This post is part of the series P.T.A. : Parenting Through the Apocalypse (my occasionally fictional life.)
Every morning, she stands in front of my daughter’s elementary school oozing nonchalant self-confidence. Chatting and laughing with other moms. I have no idea who she is. She’s sipping coffee from a ceramic mug. Her hair is thrown into something resembling a ponytail. She is wearing a suede jacket and pajamas bottoms.
Yes, I occasionally will walk the dog, late at night with a coat thrown over my PJs. I feel very much the New Yorker. The street outside our apartment is our backyard.
But walking my kid to school in full day light, wearing pajamas? That is far beyond me. These are not yoga pants that you could sleep in, if the laundry wasn’t done. They are not even the paisley palazzos that my daughter once inquired how I knew they were pants and not pajamas.
“Because they have pockets,” I responded. “Pants have pockets.”
The real reason I know they’re pants and not pajamas is that I bought them in the clothing department at Anthropologie, not the sleepwear section. But this woman is wearing full-on pink and navy, polka-dot, flannel jammies.
In my fantasy, the hardwood floors of her apartment are littered with partially-completed art projects and unvacuumed rugs. Her sink is overflowing with dirty dishes, but there are fresh baked cookies on the butcher block counter and a pot of green tea.
She fully embraces being the messy mom.
I’m the messy mom who apologizes for the state of her apartment, even though I just spent half an hour cleaning before your kid came over for the playdate.
Nobody has ever accused me of being a neat freak, but parenthood has brought a new level of mess into my life.
Sometimes, I’m at friend’s house and I think, “Where is your clutter? Just the books in my house would destroy your apartment.”
But I try not to judge. Too often when I have silently pursed my lips at another woman’s perceived failing, I have found my future self grappling with the same defect.
When I was younger and childless, I used to wonder how my friends with kids could exist in a universe crunchy, stickiness. Now, I know. Thirty minutes after mopping the kitchen floor, the cat will throw up or the Cheerios and ice cream will land with a crash.
I see-saw between embracing the mess and waging war on it. Most often, I give up on both and live with the guilt.
Today, I did something I’ve never done before: I walked my daughter to school in my pajamas.
Not my flannel pajamas with teacups on them, but the heather grey ones that everyone else thinks are sweat pants. But I knew. Next time, I’ll bring my “Kinky Friedman for Governor” coffee mug.