Who Wants To Be My Preschool Mom Pacer?

When I trained for a marathon, the most important thing I was told was to PACE myself, so that I didn’t pull a “fly and die,” which is where you start out strong and then crash somewhere before mile 26.  There are official race pacers who run the entire marathon with little flags or bright t-shirts so you can follow them and keep a steady pace.

On my own, I wanted to run too fast (mostly because I wanted the race to end so I could eat and lay down).  So, I found the pacers and followed them like my race depended on them.  Because it did.

Now, I need to find a Preschool Mom Pacer.  Same idea as above, but I need it for my brave new role as preschool mom.  With all these new people and social occasions and volunteer opportunities, I need someone to keep me from saying too much too soon, or letting my crazy hang out too far, because we are only on day 7 of what is likely to be a long-ass year.

For example, today I attended a luncheon for moms. The women were bright, funny, compassionate, and kind.  We may not have that much in common, but we have our kids and that’s enough for a Wednesday afternoon.


Because we are virtually strangers, the conversation centered on biographical details. I know that’s how polite society works, and I certainly didn’t want to violate any social codes.  However, about 5 times during the lunch I wanted to lay my head on the table and sob into my bread plate about the attack in Libya.  “The ambassador’s name was Chris Stevens.  We could all know a Chris Stevens. I went to a prom with a guy who was practically named Chris Stevens.”  (His name was Chris McCullom, but still.)

I wanted to say, “I am scared of everything, ya’ll.  Pier 1 scares me.  You all scare me.  The fact that my kid no longer needs a nap scares me. My heavy flow days scare me.  Is anyone else terrified?”

Of course I didn’t say any of that.  I pictured a pacing flag ahead of me warning me to dole out my neurosis in small doses.

I gulped my sparking water.  I reminded myself that I am here to be a mother among mothers.  “Stop thinking about international tragedies for at least 2 hours. Eat.”

So, I did.

I held back, because that’s what I know I should do.  I trusted that at some point  I will have intimates at the table — those who know I go to therapy on Fridays and love Andrew Garfield more than Ryan Gosling.  But we have to build up to that kind of friendship.


I did make one disclosure that I hope was not too much of a pacing violation.  I mentioned that during the parent interview we had before getting accepted into the school, Jeff and I were asked about our greatest fear about Sadie starting school.  My answer: I was scared of Sadie ending up in a school with a “bunch of rich bitches.”  (Or something to that effect.)  (It was an honest answer, but I recognize it may have sounded hostile in this context.)

There was some nervous laughter.  I looked for my imaginary pacer ahead of me, but she wasn’t there.  Now, I am wondering if it was too soon to reveal my fears about affluence.  Was my pacer actually behind me, wishing I would shut up and not tell stories that reveal too much about me too soon?

I think I need a pacer.

Any volunteers?  It is not a paid position, but I will say “thank you” a lot.


57 thoughts on “Who Wants To Be My Preschool Mom Pacer?

  1. I would have laughed! Well, on the one hand you want to be yourself otherwise you get stuck being bffs with Miffy and Biffy. On the other you don’t want to make large, sudden movements and come off as crazy. Clearly I have the same issue- I get nervous and end up spilling way to much info way too soon. Also I turn into a ‘one upper’ when really all I’m trying to do is show how I relate. Sigh. Relationships with mom friends can be so complicated. Maybe hand out business cards with your blog and say ‘If you like what you read, I’m the real deal. Hope you come back.’ 🙂

  2. Oh, girl. I totally get this as I am, and always have been, the queen of oversharing. I think it is wonderful that you are aware of it going into this situation. It’s one thing when we spill our guts in adult situations, but now we’re talking about your child/children’s social future. You will likely know these moms for, oh, the next 15 years or so, and you don’t want to start out on the wrong foot, shoot yourself in the foot or a multitude of other bad cliches during the first few weeks. Not that you shouldn’t be yourself. Of course you should. You just have to do it cautiously — at least at first.

    I love the idea of a pacer. Where the hell was mine when I needed her? Who am I kidding? I still need her.

    Good luck, mama!

  3. Well I WOULD have offered to be your long-distance pacer except you’re team Garfield and that simply won’t do. Jejeune, unseasoned, no wrinkles. Gimme some Gosling. Look at it this way: those who liked your comment will seek you out; those who didn’t, won’t, and then you won’t have to be friends w/them & can maybe accidentally spill merlot on their gucci-pucci dresses at the fund-raiser. Because there will be fundraisers, oh yes, and there will be blood, oh yes. And people will try to drink your milkshake. So you should tell them you ran the marathon faster than Paul Ryan and to back the fuck off. My wheat-from-the-chaff joke: “so, I just started therapy…you know, because I come from a family…”
    Full stop.
    Some people find this hysterically funny (like me and my old therapist). Others, like my dear deceased mother-in-law stare blankly wondering why I’m howling like a banshee. Ours was not an intimate relationship.

    • You. Are. The. Greatest. Remind me: why are you not my neighbor so we can hang out every day? Also, I am on team Garfield because I have a thing for Jewish boys. It’s close, but Garfield edges out.

