Two women sit together on a bench in a hallway in a school, chatting animatedly together as they wait for their children to be dismissed from class. With their subtle brown eyeliner and casual lipstick and fashionable-but-not-too-high-for-daytime heels and well-matched jewelry and designer handbags and perfectly highlighted hair they look very much like certain mothers I remember from the exclusive private high school I attended on scholarship, mothers of my friends, who seemed so different from my own mother, my hurried, serious, bespectacled mother in her short hair and khakis and sensible shoes.
I sit apart from them, alone on a chair across the room, like my mother used to sit apart. Despite my own subtle brown eyeliner and fashionable coat and Nine West (on clearance!) purse and cute, if sensible, shoes. All of which I wear like a semi-opaque lacquered sheen that I feel absurdly will crack and fall away the moment I speak.
They are talking about a charity fundraiser; they are talking about their husbands' jobs; and I find myself thinking how suddenly strange it can feel to me, still, after five years, to sit in a room full of mothers and be one of the mothers in that room. How strange it is, still! To think, here I sit, as my mother sat. Past tense.
And there are those mothers, still talking as if no one else were in the room and really, they might as well talk as if no one else were in the room because I am not talking to them, am I? I am instead sitting here alone thinking about how strange I feel sitting here alone thinking. I am a stranger precisely because I am sitting alone feeling strange.
I am sitting frozen in the conviction that if I speak to them I will intrude someplace I am not wanted.
And then one of the other mothers, the well-coiffed, magazine-cover mothers, says, with emotion, "I worry so much about her starting middle school. I mean, how will people treat her? How will she find her way around such a big place? How will she ever play sports? How will she even open her locker?"
And the other nods in sympathy.
And across the room, I do too.
And I realize I fit right in here. We all do.
Everyone raising a Misfit Child is welcome on the Isle of Misfit Parents.
Next time I'll have to say hello.
If you liked this post you'll probably also like Cocoon by Amalah. And no, she didn't pay me to say that.