Co-working on the playground

Take a moment to think about your co-workers.  You entered into a similar field, some of you falling into it, some choosing it.  There are some co-workers that you love, find inspiring, and maybe even have formed a friendship with.  Some you despise, would rather not see, try to avoid.  Most, however, you think are fine.  They are part of your landscape, like the art on the office walls.  You accept them, don’t try to change them, and are grateful they are there, doing what they do.  Well, in these past 2 months as a Stay At Home Mom, I have been collecting my own colleague group of co-workers, other SAHMs that are doing their work with their children in my city.  Our offices are playgrounds, living rooms, and libraries.  Our staff meetings consist of discussing sleep schedules and discipline techniques, as well as running around like monkeys to make our “clients” laugh (okay, maybe that’s just me).
There is a uniform, which consists of jeans or other slouchy pants, a long sleeved shirt topped with some kind of zip-up sweater, and sensible shoes.  I do not adhere to this “momiform”, as I have taken to calling it, a fact that is met by my co-workers with shock and a little bit of derision.  I always tells them that it takes as much time or less for me to get into a fancy dress, a colorful button-up sweater, and tights and boots as it does for them to suit up, but I don’t think they really believe me.  They imagine me neglecting my child while I try on infinite combinations of skirts and tops, making lipstick-ringed kissy faces at myself in the mirror.  But eventually, they accept it, just like you come to terms with your wacky co-worker who sings along to “I want to know what love is” in a deep, creaky baritone while filing his reports.
Sometimes, I form a friendship with a colleague, which makes my meet-ups with them (commonly called playdates, in SAHM jargon) much more fun.  But thinking of them as co-workers has made me less distressed that I don’t fit in, that I always want to talk more about art than constipated children, that I am often considered some kind of wild exotic bird that has somehow flown into the chicken coop.  They may not be my friends, but I have friends, wonderful, supportive people who understand and celebrate me.  I don’t need that same kind of validation from my co-worker moms, because I am getting it in other places.  I can simply learn from my co-workers, and be grateful that they are there, making that next round of seesaw that much more bearable by their presence.
That’s on a good day.  On a more difficult day, when I’m irked by the parenting philosophy of one of my co-workers, and all my old stuff about not fitting in growing up is coming up in the present, I long desperately for my friends to hurry up and have babies, so we can discuss the four books I read last week, and the painting they are working on, and I can sing them the song I just wrote in my head, and we can curse and not apologize for it afterwards.
My favorite part of this whole gig is the kids.  I have always loved children, and at certain parks, when we enter, whole packs of kids run up to Olive and I, sort of indifferent to her, but glad that I am there to run after them on the monkey bars, pretending I’m an alligator that’s trying to bite their feet, or practicing our leaps together while talking about what we want for our birthdays.  In fact, sometimes (shh, don’t tell them) what I like most about seeing my co-workers is playing with their children.  But often, I learn something new about childproofing or a creative way to combat teething, or just company for the wild ride that is parenting.
So here’s to you, co-worker moms.  You may think I’m the weirdest mom on the playground, but I appreciate you letting me in to your ranks.  Anyone free for a playdate this afternoon?

image by Elly Mackay

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8 thoughts on “Co-working on the playground

  1. What a great way to look at other SAHMs! I will remember this the next time I try to talk to a parent only to find out I have more in common with their carefree child than with their cliquey crew. (I really am an aleteration nut:)) BTW: Would you like to schedule a ‘meeting’ for Wednesday? We can meet in your neck of the woods. 10 and 3 are good times for us:)

  2. this has nothing to do with what you just wrote, but …. i love elly mackay ! i spend a lot of time almost buying prints from her store on etsy.

  3. Pingback: Christine Marietta - Subject, Object, and Integrity

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