise, it was still hard.

Rock the Cradle | 10:52 AM

Your questions are mine, too.

"What does it mean to be social?..."

And how can I teach my kid to be "social" without simultaneously teaching her rules and attitudes and behavior that are just not acceptable?
The playground isn't social, it's a battleground.

Sometimes it seems as if some mothers are content to let Darwin do the work, a la survival of the rudest, instead of taking the time to show their kids how to be truly social.

Parenting other peoples children is something I absolutely WILL do. If they are not doing the job, I am bloody well going to make sure their little bundles of hyperactive Rambos-to-be don't railroad the Impling.

But honestly, I don't have that much energy left over. And those times it's just easier to go somewhere else. Lacking people.

Big hugs to you and Archer. Wish we could go watch a sunset together or something.

LB | 12:58 PM

Your words perfectly illustrate how I feel so often on these subjects, and in general.

MotherBumper | 1:30 PM

I thought I was alone with these thoughts, thanks for getting them out for me GGC. We have a different configuration, Bumper is outgoing and I'm the one who hangs behind and remains silent. I pray that she doesn't feel suppressed just because momma is awkward, I want to her to be right out there. But she does march to her own drummer and sometimes it hurts me to see her be rejected (over and over again) because she has no fear. I'm lost to help her since I can barely make rudimentary conversations with the other parents. I'm not sure where I'm going with this but I just wanted you to know that your magical words made me feel - not alone.

Christina | 1:53 PM

I was the kid who always wanted to fit in, but no matter how I tried, I didn't fit in at all and spent much of my time alone.

Cordy is, so far, the kid who is "different" and wants nothing at all to do with other kids. It's like they're invisible to her and she doesn't even know they exist.

As a result, I've given up trying to fit in with the perfect mommies, especially after being told now that not only do I not fit in, my daughter doesn't either. Luckily, she doesn't care that she's different. As for me, well, it's taken some adjusting.

Thanks for this post. It gave me a lot to think about on this quiet, rainy day.

toyfoto | 2:29 PM

This reminds me of Jon Carroll's column today about winter. It's truely beautiful. And it makes me breathe a little easier, too. Because Annabel is a lot like Archer and I am a little like Annabel, and often I feel the weight of the world closing in.

Kelly | 3:06 PM

Enjoyed this post. Thanks.

Karen | 3:36 PM

My husband I are two highly sensitive people who got together and reproduced three times, creating a family of 5 highly sensitive people with varying degrees of intro/extrovertedness. Our whole show here is an oddity, but we love them and each other. I have found a few treasured friends -some where I relish in our similarities and others where I giggle in stupefication at our differences. I remember thinking I might actually die of my first son's first playgroup - that was just about that last one we went to, I just couldn't engage in one more conversation about which playscape matched the landscaping better. My whole world got better when I realized that I wasn't in pain because they didn't like me, I was in pain because I didn't and couldn't like them.
In anycase, my world is full enough for me and for those in my care, and it sounds like you and Archer have a very full world yourselves. Enjoy!

PunditMom | 4:38 PM

Thank you for making me feel like I am not alone. Somehow I have mastered the ability to become a different Joanne when we are in those settings, but I always feel how fake I am being and wait to be uncovered as the fraud that I am.

It's always been hard for me to socialize with the "mommies" at the playground or Gymboree or school. My high school days of the outcast come rushing back -- not pretty enough, not witty enough.

People tell me I'm "approachable," but inside I know I'm faking it and just want to run home and be there with R., doing our own playing and reading and leaving the others outside.

Thanks so much for sharing this. I feel less alone in my anti-social feelings.

Anonymous | 4:38 PM

my 12 year old daughter is desperate to fit in, my 10 year old son could care less. my three year old is shy but wants the other girls to like her. I was/am somewhere in the middle. I want the invitation even though i dont really want to go. I dont fit in with the moms in the school yard in our town where i rent and everyone else owns and my kids share a room and repeat clothes from one week to the next. my kids fight. they don't always behave.the other mom's lives seem perfect and they act like their children are too. i crave companionship but not with anyone i meet around here. where are the real people? people who can't cook and don't think that discussing lastnight's beef straganoff is fascinating. at a friend's party there was a mom who was upset that she forgot the crayons and i made a joke about how it's probably better that we don't leave 3 three year olds alone on a white carpet with crayons and she snottily said "oh my daughter knows to stay on paper i thought they all did" yeah they do that's why it's a fucking JOKE. a stupid remark that i am not even going to defend. i walked away without explaining that my daughter does know how to color on paper and has never drawn on walls or carpets. because it doesn't matter whether she does or not. that woman is still going to be an asshole. i kinda wish you lived closer so we could go to the park together. and watch our kids not play together. ~jjlibra

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 4:56 PM

After reading all of your comments, I wonder... How many of us are faking it on the "playground?" Maybe we all have more in common than we think.

tallgirl | 5:31 PM

I agree GGC. I have a friend who is totally into her kids and their stuff and what they are doing that it makes my head spin. She tries and tries and tries to please and please and please but ends up being a huge stress bucket. She is tightly scheduled where peanut and I like to hang out and chew on books (a big no-no at her house). I keep thinking if she relaxed, she might find peace.

