It’s Wednesday night, and I’m sitting around a marble countertop at Spagio Wine Cellars with seven other women. We all have children in the same preschool class, and we want to get to know each other so we can schedule play dates with a clear conscience.
It starts innocently enough. One by one, we walk through the door, shaking off the blasting cold with a cheerful hello and a glance at the wine list. We complement one another, which is what women do when they don’t know each other well, and then something totally unexpected happens.
They launch into their very worst stories.
(I’m changing names here. Nobody wants their kid-related laundry aired with names attached.)
“My kid’s the class troublemaker, if you’re wondering,” one mom says. When we tell her she’s being silly, she answers, “No, really. Campbell was sent to the office again today. Isn’t that crazy? This is preschool.”
“Tell them about his first trip to the office,” another mom urges. She looks at the rest of us and whispers loudly, “It’s actually pretty funny.”
“The preschool directors called and said, ‘We think Campbell needs to go home a little early today.’ He’d pushed Abigail and dumped soap in the fish tank. I tried to scold him, but I couldn’t keep a straight face. Pushing Abigail was bad, but come on—soap in the fish tank? That is hilarious.”
“You think that’s bad?” another mom says. “On Friday night, we called Poison Control because Joe ate baby powder. I ran upstairs to see why he was coughing, and he was pouring it in his mouth! The Help Line called back three times to check on him and reminded us to watch for a fever in case he developed a lung infection.”
“That’s little boys for you. “
“I send my son to Montessori in the morning and preschool in the afternoon because our nanny can’t handle him.”
I’m just fascinated by these women! It’s the strangest pissing content I’ve ever seen. Usually, moms try to outdo each other with stories that shine the best possible light on their children and themselves. But these women? Oh no. There are no pretenses here. Just honesty. And I love it.
It all makes me think of a scene in Sex in the City 2.
(What? I saw it, ok?)
As I was saying, it all makes me think of a scene in Sex in the City 2. Charlotte is worried that her husband Harry is having an affair with their beautiful (and bra-less) Irish nanny. Miranda decides to get Charlotte drunk so she’ll talk about her honest, ugliest, most hard-to-admit feelings.
Miranda says something like, “I’ll go first: You know I love Brady [her son] with all my heart. And I love staying home with him. But it’s not enough. I miss my job. Take a drink.”
They both throw back, and Charlotte says something like, “I love my girls, but Rose cries all the time. Sometimes I just have to lock myself in the closet and have a good cry myself.”
And then Miranda says “Good. Good. Now take a drink.”
The two go back and forth until they’re laughing and reassured and completely plastered. It’s a satisfying scene, because the sentiments are those every mother (and father, I’m guessing) on the planet can relate to.
Not long ago, H asked me for a snack. I told him it was too close to supper, so he completely melted down. It wasn’t a tantrum-ish kind of fall-apart. Instead, he just wept, and slurred out the quietest, most dreadful words in the world: “Why don’t you love me?”
This, just for saying no to snacks?
I dropped the spoon I was holding. It clattered against the floor. For a moment, I was too stunned to do or say anything. But then I scooped him up, showered his blond head with kisses and searched the last almost-six years of his life to figure out where on earth he could ever have fallen under such a sad impression—or what I could do to erase it—or what I could say to prove just how much my boys are my world.
But how, right? Honestly, how can a parent ever possibly explain what it’s like to love a child? No matter how crazy my boys behave, or how much I hate when they burp or beat each other up or throw tantrums in public or forget to be respectful, I still follow them around with blind, unfettered, goofy, boundless, unconditional love. I don’t understand—I honestly can’t imagine—how for even an instant, my son couldn’t see that.
If you want to know my biggest parental failure to date, I guess I’d say this has to be it.
And the worst part is, it’s a big one. Take a drink.
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