I was sitting in my 9 year old car in the carpool lane at my kid's school. When you're sitting, and waiting, it's a great time to notice your immediate surroundings. Like the inside of my car. I took that moment to curse the fact that my car has a light beige-colored interior. At least, it was beige once. Two kids later, it looks more like...mud. Dealers shouldn't be allowed to sell light-colored interiors to new moms who don't know any better. There should be a warning posted, just like not drinking or smoking when you're pregnant. Anyway (how'd I get off on that tangent?!), I'm sitting there in the carpool lane at school, and I'm noticing my surroundings: there's a parent driving a new Porsche in front of me, and another driving a new Rolls Royce on the side of me. I was able to confirm right then and there that the recession is not affecting everyone equally. So, me and my little old Benz with the mud-colored interior are trying to fit in the best we can. We've done ok so far.
This is our fourth year at the private school. A school where nannies are cliche. There are families with bodyguards, and private jets, and vacation homes in overseas locations that I can't pronounce. You've seen some of these parents in the year's hottest movies. You probably have one of their songs rotating in your ipod. My 8 1/2 year old has come home from a playdate on more than one occasion, coveting the fun little household extras of her friends.
"I want an elevator in my house like Dorian."
To which I replied: "Our house is one story. Where do you think an elevator would go?"
"I want an indoor swimming pool like Celeste."
To which I replied: "You have one. It's called a bathtub. Now get in it."
Now, I can honestly say, despite the fact that Little Jane's dad can be found on Thursday night Must-See TV, and my kid's dad works a regular 9 to 5, I have never felt less-than in their presence. The moms, with very few exception, have been down to earth and friendly and...enjoyable. You hate to say it when the diamond on their wedding ring is the size of a gala apple, but it's true. They're mostly...nice.
An interesting thing that I've learned during this whole school process is this: that my own comfort with the school environment, my own feelings of acceptance among administrators and parents, and my ability to connect and establish friendships with the parents of my child's classmates, is more important than I ever could've imagined before becoming a mom. I may not be able to give the school a donation that equates to the cost of my house, but what I have given has been valued - arranging group playdates, entertaining kids at sleepovers and taking care of them like they're my own, keeping the moms informed about local events...I have a value that is appreciated, and makes me feel just as much of that community as the family who donated the new school playground. I feel lucky, because I know of moms who don't experience the same feeling of community. They don't invite other kids over for a playdate because they reside in an apartment instead of a home with a bowling alley. And that saddens me. Because the kids don't care...yet. And instead of enjoying this fleeting experience to the fullest, they are thwarted by their own insecurity.
There I go again. Raising our insecurity issue in yet another post. But truly, other than that damn Mother's Guilt, is there really any other emotion/issue that gets us as discombobulated?! Can you imagine how liberated we would feel as parents if we could let that go? Can you imagine the children we would raise?
I'm feeling good about my choice of school. I'm feeling great about the friends I've made. I'm just "getting in where I fit in." Take me or leave me.
But if this darn tuition keeps going up every year as it has been, my next school-related post may be entirely different - like what the going rate for a kidney is these days, and if I should start selling my internal organs just to keep my kid in our dream school.