Wednesday, February 07, 2007

If you're looking for me I'll be hiding underneath my pillow

I'm a schmuck.

Chicky and I just returned from a birthday party for two of my friend's children, who both turn two years old this week. Last year we were all having low key birthday parties for our kids, just some lunch and hanging out with friends. No muss, no fuss (okay, a little bit of fuss), and most of all... No presents. It was simple and easy and relatively stress free. According to the evite I received, this year's party was going to be even more laid back since there were going to be less people. Great! I love that idea. That's what I was planning to do for Chicky's second birthday in a couple of months - keep it low key. I have enough stress in social situations without having to add to it.

Since I was the last to arrive I didn't notice anything unusual about this get together. There were a couple of new faces but for the most part it was the same small group of friends. We played, had lunch, ate some cupcakes and then it came time for presents.

Guess who didn't bring presents.


Guess what everybody else brought.


I was mortified. I'm sure my cheeks were pink with embarrassment, especially after my girlfriend said, while trying to sort through the wrapping paper for the toys on the floor, "We didn't miss anything, did we?" And then she looked at me and I was forced to shake my head, no.

No, you didn't miss anything. I'm a schmuck.

I made the biggest birthday faux pas. I was the guest who didn't bring gifts for the birthday boy and girl. As soon as all the wrapping paper was picked up I got our coats and hurried Chicky out of there quickly, muttering something about it being way past naptime. The entire way home I chanted "Stupid, Stupid, Stupid, Stupid, Stupid." It's hard to drive a car when you're banging your head against the steering wheel.

I'm so mad! I'm mad at myself and at everyone else, too. I'm mad that the rules changed and no one thought to tell me - remember, I said last year we didn't do gifts. But I'm also mad because I never thought that they could change. It barely occurred to me. Sure, I thought that at some point, when they were older, we would start doing gifts for the kids. And I thought about it while pulling into my friend's driveway, that maybe a couple of the other people would bring something, mainly the people who were old friends of the hostess, but it didn't even cross my mind up until that point. That's not how our group functions, or so I thought.

Apparently, that is exactly how it functions.

Of course there's more to this story. You knew there had to be. Unfortunately, this is just the culmination of months of feeling inadequate when around these women. I'm the one that will forget to restock the diaper bag before heading out to one of their homes for a playdate, only to have my kid take a huge dump at their house. I'm the one who never has the portable highchair for lunchtime playdates. Or how about the day that the other women decided ahead of time to let their kids play in the wading pool at someone's house after our playgroup. They all had sunscreen and bathing suits, sun hats, water sandals and swim diapers ready to go for their kids. Me? I never got the email, apparently it was sent to the wrong address. I had to mooch an extra swim diaper off of someone. If not for that diaper my kid would have been completely naked, which would have been fine if I didn't already feel like a horrible mother for not having some of those things ready to go in my bag. And, no, it does not make me feel the least bit better that it was someone else's fault for sending the email to the wrong address. I should have been ready, just in case. Because mother's are supposed to be ready for those types of situations.

There are loads of other tiny, almost inconsequential moments. Moments that would be easy to laugh off if not for the amount of times that they've happened. But put them all together and add to them the big elephant in the room - the fact that my kid is so far behind the others in language development - and it leaves me feeling like a complete failure as a mother. I'm always a day late and a dollar short. They're always two steps ahead and I'm always running to catch up. I'm scarred from all the tripping and falling.

Yes, I'm feeling sorry for myself. I made a silly mistake and I'm making it worse by drudging up old incidents. But why, for once, can't I be that mom that seems to have it all together? Or maybe, just once, they could let me see them stumble. And then I wouldn't feel like such a schmuck. Which, in this case, is synonymous with being a bad mother.


Sarahviz said...

From someone who has definitely "been there, done that", I truly sympathize. Hang in there!

Jess Riley said...

Aww...from where I sit, you DO seem to have things together!!

Hugs to you, Mrs. Chickster. I know how you feel (although substitute "other mothers" with "other writers"...the mother thing I'll have to add later, possibly. :-)

joker the lurcher said...

me too! i went back to work full time when my son was 10 weeks old and felt a total failure both at work and at home. i never knew how to play with him or any other kids and so on. but now we have a great relationship. he will fight my corner and me his and he appreciates what i do for him. so don't worry! although its easy to say that now...

Dave Scott said...

Don't worry no one is keeping score. Life's too short to stress over the small stuff...(Oh yeah it's all small stuff). Just thought I'd de-lurk. Got your link from SJ's blog.

Mrs. Schmitty said...

