It’s preschool pick-up time. I forgo the carpool line today and instead park my Toyota Sienna in the lot, hopping out quickly and comfortably in my athletic clothing. The sprint through the freezing lot serves as my cardio today, and lugging Libby’s hulking infant car seat over my arm takes care of my weight-lifting, too.
Perching my sunglasses atop my head as I enter through the doors, I check to make sure my hair—a shoulder-length, highlighted bob—is somewhat presentable. I didn’t bother with makeup this morning. (I never do, unless it’s a special occasion, like a teacher conference or maybe the Pope coming to town. It’s an Episcopal church preschool, though, so thank God I don’t have to worry about that).
I pick up the boys, wrestle them into the car, and then head back to my red brick suburban home for a lunch of PB&J’s and “veggie” straws (THEY HAVE PICTURES OF VEGETABLES ON THE BAG, OKAY?). My husband, Robbie, is home at 5pm, dinner is eaten by 6pm, the kids are in bed by 8pm, and then I cozy up with either chocolate or wine (ok, maybe both) while cajoling Robbie into watching House Hunters: Where Are They Now?
I am a walking, talking, minivan-driving, Target shopping, Starbucks drinking, yoga pants wearing stereotype: The basic soccer mom in her natural habitat, the wilds of suburbia.
While I’ll be the first to laugh at my lameness, I must admit: Occasionally it gets me down.
“I’m more than this!” I want to shout at strangers passing me on the sidewalk, my double stroller charging down the street.
“I used to have an earring in my cartilage!
I read Sylvia Plath!
Sometimes I paint my sons’ toes in a passive-aggressive attempt to thwart gender stereotypes!
I listened to bluegrass before it was cool!
I, too, am interested in the Danish art of hygge!”
Jokes aside, sometimes I do feel a little, well, pegged in by my current lifestyle. And so I’ve developed an arsenal of quick fixes that can gently upset my clichés and make me feel more…me.
Maybe they’ll work for you too?
First, practice your hobbies. Whatever they might be. The danger of stereotypes is that they can be hard to break. Do something outside of that bubble, and you just might pop it. For example, I like to go on long walks while listening to podcasts—they make me feel more informed, current and give me something to talk to people about other than the letter of the day on Sesame Street.
Second, go to a thrift store. This might seem like odd advice, but the next time you’re compelled to shop at Target, redirect that urge and head to Goodwill instead. You’ll probably brush shoulders with a hipster, and feel cool by association (Wait…are hipsters cool anymore?).
But the main purpose is to go treasure hunting for something unique and special that speaks to you in a way that Target’s commercialism can’t. Sure, you might just walk away with a Threshold lamp for your kid’s room, but technically it’s not from Target so you can still feel superior when people ask you about it.
Third, get the heck away from your children. Nothing kills my effortless chic aesthetic like realizing I’m walking around with dried spit-up on my Anthropologie sweater.
Go to a bookstore, or a cafe perhaps. Bring your laptop and headphones, order a coffee, and then just mess around online for an hour while listening to Beyonce.
You’ll look (and maybe feel!) like a student, or a person with an interesting job, and no one has to know that you currently have a Cheerio stuck in your tank top.
Lastly, and most importantly, stop giving a flying flip about what other people think about you.
Embrace your basic momness.
Bring your Starbucks to soccer practice.
Drive that minivan with pride, sister.
The coolest people are cool because they don’t actually worry about making the masses happy. The only people you need to worry about making happy are yourself, your kids (ehh?), and maybe your husband if you’re feeling magnanimous.
So you do you, mama, and I’ll do me, and we’ll celebrate our stereotypes while also redefining them. And then afterward we’ll grab some coffee? I know this Starbucks that is just down the road . . .