Wednesday, July 27, 2005


I recently went out with some other moms for, well, a moms-night-out type of thing. Just dinner, drinks, and conversation. The five of us live in the same area, and all have daughters the same age; no one works full time.

It’s supposed to be rejuvenating—getting out of the house, connecting with others, taking a break from the family, right? So why did I come home depressed?

First, the assumption that you need a break from your family bothers me. I love my family, and for the most part I enjoy cooking for us, and generally being with them. I do not need to get away from them; or, if I do, I want solitude, not other people. Some of these moms clearly dislike spending time with their families. (Yeah, I feel that way about some of their kids too.)

Second, the assumption that your children’s friends’ parents will be your friends leaves a lot to be desired. As D crudely puts it, the only thing I have in common with these women is that we all got laid eleven years ago. Four of our daughters attended Catholic school together for several years. The other family, although choosing public school for their daughter, is also Catholic. So I’m different there, too, and switching to homeschooling for The Girl just magnifies that. Now add to this the fact that they all went to high school in the area and are related to half the county.

Then we can move on to surface things like manicures, pedicures, and make-up, which actually reflect larger differences in values. I don’t want to imply that the other women are superficial and I’m deep; but it’s clear that I value different things than they do. The talk turned to going to a resort (Mexico or Jamaica) for a week—just “us girls.” “Oh, it wouldn’t be that expensive, if you’re only paying for yourself—maybe $1,000.” Well, let’s say I had a thousand discretionary dollars—that’s not how I’d choose to spend it.

In one class in graduate school, we did a “values clarification” exercise where we were given a long list of attributes (honesty, flexibility, intelligence, etc.) and ranked them in order of how important they were to us in choosing a new job/boss. Next, the instructor broke us into groups based on our external characteristics—for example, I was placed in the working-mom-with-a-baby group, not the young-single-white-male group, or the studious-Asian-female group. Surprise, surprise, the things that were valued highly by others in my group didn’t rank high on my list. Maybe my rankings didn’t line up with anyone in the class, but it sure wasn’t reasonable to categorize me based on my external, umm, lifestyle.

So, a night out with the other moms just reminds me that I’m different. The solution? Seek out friends with whom you actually do have things in common, not those who live nearby and all had sex at the same time.


Another problem with the night out involved our daughters directly. One mom needed a sitter, because hubby wouldn’t be home till later. I told her to bring her kids to my house (her son is a few years younger than The Boy, but adores him). Next the daughter of mom #2 was invited, and oh, can’t leave out their boy—same age as mine. So I’m already imposing on D. by leaving him with a houseful of kids, even if he’ll mostly be working outside.

Now Mom #3 calls an hour before we’re supposed to go and says, “Why are you having all the girls and haven’t invited L____?” What can I do? Say, “No, she’s been a snotty brat to The Girl every time they’ve seen each other this summer”? Say, “No, enough is enough”? Say, “It’s rude to invite yourself to someone else’s house” (a lesson I try to impress on my kids)? Say, “The other girls don’t want L____," even though I know this to be true?

Of couse not. I say, “Sure, bring her over too!” (I was bold enough to tell her that her horrible twin boys were not welcome—she was probably insulted, even though I didn’t use the word horrible, but happily, they were busy elsewhere.) Got off the phone and The Girl was indeed not happy to have L___ added to the mix.

My dad has a saying:
A dog’s a dog.
Two dogs is half a dog.
Three dogs is no dog at all.
Meaning, if you want a dog to pay attention and do things for you, the fewer the better.

D. has pointed out that this aphorism also applies to the girls. Ours is responsible, and gets along well with The Boy. Two girls could have reasonably been expected to keep an eye on the boys, and perhaps even play with them. Three or four of them? Not gonna happen.

As it turned out, after some initial uncertainly about who was going to be friends with whom, the girls had ice cream and watched a movie, the boys played nicely, and one dad (the smartest, least annoying one) stayed around and talked with D for a couple hours. I probably would have enjoyed that conversation more than the one I had.


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