I highly doubt those other moms are as "put together" as you think. If they say they are, they are lying. You are doing just fine don't let them make you feel you aren't.

Radioactive Tori said...

gvI don't feel this way with my kids, but I feel this way with life ALL THE TIME! Like I am always trying to play catch up and not keeping pace with everyone else very well. In fact, the only thing I feel like I do a good job at and DON'T obsess over (much) are my kids. You are a great mom, and also a great friend. Don't stress about the present thing. I would be happy if people would show up with no presents for my kids. The kid isn't going to notice the lack of the present, and if the mom does, then you don't need her anyway.
Hugs for you, because it sounds like you need them!

Anonymous said...

If your so called friends are going to judge you and you are so worried about what they will think maybe it's time for you to find a new group. I can't groups when it's all about who is better than the other.

karengreeners said...

i'm with you.

did you ever see the six feet under episode where ruth is invited to her knitting teacher's party, and despite assertions that she shouldn't, ruth brings the potato salad? and ends up flushing it down the toilet because there is nowhere for her gigantic aluminum container to fit among the beautifully catered fare?

that is so me with the potato salad.

I will show up somewhere with tons of snacks, neatly chopped up and put into little purple containers, but no wipes. or no sippy cup.
and i actually have rsvp'd no to a child's party, simply because the invitation said 'no presents please,' and to me, that just reeks of a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't scenario.
somehow, i always end up on the asshole end of those situations.

Julie said...

Delurking to say hello. Also to say don't worry about it. We all feel inadequate at times. If the worst you do is forget the restock the diaper bag or show up without a gift you're doing just fine! Heck, I ran errands the other day with my 15 month old and totally forgot the entire diaper bag. Ended up having to buy diapers and wipes on the road to change a stinker.

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Anon - I'm sorry if I gave you the impression that my group of friends were judgmental, because they're not. They are a wonderful group of women with faults of their own I'm sure - though I've never seen them - so the problem lies solely on my shoulders. I don't believe they're keeping tabs, but I do find it difficult to believe that my slip ups are not noticed or spoken about in hushed tones when I'm not around. But then again, maybe that's my insecurity talking again.

Binky said...

If you hung out with me, you'd end up feeling like mother of the year :)

However, I have embraced my absentminded oblivion and usually make no effort to apologize for it--at least not whole-heartedly. The way I look at it is that nobody's perfect and if anyone wants to pretend to the contrary, well, they can go ahead and expend all the energy they want to that end. Me, I'm more than content to sit back on the fat cushion of my foibles.

Cate said...

Hey, at least you have it together enough to be in a playgroup. I've dropped out of every one I've ever tried to join.

I think most moms are stumbling too, they're just better at hiding it.

Your girlfriend who straight-out asked if she was missing anything? Is kind of a jerk. She should have let it go, two-year-olds aren't keeping score. Who need more crappy toys to clutter up the house anyway?

Irreverent Antisocial Intellectual said...

Way back before GC, I was always the odd one out at those kid parties we were forced to go to - my presents weren't wrapped in the theme, I brought the homemade stuff instead of the fancy storebought shit, I was in shorts and sandals at a BBQ and the other women were in silk shifts and designer sunglasses ... I know inadequate.
If you wanna laugh - one of the bitchy women at the BBQ birthday party actually told me I looked just like Malibu Marbie and all I could do was stand there with my mouth hanging open.
There is the difference - those people hated (and still do) my ass. Your people aren't that bad, right? Right?

Blog Antagonist said...

Fuck fuck fuck. I just typed a really long comment and blogger ATE it.

The upshot was this:

You need to cut yourself some slack. The birthday thing was undoubtedly embarassing, but it was nothing that a heartfelt apology and an explanation can't fix.

The other are being way too hard on yourself. We all have different strengths and weaknesses and we need to celebrate those strengths and forgive the weaknesses. We can't all be the same Mom.

I was and am one of those Moms who was always prepared. But I am NOT the kind of Mom who can get down on the carpet and go "vroom vroom" without feeling as if my brain is atrophying from boredom.

I sometimes wish I was less organized and structured and prepared...and more playful.

But I'm not. That's just not me. I've learned to forgive myself for that, and focus on the ways that I am good mother.

And you are a good mother. Because you love your baby. And that's all they really care about anyway.

Heather said...

You're like me - too hard on yourself.

metro mama said...

I wrote about something similar a while back:

This mommy stuff doesn't come naturally for me, but hey, I'm good at other things. I never have the damn wipes, or the swim diaper, or often food for that matter.

