So ... the event.
About a month ago, I received an email from the mall near our church, congratulating me on being one of 10 finalists in their "Hardest-Working Mom" competition. I figured it was spam, and deleted it.
A dear friend, adopted grandmother to my children, called me. "You're a finalist!"
Apparently, she and another sweet older lady, had conspired to enter me in this contest, writing a lovely essay for why I should be named the Hardest-Working Mom. What love. What a honor.
Except I'm not.
I'm not saying that as some kind of blushing, modest, "Who, little ole me?" kind of thing. I am SO not even remotely the hardest working mom. When my own mom heard the news, she requested the phone number of the mall so she could call and set them straight. "Have you seen her laundry room?"
I'm not the hardest-working mom; I would hesitate to even refer to myself as a hard working mom. That's just not my priority. I'm a slacker Mom, and damn proud of it. I'm a fan of Free-Range Kids, responding to any child of mine who says, "I'm hungry!" with "Okay, go make yourself a sandwich," and sending the kids outside to play. I'm a huge fan of Boredom and Benign Neglect, finding that together, they foster all kinds of creative mayhem. I have been known to say, "Shoo" to my kids when in the middle of a book.
I sincerely admire the hard-working Moms, but I'm not one. I am, however, a cancer mom, a point made in my friend's essay. "Cancer mom" trumps logic and reason.
The Husband laughed when I told him about the contest, quickly sobering up to say, "Oh, but dear, you are." He is a smart man. Horrible liar, too.
"You have to do it, though," he said. I knew it. My dear friend was so happy. And it had come from a place of love. Beer goggles ain't got nothing on love. She knows I work my butt off at school, she knows I love my children fiercely, ergo, hardest-working mom.
So, I showed up for the photo shoot. Oh my. 9 polished women, what the Brits call "yummy mummies" and the Yanks call something far cruder. And me.
It was explained to us. There would be a ceremony! In the middle of the food court! With a fashion show! That we would be in! Wearing our own outfit!
Whimpering, I requested some guidance as to what to wear. "Oh, just whatever you're comfortable in!" the coordinator said brightly.
Okay. So, yoga pants and I don't know ... "Should I wear my 'Does this pulpit make my butt look big?' tshirt, or my 'F--- Cancer' tshirt?" I asked the Husband and a Knowledgeable Friend.
The Knowledgeable Friend uncharacteristically recommended wearing yoga pants, bunny slippers, my F--- Cancer tshirt and a tiara. The Husband cheered that idea on.
Clothing aside, when I thought about the event, it made me feel a little sick. Society loves making moms compete -- working/SAHM, breastfeeding/formula ... heck, even how we birth our babies has become a competition. Would I have felt better about the competition if I didn't feel on the losing end?
"The thing is," I said to The Husband, "the only way to get put in this competition is to be at the mall in the first place. And most of the women there said their husbands submitted them. Who's going to submit the name of the single mom?" He agreed, but seemed a little bemused at the effect this was having on me.
(I must confess, in a moment of frantic insecurity/lunacy, I wondered if I could build a Habitat House, mentor an underprivileged child, and coach my daughter's soccer team, all in one weekend. But none of my kids play soccer, apart from trying to see who can kick a ball over the neighbor's fence and into their pool. And I had three papers due the next week.)
I guessed I'd just have to be me.
So I dressed in black slacks and a black shirt, with my big UU pendant. I chatted with my fellow contestants, several of whom were Junior Leaguers. I made some good contacts, since I'm organizing a St. Baldrick's event for next September. When I told them that I'd be shaving my head, their eyes got very big. When I said I'd be contacting them to see if they'd be involved, their faces went white. When I assured them I'd wouldn't be asking them to shave their heads, they were suddenly quite amenable to helping.
I didn't win, no surprise there. Disappointing to me was the fact that neither the Hispanic mom who works as a waitress AND volunteers for an inner-city program nor the African-American mom who works a 70 hour a week job at a car dealership, has 3 kids, plus is a foster Mom, won. But they were all nice people.
We stopped for ice-cream on the way home, our family tradition after any one of us incurs honor. After we got the kids in bed, The Husband went to the grocery store to get stuff for the next day's lunches. When he returned home, he said, "I get it."
It was about 9:00 pm. At the store, he'd run into a woman he knew from a previous job. She's still there, doing accounts payable from 8-5. And she was at the store, her second job. She has two kids. She was cheerful, as always, wanted to know how he was doing, encouraging him to stop by and tell everyone hello.
Yep. She's not just the Hardest Working Mom, she's an Amazon Warrior Princess.