Mother’s Day isn’t just a time to reflect on the growth and maturity of my sons, (and perhaps indulge in some spa pampering), but also an opportunity to direct my attention outwardly to acknowledge those neighborhood moms who have helped me in my own journey as a mother. I won’t bore you with philosophies on childrearing, education or moral upbringing, nor will I wax nostalgic about the baby days of velvety hair and silky cheeks. My fumbling and bumbling at this motherhood deal continues – thirteen years and running – but my head’s still above water many thanks to the Highlands Mother ‘Hood.
A few years ago I was helping a friend deliver an art lesson to a 5th-grade class at Grand Ridge. While washing the paint off our hands she asks, “How early do you think we have to get here tonight?”
I smear violet off the brush. “To put the paints away? Tonight??” I answer, clearly not on the same planet.
“No, Tami,” she responds patiently with only a nuance of an eye-roll, “for the 5th grade play. You know, parking is tight and all the tripod toting parents get here at least 45 minutes in advance.”
“No, not the drama club that meets after school. You know,” she splutters with borderline desperation, “the entire 5th grade’s production of Treasure Island! They’ve been working on for half the year during choir and before school!”
“The ENTIRE 5th grade?! Jack’s in a play? Tonight?!” Entering the atmosphere of this planet is an unpleasant experience. “Why didn’t Jack tell me he’s in a play!?” I know the answer though, before the question leaves my mouth. He’s an 11-year-old boy who would rather pour a cup of lemon juice in his eyeballs than go onstage in front of an audience and sing, or even talk.
Thanks to the Highlands Mother ‘Hood, that bountiful network of friends who are on the ball, I am able to throw together a costume for Jack that resembles Captain Jack Sparrow, but is assembled with the speed of Edward Scissorshands…(thank you, Johnny Depp!)
I breathe gratitude for weeks after the play relieved by the heads-up about one of the many landmark events other parents are well aware of months in advance. My fellow moms read the classroom newsletters and pay close attention to the notices that say, “Please prepare your child with an eye patch and a peg leg for next month’s pirate play.” As the not-so-tuned-in-mom I skim the newsletters while wearing said eye patch, balanced on a peg leg, totally caught up in the presumption that my son would never be caught dead on stage, never mind that it is a compulsory 5th grade right of passage performance.
A month later the Highlands Mother ‘Hood helped me stay properly in orbit when a friend asked, “Are you going to sign up as a chaperone for Camp Colman?”
“Why does Mr. Coleman need chaperones? Doesn’t he run his activities in the gym?” It was firmly planted in my brain the Mr. Coleman, then the P.E. teacher at Grand Ridge, conducted various before-school activities for the kids, and that “Camp Colman” must certainly be this month’s fun theme.
(Cue big sigh. Send out the intergalactic retrieval hook.) “No, Tami. Not Mr. Coleman. CAMP COLMAN, the three-day, two-night 5th grade camp…oh, dear…you thought it involved P.E.?”
“I, uh, thought all those fundraisers were for new P.E. equipment or something. Oops. So, you think I’m capable of chaperoning a zillion 11-year-olds for over 60 hours? I seem to have a track record of parenting milestone near-misses.”
She responds with a reassuring smile, “You’ll do fine. The other moms will tell you what you’re supposed to do.”
Sure enough, I did fine. Thank you, Highlands Mother ‘Hood!