I am different from you in that I am the outgoing one and so is my peanut. But, my outgoing means searching out mothers like you who i think it would be cool to hang out with. I give them my card or my phone number hoping and praying that they call so i can make a connection. When they don't, and most don't, I get that awkward tallgirl feeling again.

I guess we can't change who we are. Archer is lucky that you understand him.

Leigh C. | 5:38 PM

The "Dispatches From A Not-So-Perfect Life" is by "Salon" writer Faulkner Fox, and although her book was one of a few that made me swear off mommy-lit because it was just too painful and close to the bone, her book is good and occasionally funny, especially when she chronicles experiences with her kids as they get older.

Rebecca, it was tough for me, and others like me, to admit to feeling so out of it because, well, I felt so out of it that I really didn't think others shared my experience. New motherhood is a major shock to the system. I think I am only now beginning to emerge from my funk, and the little guy is four! Maybe long-term studies need to be done of PTMD (post-traumatic motherhood disorder).

And I've said it before on someone else's comments, but there needs to be a radical change in how we think about people who are less than confident as moms or who have major PPD or the like. There may be some deep seated fear that if we admit that we are feeling less than nurturing, it will make us bad moms. Our silence feeds that fear.

Glad you are posting things that break that silence - and that do it so well.

Birdsword | 7:10 PM

we are all just one gap hoodie away from faking it. My kids love the spider song b.c. I loved it as a kid. They also love to dance to Hazel Atkins...

Anonymous | 7:31 PM

spoon me.
xobmc

Priya | 9:36 AM

Okay. I could have written that piece, but you did it so much better than I ever could. That is exactly how I feel. I am the exact same way around mommy & me groups. I get inarticulate. My son Nikhil is like Archer. He is now 2.5, and has only just started saying words that others can understand. He has his own language too, and up until a couple months ago, was always in the periphery of groups. The other children would interact, socialize, fight, etc. but Nik would rather play by himself, apart, looking at pebbles, leaves of grass, avoiding the slide, but fascinated by it, wanting to play in the water, no matter how muddy, dirty... I always felt like that too, growing up, and I still do. I am an outsider, trying to fit in, pretending to like the same things so that Nik can have friends. I totally get you. I wish we lived closer, maybe Archer and Nik would be friends, in a distant way! :)

Stefanie | 3:02 PM

You know, before Sippy Cups came out, I obsessed and obsessed that I would feel more alienated and alone for sharing on the page the sometimes harsh, sometimes very different views I had on parenting. My chapter on going to Mommy and Me definitely offended a few people I guess, but for the most part I was shocked at how many people wrote that they could relate. Yet, the ones I meet everday at the park, in the neighborhood etc. seem to be exactly the ones I would never be friends with. I don't know where all these like minded women are hiding. Or maybe that's just it.

Regardless, that was a beautiful piece of writing and you need to have it published. Get it off your blog and submitted to the NYT riht now.

Country Mouse | 8:07 PM

You just made me feel a little less alone. You just made me feel a little less like a neglectful mama for never joining a Mommy and Me or anything of the sort with my boy.

Thank you.

mo-wo | 10:38 PM

I'll count myself grateful that I do not recognize your playground. I guess I have visited a couple destination playgrounds on occassion but my regular diet is of a community of lively and loving neighbours.. the old and the young. I resolved not to move from this neighbourhood last month because this is so precious.

Maybe it is from here I have the nerve to ask... tho' ... is it? to reinvent motherhood? really?? or is it more simply to reject the unhealthy iterations. The persistent claim that family life square, backward and contemptable is sort of a self fulfilling prophecy; to lack a better analogy.

Anonymous | 8:27 AM

Wow, have I been there. I don't fit in anywhere. I have never been a good group person. I'm usually good with that, but something about the culture of mommyhood....well, it makes one have panic attacks. Sometimes I just want to be fully a mama who is fully a woman with thoughts outside of the 'wheels on the bus'.
Thank God for the one mommy friend I have. I might just die otherwise.

Nicole R. | 10:32 AM

Gap sweatshirts, gossip magazines, and knowing all the lyrics to "The Wheels on the Bus" don't preclude my having a mind or thinking real thoughts.

I hope!

We're starting our first Kindergym classes next week. I hope there are kids like Archer -- and parents like you -- there.

Jenn | 12:25 PM

This is the first time in more than two months that I've been able to log in. YAY! Happy New Year to me!

