Thursday, November 4, 2010

Like the Other Mommies

“I’m so glad you’re my mom,” she told me as we were driving home. “I don’t know anyone else’s mom who would let them do something like this.”

There’s a statement that will strike fear in the heart of any parent.

In this particular case, I didn’t think that I’d done anything too off-the-wall, just purchased a cigarette holder (and fake cigarette) for Mary Katherine, all by way of completing her Halloween costume: Holly Golightly, as portrayed by Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

I’d taken Mary Katherine and Olivia to the Halloween Store for this particular purchase. Mary Katherine and I had shrieked and hidden our eyes at the entrance, causing much embarrassment to poor, beleaguered Olivia. (Okay, I’m sorry, but somehow “disemboweled ghouls with rotting flesh” do not spell F-U-N to me, and I express that feeling with some gusto.)

We found the holder first and then began a lengthy debate on what we’d put in it. I suggested buying a pack of actual cigarettes and the girls gave me that “you’re being inappropriate” look, the one where they’re 80 and I’m 15. “It’s a good idea,” I said, “because then I could start on my new smoking habit before New Year’s Resolution Time.” I vow every year to take up smoking at the New Year, just to balance out all the quitters. I ask for ashtrays for Christmas every year. Needles to say, the charm of this little tic wore off on my children many years ago.

“You’re not going to buy cigarettes, and you can’t smoke them at the dog park, either,” Olivia (age 12) told me firmly. I had a big idea the other day that I could smoke at the dog park with impunity, and that it would be the perfect place for my new habit to begin. Olivia was not impressed and had been discouraging this plan for some weeks now.

Luckily, the girls found fake cigarettes at the check-out counter, another purchase for Mommy, and the one which prompted Mary Katherine’s tweeny gratitude.

Was it true, I thought later? Would No Other Mommy have allowed cigarettes to be part of a costume?

I thought about the other mothers of the kids at Mary’s school.

I realized she was right.

I’ve never quite been a Regular Mommy type, anyway. I was always more comfortable with the other adoptive parents in Emma’s set, but once I lighted in the land of birth parents, I was really out of my element. Play Dates? I never understood them and I quickly stopped being invited to them. Honey, if I enjoyed your company I’d hire a sitter and go drink wine with you somewhere, not try to carry on a conversation over the noise of the “Dragon Tales” episode coming out of your rec room.

If I failed at Play Dates, I really fail at worrying. I am, of course, a World-Class Worrier, Middle Weight Division. But I never seem to worry about the right things. I remember talking with another mommy recently about the School Year Abroad program, which Emma has been considering. “It sounds like great program,” I said, and the first words out of this woman’s mouth were “Alcohol! Sex!” She repeated this panicked cry several times. And while I had many worries about this particular program – Would we be able to afford it? Would Emma spark an international incident that would lead to a global diplomatic crisis? I had figured that alcohol and sex were a)pretty much already available in these parts, last I heard; and b) not under my current control, only my continued advice.

So there I am. Bad at play dates, bad at worrying, but great at buying inappropriate accessories for campy Halloween costumes. I give me an F Plus.

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