You should not feel bad about the gift thing-they should have told you the rules had changed!

Christina said...

Oh yeah, I've been there. Don't sweat it - you're not the only mom to ever forgot to pack the diaper bag or show up without a present. You've at least got me, too.

I'm too disorganized to even have a group of mom friends to hang out with on a regular basis. No one wants me around, because I'm the weird mom with the weird kid.

We are too hard on ourselves. I'm sure they view you in a far better light than you view yourself.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure those women are having (or have had) these same feelings. I think it's wired into our DNA as women to compare ourselves to our peers and always come up feeling short.

From my perspective? You sound VERY together.

motherbumper said...

I am known in the mommy circle as the mom who never has:diapers, wipes, food, or toys (take your pick, it's always whatever is needed). It's become a bit of a joke actually. But that doesn't stop me from stressing about it. The gift can be made up and I'd probably explain why. I've done the same: This past Christmas the mom's I hang with all showed up with gifts for the other kids. Me? Nada. I'm not even sure why I didn't know and I just played it off but damn, it was uncomfortable.

moosh in indy. said...

My neighbors daughter somehow made it to church with poo in her hair. My kid took a several dumps while our plane was delayed and I had NO diapers. I had to bum them off complete strangers three times, in an hour. I'm grateful for other mom's like you. And you know all together moms have much bigger blunders when it really matters.

cooler*doula said...

Dang you, blogger!!!!!
Argh - it just ate my sensitive, supportive response. I'll recap...

1) I doubt they're keeping score. Maybe some are. But that's life. The ones worth bonding with aren't.
2) They changed the rules. Which sucks. Just deliver something groovy and interesting with a charming, funny (which we know you can do) honest note. These are awfully cool:
3) Pack a large bag with several of every possible thing for any toddleresque occasion. Place in truck of car. Never be unprepared again - and even better - never have to think about it again.

Chin up. And head out from under the pillow. You're mussing your super new do.

Ruth Dynamite said...

Yeah - but how much bourbon are you swilling at these parties and playdates? (That was JUST A JOKE!)

Oh puh-lease. Don't feel bad, not for a second. No one has it as together as it seems. I'm sure you have it way more together than most, Mrs. Chickity. No doubt about it.

Kristin said...

Mrs. Chicky, you are the me of 3 children ago... now, with Eva, she was off formula when we ran out, weaned from the bottle when I lost the last one and out of the crib when we redid her room...

Also, if you are half as awesome in person as you are on this blog, everyone is probably too damn pleased to have your company to worry about your lack of swim diaper... and really, what kid actually needs another present?!

Anonymous said...

Chicky, CHICKY, BABY, lemme tell you sumthin... you are the mommy your child needs you to be. That's all any of us can expect or aspire to... OF OURSELVES. Expecting yourself to be supermom because you percieve that the others around you are is just... well... they have meds for that now hon. (I know... I TAKE em! heh) Seriously, don't let your crazy XX ness take over your perception of yourself and make you doubt that you're who and what your kiddo needs you to be. We all fall short. We all fall down. All it takes to fix it is a nice long, loving snuggle with your lil' one to realize the only one you REALLY have to worry about disappointing... is the one in your arms. :)

Girl con Queso said...

Actually, you sound like the cool mom. I'd want to hang with you.

Unknown said...

From a mother of six teens (14-20) let me tell you that you sound like a wonderful mother and this is the first (and only so far) post I've read. Your child is the only one you need to impress and your child will talk when ready. Just remember to look at your wonderful child a few years from now and give yourself a pat on the back while thinking, "I did this."

I can't count the times I mentally kicked myself for forgetting something or doing something "wrong". Yet my kids are all still alive, happy, and uknown by the police. Well, for the most part. :)

mo-wo said...

At least you brave the mommy groups.

tough stuff.

Not From Lapland said...

I second queso's comment. Feel free to come round anytime and don't worry about remembering the diaper bag - that's what freinds are for. And more than likely is exactly how your friends feel about you. Think they really care that you have to borrow nappies and sunscreen? Nah, they are just glad to see you.

Chin up girl.

carrie said...

I've been there, done that. Still am doing the whole "leave the house without the proper gear" on kid #3!!!!

It's a wonder I am alive, or my kids!

And these women of which you speak, they aren't perfect. Trust me. I mean come on, one of them can't even email properly! So there!

You rock Mrs. Chicky!


Avalon said...

Oh Mrs. C~~ None of this stuff reflects on you as a mother. i was the same exact way, and thank the stars, my kid grew up to be a terrific person. With a great memory and a knack for being prepared. I taught her that. With all my forgetting.