Although I'm not prone to panic attacks except in Wal-Mart, I do relate to this. Mine stems primarily because I don't fit in with other moms (I assume they're judging me and usually they are so I judge right back and decide to have nothing to do with the likes of those bitches)and my daughters is because she's too smart, wonderful and mature for other 8 year olds. She actually cried in my arms about it this week. She said she feels invisible at school.
That is who we are: invisible, except to one another. And so that's where we find our comfort.
Well, that and the internet.

Sara | 4:32 PM

Beautifully written and clearly deeply felt. I have to wonder, though, as a previous poster or two suggested, whether we might all be feeling various degrees of alienation. Whether lots of us might be sitting there with our children with deeper thoughts in our heads than the lyrics to "wheels on the bus". Whether the moms that seem shallow or self-absorbed might have thoughts in their heads and goals in their lives that are deeper than small talk at play-group might suggest. I wonder at women's (mothers') need to judge and categorize each other....I wish we could get beyond that.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 7:09 PM

I think you're totally right, and I for one am just as guilty as the next person for categorizing. Judgement is never positive. Thanks for your insight(s)...

jen | 8:29 PM

what a tremendous post. and i think from the reaction it's getting, many feel the same way.

bravo, sister. bravo.

and on the one off chance I am ever around other people with kids, good god, i feel something very similar to what you wrote.

jen | 8:29 PM

what a tremendous post. and i think from the reaction it's getting, many feel the same way.

bravo, sister. bravo.

and on the one off chance I am ever around other people with kids, good god, i feel something very similar to what you wrote.

the weirdgirl | 11:25 PM

I test as extremely extroverted on every psych test I've ever taken and yet I don't always feel the need to talk in potential social settings. (And I definitely haven't always and don't feel a need to fit in.) Sometimes I really just want to hang back and people-watch, and that includes the other moms at the playground. At the same time because I AM extroverted I will talk to random strangers regardless of where I am. People either respond (some very enthusiastically) or they look at you like you're a nut job for speaking. I don't worry about the snobby ones. And the ones who respond? A LOT of them, I suspect, really love that someone is initiating conversation (even if it's completely random conversation) and I've found some really cool, non-pod parents in odd places. Like the young man punk at Hot Topic (and yes, I feel my out-of-place AGE when I go in there!) who helped me look at shirts and turned out to be the father of a five-year-old as we bonded over the ridiculously cute shirt of teddy bears playing electric guitar. Even if those moments of contact are fleeting I still cherish them.

There are more of us out there, than there are of them!

Fairly Odd Mother | 5:09 AM

I hear what you are saying (and as always, you say it in such a beautiful way) but please don't assume that all of us who sing 'Wheels on the Bus' are clones/drones with no individuality or spark. Some of us can take our kids to a Wiggles concert and then a Dropkick Murphys show too.

My oldest is a social butterfly and has been from a young age. Good God, if one more person asks me to set up a playdate with her, I'll need another calendar. I assumed that because I like being 'out and about', that was how my kids would be. But, my younger two are very different from their big sister. Noises, people in costumes, bright lights, crowds---all things my oldest loves---freak them out.

One thing I find myself doing, that I want to change though, is I label. My oldest is the 'outgoing one', my middle is 'shy, unable to sit still, goofy', etc. I wonder how much these labels define them before they have a chance to define themselves. Applied to your post, does Archer get the message that being away from the 'masses' is a good thing, one that makes mommy happy, so that is the way he wants to be? Or, is that just the way he is wired? Kind of a chicken/egg question.

Kell | 5:58 AM

Wow, what a post Bec.
I know how you feel, deep down I feel like that too sometimes at groups but I always put on an act. My kids have always been ones the 'fit in', its me that sometimes doesnt. I have an alter-ego that can chat along to other mums about total crap unless its spiteful gossip , then I walk away.
Im lucky enough to live in a small town with life long friends that have children too but the other day 3 of us went to the weekly mums and toddlers group and I left after 10 mins. I suddenly felt smothered, like I didn't want to be there and it was because I din't have sylvie with me. I only had Sonny and I made my excuse and left anf felt a huge weight off my shoulders. I apologied to my friends for running out on them.
All children are different and special.

kittenpie | 8:40 AM

It's funny, I'm the reticent one in our pair, while pumpkinpie naturally sucks people in to her orbit once she gets used to her surroundings.

But the songs and all that? That's my job, so I don't find them weird! I've always been around young kids, so it's always been part of my language, I guess.

barbara rushkoff | 4:45 PM

You know what Rebecca? You don't have to fit in. That is the beauty of being a mother, a person, a rea human being. You're figuring this thing out for yourself, for Archer. This is like, the most positive thing I've read on motherhood in a long time. I know that sounds weird, but you know yourself, you know your kid. And that confidence and knowing is going to attract people TO YOU, not you TO THEM. That's why you're having a hard time, -- bec you're not faking it. (But that is a good thing.) Damn, I wish you guys could come over!

