Saturday, February 18, 2006

Stranger in a strange land.

The position of househusband (even a part-time one) is an interesting one. In this subsection of Paradise, being a SAHM is a fairly common* thing, but SAHDs are mighty thin on the ground. Mind you, the reason why I'm a SAHD--for those of you** new to this blog-- has more to do with coincidence between my slow months at the office and my wife's busy season. So it works out well, but it's hardly much of a Grand Statement on my part.

Anyway, for whatever reason, this puts me in society with the SAHM contingent for a good 3 months. And it it's interesting. And here's why:

After a while, the fact you're the only one in a meeting of room moms who has a Y chromosome sort of disappears. It's a cross between being invisible and being one-of-the-gang. It still takes a while to get used to, especially when conversation veers into TMI-land. I appreciate that moms are women and, therefore, the likeliest demographic to suffer from medical issues generally best categorized as Women Problems. I appreciate these Women Problems require specialized medical attention. They do not, however, require my having to be regaled with same in such detail. I have far too much good grace to cover my ears and run screaming like my hair was afire, but it's a close-run thing. Having said that, I have empathy and now am a firm proponent that the equipment used by said Women Problem Doctors ought be kept at ~98.6F (or 37C, for the maladjusted) at all times.

Now, as someone who finds women to be CEASELESSLY fascinating, I am of the opinion that there's a whole of women-versus-their-mothers dynamic going on, of which I had never been truly aware until recently. Story: I'm at an after-school thing for NTS, off to the side and pretty much minding my own business. Someone's mom, whom I recognize by sight and with whom I have chatted amiably--if superficially--a few times, shows up with her mother. They say "hi" and go about chatting among themselves. Granny goes to find a water fountain and, once this aged relative is out of earshot, Someone's Mom lets loose with an exasperated tale of woe about how her mother drives her mental.

Me, being the sort of amiable guy I am, nod and "uh-huh" and roll my eyes supportively. To be honest, nothing she said her mom said/did was all that bad to my mind, but whatever. I'm in the Mom Guild and I must play my role. Still, I don't know that if, say, my dad were to comment about my hair or how much better I'd look if I were wearing blue, it'd drive me to such a vexed*** state. Maybe these women have more and more easily pushable buttons. [shrug]

It does explain, howe'er, why it took so long to find someone to marry me. Moms universally loved me and, I think, the girls I dated picked up on that and proceeded to move 180 deg. away from me, as close to supersonic speed as could be managed in heels. The fact my MiL considered me an aberrant weirdo (this has since mellowed to "mild eccentric") probably drove TFBIM towards Holy Matrimony faster than anything I may have ever done. In thinking about it, I should probably be way mo' grateful-like to my MiL and stop putting pumpkins in the window when she shows up.

Now, the thing that DOES drive me bonkers when I am axle deep among the moms is when one of them will turn to me and says "X would look so much prettier if she didn't wear snoods/chinos/crinolines don't you think?" with X being, like, right there. I dunno what they taught these women in Mom School, but don't put me on the spot like that, man. It's extra difficult when X is a woman of ::cough, cough:: limited aesthetic**** charms, to say nothing of those who are actually attractive. For those of you in blogland who were not aware of it, it is an awkward position to be in for Mr. Married Faithful Dad to be asked to comment on how attractive Mrs. Married Hottie Mom is. So cut that out, I got vows ovah heah.

Speaking of awkward, being The One Dad, seemingly in invisible mode, is gotta be like being Polish when people are telling Polish jokes. Only weirder, because it's hard to look obviously Polish unless you're carrying a bushel of pierogies and wearing a name tag which sports a surname desperately shot of vowels. But there I am, obviously a guy, obviously a dad/husband and husband/men jokes start flying. Worst of all, they are not funny. Unfunny jokes are a desperate plea for help.

In my sphere of influence, there are three basic kinds of mom into whom I run on a frquent basis. I realize these are a) generalizations and b) there are MORE generalizations out there than these, this is just the basic sets of people into whom I run on a regular basis.