You are just preparing Chicky for life.It's not always planned out perfectly and she'll learn to roll with it.

Vikki said...

I don't want to cause any existential angst here but I just can't help thinking that if they were really your friends, they wouldn't care if you didn't show up with wipes...a gift...a swim diaper. They would just be glad that you were there and would exude generosity rather than judgement.

Maureen Fitzgerald said...

You just narrated the story of my life - and not just since having a child. Thank you for making me feel like I'm not alone!

Kimberly said...

Oh, don't sweat it. All of these things are really inconsequential in the long run. Though I have to say, I've felt the same way many times. I think you and I would get along perfectly! :-)

Mama en Fuego said...

Honey, you are doing just fine, those other mom's are probably wearing 3 day old underwear. Nobody is perfect, don't be so harsh on yourself.

Damselfly said...

It seems like your friends love you no matter all these mishaps, many of which don't even seem to be your fault! Don't beat yourself up over them.

Kevin Charnas said...

Oh Mrs. Chicky...first of all, they SHOULD'VE TOLD YOU that there were going to be gifts this year. That wasn't fair, nor cool.
And second of all, they just SEEM like they have it all together. One of my best friends is one of those moms that seems like she has it all together...and let me tell ya, between me-you-and the woodwork? She doesn't.

Crunchy Carpets said...

Which is why I stay home as much as possible.
My sil's SIS LOVES telling me great tips that I should already can HEAR dumbass after every statement.

My friend is like that. When her kid was about your kids age, she would arrive with TWO bags of stuff. A foldup toilet seat being one of them. Food, drink and about 5 changes of clothes.

I can count on one hand the times I remembered a change of clothes.

And forget the pool...sunscree??? hats???


Mamacita Tina said...

You're way too hard on yourself. I like you the way you are, and not like one of those pickle-up-the-butt moms you're describing. Easy going + mistakes = happy, less stress (well less if you learn to accept who you are). Control freak + perfect = insane, possibly snapping at any point.

Cristina said...

About the present thing, that is TOTALLY something I would do. Gah! It's an easy faux pas to make - especially when you thought no one was bringing presents.

As for the other stuff, my Little Guy is behind all his playmates on language development too and I've had to mooch a diaper or two before. Don't beat yourself up. I know it's hard not to compare, but you're a good mom, a loving mom, and forgetting the sunscreen doesn't change that one bit.

OhTheJoys said...

Reading all that, I can tell you with complete honesty that YOU are the mom I want to hang out with. So there.

kittenpie said...

Hey, just send a giftie with a note apologizing for leaving it at home. And always confirm plans before future dates with these switheroo-pullers!

Redneck Mommy said...

Well, my favorite little Chicky bird, I have to say FUCK it.

I know, such potty language, but I've had a rough week. I wouldn't worry about such feelings of inadequacy and woe about the little bird's speech. My darling Fric, the eldest, didn't string together a two word sentence until she was almost three.

I even went to the pediatrician and had her hearing tested and everything. She understood everything, she was just a stubborn mule when it came to speech.

Now I tell her to zip the lips at least a dozen times a day. Oneday she opened her mouth and I don't believe she has shut it since. Sigh.

The chicky baby will be the same. Trust me.

As for the not being prepared, well, that's my domain too. I just like to tell myself I'm too cool to conform to those freakish self-imposed standards that other mommy's like to live by.

I have a solution for ya: Nipple rings. They'll set you free. Trust me.

And email me a list of the good wines, kay? Cuz my mommy juice needs an update.

Mad said...

You know, I bet all those other mothers have their moments too. I always feel awkward with my Mom's group--too old, too boisterous. My daughter is so shy around the other kids that I feel as if I'm always tripping over myself to protect her. Did I mention the age? Nothing makes you feel the stigma of being an older mom more than being in a Mom's group where you are a good decade older than the oldest one.

Chin up, sweet Chicky. Those swim diapers are just a cheap marketing ploy anyway. Next time, just say "Fuck this noise" and go into the wading pool commando with the little Chick in tow. Show 'em the power of a grey hoo haw. Now that would make a fine birthday present.

Debbie said...

or, you could realize that you wouldn't be my UBER-HERO for having been normal, like most of us, because seriously?

I fucking hate those super-mommies. they can bite my cranky, smooshy ass.

love you, girly.

Debbie said...

boy, that made less than no sense. it made under-sense.

um. what I meant was, thank you for admitting to not always having it together, because it makes me feel better.

and, clearly, it's all about me. *wink*

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