A few weeks ago my daughter's school had a festival on Saturday. Since she is in Kindergarten and I haven't been terribly involved other than chaperoning one field trip, this was it. My first time to get a real feel for the other moms. Who gets involved? What's the 'mom-culture' here?
I admit to reading other parenting blogs of course, and hearing all about these communities where moms feel intense pressure to be all things to all people - chair PTA, chaperone events, make sure their little Suzie or Johnny is impeccably dressed and comes to school with all their homework - even if it means endangering the roadways speeding back to school when it gets left at home.
So, you know what? I was feeling a bit nervous. After all, I am pretty much the anti-mom when it comes to that scene. I play video games about as much as my kid does, we watch shows and movies together most parents would probably wonder at my sanity for exposing my six-year-old to. ("Supernatural", anyone?!) I don't watch daytime TV, Deperate Housewives, and generally after a short while I have not much in common with many people. At least, not enough to go beyond making nice.
I was prepared, though. I figured our neighborhood isn't prep school territory, but there are still some fairly well-off folks around and I thought given they would most likely be the volunteers, I was in for a clique of super-moms. I like to bake, so when the form came home two weeks before, I happily checked the box for bringing cupcakes and researched sugar-free cupcake and icing recipes. After all, having a diabetic child I certainly wasn't going to torture her with not being able to eat our own creations!
After a false start (because I can't read directions) we had twenty-four awesome home-baked and kid decorated chocolate cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese icing. I left the part about being sugar-free off my description but figured I'd tell whomever was in charge of that table in case it was actually a selling-point.
When I got there and saw the table of baked goods on offer I was frankly shocked. Ours were one of only a few home made offerings! So much for super moms I guess.
One would think I was relieved, right? No crazy expectations for me - I wasn't living in some television-ready suburbia. But no, I wasn't relieved. I was actually upset.
I'm not a super mom, and I know it. I should spend a bit more time with my daughter's homework after school, take her to the park more often and a few other things. I know I'm not alone in feeling that way, either. But really? In this mini-van, drive-thru dinner culture we live in parents can't even take the few hours it requires to make some actual food with their kids? True, baking is intimidating to some - so buy box mix and throw in the eggs and oil. Voila! I wasn't expecting everyone to have from scratch stuff on offer and truthfully if my sugar-free experiment had failed I'd have been running to the store for box mix, as well.
I would not have run to the store for a pre-packaged selection from the bakery.
Call me a snob - maybe I am. I don't expect perfection from parents and I understand how crazy busy life can get. After all, I spent all day Thursday, Friday and half of Sunday on a jobsite with my husband.
We had two weeks notice, though. Two weeks to plan a couple hours on a Thursday or Friday night to spend some hours in the kitchen whipping up one cake, or even just a dozen cupcakes. I fail to see how hard that is. If I can take time out of my hectic, self-employed life to commit to making some cupcakes I can't imagine living in a world where it's absolutely impossible. I don't want that life.
Yeah, maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe these kids are better readers than my daughter, maybe they excel at whatever sport they were taking lessons for that night of the week. Maybe these parents are so busy being awesome at parenting they just don't have the time to squeeze home made sweets into the mix.
I doubt it, though. And that makes me sad. I'll keep my line in the sand when it comes to the things that count. No, I don't have her in ballet, soccer and learning some instrument. I have time when I pick her up from school to actually make food from our refrigerator most nights. Healthy, home cooked meals, not box or bag throw-togethers. None of us are perfect and I don't want to live in tv-suburbia hell.
Would it be so bad to live in a world again where family time meant cooking time? Nope. Not in my book.
Photo courtesy of shimelle on Flickr (Yes, I did forget to get a picture of my own cupcakes! lol)