Kristen | 1:41 PM

I love this. I love how as our kids grow, even the things that feel painful to us (wondering if they'll be alone, wondering if their social lives will cause them to be hurt, etc.) remind us that they come from us, that we are the same in profound and intangible ways.

Hannah | 4:11 PM

I love this post, too. As a child, I was also very introverted. I would stand back from the crowd with my mom and stare and probably even make fun of the other kids, laughing at their choice of clothes and silly hair. My mother used to try to make me get involved, but I never wanted to. That story of Archer reminded me of myself. I was once at a birthday party where there were clowns (scary) and I made a run for the door, screaming and clawing at it, trying to escape the clown that wanted to make me a balloon animal and the other kids pushing birthday cake in my face. I always thought that I was antisocial because I was an only child like Archer, but now I see through these comments and your post that I am not alone. I am now in my twenties and am still happy being alone and standing on the edge of the crowd, not the middle. Your little guy seems introspective and comfortable doing what he is happy doing, and I hope that he will retain that valuable trait throughout his life.

Anonymous | 7:22 AM

I just told my husband last night "Why do I feel like an alien when I drop my son off at preschool?". I have always been outgoing, talkative, social, life of the party, etc. But I feel like I can't relate to a SINGLE person there. That can't be right, someone has to be like me, but I look at them all showing up in their minivans (not that there is anything wrong with that!) and their soccer stickers and their PTA badges and I feel sick. It seems like I have almost fought motherhood and the "rules" of being a parent and which stroller to buy, clothes, schools, etc. Did it from the beginning and still do it now. Why do I fight it so?? Why can't I get rid of my car that really isn't very convenient for my family and just bite the bullet and buy one that is designed for all of my errands and my new job? Wouldn't I buy the right tools if I was in any other job (computer, etc.). I think it is my need to be different, I hate following the crowd. I am afraid that I will loose myself and become blurry, like Bec said. It was bad the first couple years of motherhood. Sometimes when you are a mom it feels like you have no choice - either do activities with your kids that are already planned by people you wouldn't normally hang out with or sit at home. I know I could be more creative or whatever and plan cool activities but I am not creative. And I am tired. Too tired to come up with a cool solution, which I would have definitey done before I had kids. So glad blogs like this exist so I know I am not alone. PS - is anyone averse to Disneyworld/Land??? I can't stomach going there. My husband either. Other mom's actually get offended when I say "Well, I really don't like it much". I feel like herded cattle the few times we tried (but the Disney cruise was awesome). GGC, thanks for writing. And thank you all for responding.

radioactive girl | 8:19 AM

What I loved about becoming a grown up is that labels don't seem to matter anymore. I can't stand labels being used to define a person. Depending on what day you talk to me, I can be shy, or outgoing. I have always been that way. Now that I have kids, I have to fight the labels again for them. My youngest is a lot like me, in that you never know what to expect from him. People label him anyway even though the contradictory labels make no sense (wild, peaceful etc.) I forgot to de-lurk but I lurk here all the time. You have the best most thought provoking posts I have ever read.

Jennifer | 10:44 PM

De-lurking to let you know how much I usually enjoy your posts. No matter where you are writing, you always write well. And although this was another beautiful essay/post, I think you are being extremely judgmental and unfair. Lumping people together because their kids wear sweatshirts is unfair. You know so little about those people. Do you ever wonder if siding with the outsiders is anothing way of conforming?

I probably feel so strongly about this because I am a foreigner in the town where I live. I am *the* foreigner on the playground and *the* foreigner at my son's school. Yeah sure the other kids dress the same and so do the moms. They also all have the same hairstyle, which is kinda creepy. Anyway. It took a long time to get to know anyone beyond a smile and a nod, but the people who approached me and invited me over or out ended up having a lot more to offer than I would have given them credit for if I'd judged them solely on their brand of clothing and playground coversations.

That's all. I'm done now. Keep writing. It's good stuff.

abbersnail | 3:29 PM

I know this post is months old, but I just stumbled across it while reading your archives (since you are my newest blog crush). I am not a mom, but I feel like you just described my entire childhood. I think we all feel alone sometimes, but I think some of us feel it more often.

mike | 3:08 AM

What better way to send your love across the miles than a Valentines Day Care Package? This delightful red gift box includes a delightful teddy bears, Hershey Kisses and an assortment of valentines chocolates.

Stuffed Bears | 3:30 AM

First of all, I have to say, I like kids, but I have no children, so I do not know what kind of a way to educate children is the most correct, I'm sorry.
But I always hope that my own children can be a happy child.