Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A good class mom…

Being a mother is taken very seriously in America. You are asked almost immediately which team you play for: Working Mom or Stay-at-Home Mom. The Working moms all looked overdressed in suits and busy as they picked up their kids, while answering their Motorola and driving a tank. The Stay-at-Homes wore trendy sports clothes and always had a huge Starbucks in their hand, or in the drink holder of the trendy stroller they were pushing with their new baby or toddler. They liked to jog with strollers around Lincoln Park, often with a dog attached, running along too.

So, for me, it was a tricky question, since I work and stay-at-home. I don’t dress chic, but I am not sporty either and I hate jogging. We don’t even have a car as a status symbol or a posh address, which confused them. When I said that I was English with a French husband living in America, they could not categorize me and gave up.

I felt miles more comfortable with the French mamans, who looked well-dressed even at eight in the morning, didn’t overdo the sports thing, went to cafes for their coffee, and had much better conversation anyway. But I felt I should try with the Americans, so I offered to do a class trip to the Botanical Gardens with Nina's 2nd Grade class.

The trip was over-booked, eight mothers for about 25 kids, and we had to sit in threes on the antique yellow school bus. The moms were excited, proud to have been selected and trying hard to be better than anyone else. Instead of going round as a group we were split into groups of three, and we rushed off, trying to give our kids the best school trip ever. Nina was clingy, but I understood why, the American girls all had a Best Friend. The two French-American girls in her class had no interest in Nina, probably because they already had a Best Friend in another class, or perhaps didn’t want to seen speaking French with Nina in class, which was frowned on. I saw that Nina was terribly lonely and missed her KL friends. And I felt the same way.

The only mothers in the whole school who talked to me for more than five minutes were divorcees. They were incredibly candid and open about their situation, telling me more than I wanted to know. I guess we both felt somewhat excluded from the perfect Lincoln life the moms were trying to have.

1 comment:

The Globetrotter Parent said...

Boy can I relate to the part about the differences between French and American moms. I'm Canadian but, having lived in France for five years (and now in Italy but well-ensconced in the French-expat community), I often feel like I can relate more to the French moms.