The Power Mom. This specimen is always put together well with a modest amount of well-applied makeup. She drives a midsize luxury car (i.e., the medium Jaguar, the medium Lexus), never wears jeans and rarely chinos. Occasionally she will show up in workout gear, having actually worked out. She has a decent-sized purse and is usually carrying food and/or travel magazines. She has a PDA or Filofax upon her person. She has a freakish memory for birthdays and names and faces. She is always on her cell phone.

The Whaddaya Want From Me? Mom. She's all over the board. Some days she looks GREAT and others...um...not so much. She is somehow stuck driving not only her kids, but her kids' friends. She is invariably in jeans (ma-a-a-a-aybe chinos) and clogs, wears hip glasses, has a tote bag of a purse, and for some reason makes everyone around her aware of her gynecological state. She has no idea what my name is, and drives a minivan littered with billions of fossilized remnants of fast food drive-through windows. She is tribal and hangs out with similar moms and her status in that tribe is derived by how harried she and/or how absent her husband is. She always carries a book she'd rather be reading while she waits, but other members of the tribe engage her in conversation.

The Cool Mom. For some reason this is a mom who had her kids either VERY early or VERY late. She has an iPod/MP3 on and kinda loud. Her hair is in a ponytail, she wears sneakers and shorts and crazy wristwatches. Minimal, if any makeup, and sunglasses are a fixture. She often greets her kids with a "Guess what I have?" She drives a station wagon or possibly a midsized SUV. She quite often has a large Starbucks cup in her hand. She actually addresses me as "Dude." A lot of these moms are lefthanded and have only a wallet.

To be honest, it's kinda fun being a Stealth Dad. That's not to say I don't derive a certain frisson from showing off or receiving modest adulation. I do. Still, it keeps me making truffles or biscotti for the bake sales.

-J.

P.S. A memo to NOS's friend R's mom: "Your mom is right about the low-rise jeans."

* At NOS's school, I'd guesstimate 25%-30% of the moms are FT SAHMs
** Especially you, our new Kiwi friend
*** That's not to say my dad doesn't vex me--he does, often--but only that he does so by saying crazy things or making less than zero sense.
**** Although, in my experience it is far more common for women to marry beneath their station, aesthetically speaking. Sometimes WAY beneath, if you see what I'm saying.

Posted by Joke at 4:12 AM

8 Comments

  • Blogger blackbird posted at 7:14 AM, February 18, 2006  
    am seriously sitting here trying to figure out which mom I am.
    SUV
    Lefthanded
    no palm, or blackberry
    rarely on the cell
    skirts or jeans
    never chinos
    shelter magazine
    never use the word 'dude'
  • Blogger BabelBabe posted at 7:16 AM, February 18, 2006  
    I *want* to be the cool mom but I am actually in the Whaddya Want From Me camp, I think. So sad.

    More later...I gotta go tend the early-rising baby.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 10:50 AM, February 18, 2006  
    BB1,

    You're a mishmash. Which is fine. Not many mishmashes in my sphere.

    BB2,

    All bets are off when there's a new-ish baby at home.

    -J.
  • Blogger BabelBabe posted at 11:12 AM, February 18, 2006  
    Thank you for the dispensation. You are so NOT an aberrant weirdo : )

    Oh - I am wearing a black silk shirt thinly pinstriped with pink and navy - is this aesthetically all right? Or is it like the pink/brown combo? Do advise.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 11:28 AM, February 18, 2006  
    BB2,

    This is INFINITELY preferable. Exhale.

    -J.
  • Blogger --erica posted at 7:51 PM, February 18, 2006  
    You need something between The Whaddaya Want From Me? Mom. and The Cool Mom..preferrably without this part- "makes everyone around her aware of her gynecological state".
  • Blogger Alessandro_PPG posted at 10:00 PM, February 18, 2006  
    Legal o seu blog! Se quiser visite o meu blogger e meu site de ilustração que está reformulado! Abraços!!
  • Blogger Sarah Louise posted at 10:38 PM, February 18, 2006  
    Yeah, I skim read this one. Don't become a mommy blogger, Joke! Don't move over to the dark side! I need you to be a man about this one!! Truly. Thank you in advance!

    and to my mommy blogger friends--don't change--it's just that I need Joke to Be Joke!
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