I'm at a playgroup run by a local organization - a way for Moms to get together one morning a week, bring their kids, have a cup of coffee and do a little socializing in between breaking up toddler fights. When Greta was small, we went every single week without fail. We were new in town, and it was a great way to meet other Moms with preschool aged kids. Greta always wore cute little seasonally appropriate outfits -- her socks even matched her hair ribbons. I would be showered, dressed to the nines and well accessorized before we left the house, ready to make small talk with the best of them.
"Wow, that's a head scratcher," my friend whispers back, rolling her eyes. "Maybe that is because they ARE at least five years younger than you."
I look around and realize she's right. When did this happen? Most of the Moms there have one preschooler and a toddler or a baby, or maybe they are pregnant with their second child. They are talking about teething, immunizations, and when to wean. Their dewy complexions taunt me.
I haven't been to this playgroup since Greta was three and Finn was an infant. Today, along with my friend's son, Finn is the oldest kid in the room. My friend and I are sitting off to the side, silently sipping our lattes and grateful for a few moments of peace. We have no interest in small talk; silence is golden in our lives. We are the oldest people in the room.
I have become, without noticing it, that harried Mom of school aged kids I used to see in the supermarket. I would be primly pushing my adorable 19 month old along in the cart -carrying a bag full of snacks and drinks for her in case she got hungry or thirsty, along with an educationally enriching toy or two - and wondering what in the heck those other Moms are so stressed about.
Now I know. They are stressed because their 1st grader decided she is a descendant of polar bears and won't wear her coat even in 20 degree weather. Their 4 year old, who didn't have to go to the bathroom when they left the house, is whining that he has to go potty. There is no food in the fridge, and they have to bring cheese and crackers (no peanut products, please!) to the classroom open house the next morning. They have already carted their kids to the library, soccer and CCD, and have to get back to get homework done, dinner on the table and complete the entire week's reading log in one night.
I am lucky if my kids are even wearing socks when we leave the house, let alone matching ones. My daughter won't let me anywhere near her hair with a brush, and prefers to pick out her own outfits - even if it is a tee shirt and flowy skirt in December. Now, instead of obsessing about cute accessories, I find myself saying, "no, you can NOT wear socks with flip flops. It's snowing."
And me? Long gone are the days of showering and doing my hair before I'll step foot outside my house. In a bitter twist of irony, I used to get all dolled up because I wanted to be presentable and put together so I could meet new people. Now I know a lot of people in town, and they are all shopping at Target on the morning I go there hoping my pajama bottoms can pass for sweatpants, my hair sticking out crazily under the baseball cap I crammed on my head as I ran out the door.
I should stop worrying about playgroups and facial moisturizers and have some Moms of pre-teens over for coffee.
I have a lot to learn.