  4. First off, you are not crazy. You are a cool chica with intensity. My strategy — find at least one or two normal people (you’d be surprised how hard that can be). I thought I found one in this lady, but she turned out to be certifiable (she is a storm hunter looking for all kinds of drama). Be. On. Guard. Hold thy tongue until you establish an ally (one who will protect you). Thankfully, I have found three normal (and potentially cool) ladies and their children seem likewise normal (we already share our concerns and fears and triumphs with one another).

    I can’t tell you how critical it is hold your tongue. Within two days, the gossip mill stormed in . . . made me think how ugly women can be. Nothing good comes out of that; and more importantly, it makes you lose focus on the goal: that your little one get adjusted to her new environment. It’s easy to get distracted by nonsense. And sign up to be room mom — the parents will come to you. But don’t sign up to be President of PTA (it is a black, black hole from what everyone tells me).

    You’re going to do great. You will be able to talk away soon, I promise. But in the world of school, be on guard a little.

  5. Unfortunately I can’t be your pacer – pretty sure I need my own. Everything about this post was so me. Yesterday morning on the way to take Addie to school, I listened to Hillary Clinton’s speech about Libya. I was sobbing hysterically and couldn’t stop when we pulled up to park at school. Another mom was there, getting her kids out of her car. I just sat in the car sobbing for five minutes before I could pull it together and take Addie in.

    Playgroup was terrible for me because I kept wanting to let my crazy out and I kept feeling like a fool every time I did. How many awkward glances can one person be accepted to take??

    • Yes!!!!! This. You. Yes!!! If I found my way at our old law firm I know I can to it again. But I am older and more afraid and a mom. So it’s harder in some ways. Thank you for this comment.

  6. i think I need a life pacer… my mouth is consistently getting me in trouble! Your comment about the “rich bitches” is precisely something I would say. And then I would obsess over it for the next five days, worrying it was rude and that the other moms are mentally deleting me from their playgroup calendar.
    Plus, Garfield over Gosling? Girl. That’s one thing we will never agree on…

    • I know! Everyone thinks that’s nuts. I get it. Also, though, everyone loves Gosling and it was getting crowded in his fan club. Less competition for Garfield.

      And I hope I only obsess for 5 days. So far I am totally obsessing but it’s only been 18 hours.

  7. Stop beating yourself up. You are who you are, and the sooner you stop trying to change to fit in with others, the happier you’ll be. Embrace your different-ness. It’s what makes you YOU–a special woman. You weren’t born to be a PTA Mom and that’s okay.

  8. It is just like “Canterbury Tales” in that you are going to run into every type of personality around a kitchen table for coffee.

    You need to learn to pick and choose, so it is just like high school but you now have the wisdom and strength (and therapist) to pick the ones that you want to be friends with and the others will be passing acquaintances. The tricky part is to remain kind to everyone (I’m being serious here) because inevitably your children are going to have playmates that have moms that aren’t necessarily who you are “friends” with but must remain “friends” with…get it. It is like you come full circle but will be easier this time! The rumour mill is no smaller than high school–just remember to rise above it. 🙂

    • I am loving the reference to Canterbury Tales. So literary and English! And you are right about the personality thing; I can see that already. I think that’s a good thing. I am grateful I have more tools now and I already have great friends, so I am not as vulnerable as in the past. I do see that it’s possible that Sadie may love some kids who have parents I don’t know or don’t click with. So the “being kind” part is critical. As always. Thanks for mentioning that.

  9. I too over shared last night at the parent kindergarten orientation. My mouth wouldn’t shut up. I don’t know what happened to me. I just kept going on and on. I’m pretty sure my kid won’t be getting calls for play dates!!! Ugh!

    • I sent that by accident. You know, there has to be room for over sharers and those who clam up. I am sure of it. It’s just so stressful to trust this process. I’m struggling with trust.

      • haha!! I told them about how my son came home on the first day of Kindergarten and when I asked him to tell me what went on during the day he said he wasn’t allowed to. The teacher swore him to secrecy. Everything at Kindergarten is Top Secret. I thought this was hilarious. Everyone else laughed nervously and said their kids told them every detail. Great…now both my son and I look nuttier than a fruitcake!! Next time I’m clamming up!!!

  10. Team up with me, and we can balance each other out! I’m so afraid of over-sharing that I say nothing and I think people end up thinking I’m unfriendly. I have a really hard time recognizing at what point it’s appropriate to share anything more than mere platitudes, which means that I rarely make a very deep connection with anyone. And I find that it can be just as lonely on a school playground as a mom as it can be as a kid.

    Also, I did NOT know marathons had pacers. That makes me think I could actually run one!

    • You could definitely run a marathon. Like Paul Ryan, but faster. Ha! Also, this reminds me that maybe the quiet moms are just nervous about blabbing and not uninterested. Groups are tough.

  11. Sorry. Can’t be your pacer. I tend to spill my guts.
    When I tell my daughter what’s on my mind, she often warns, “Be careful who you say that to, Mom.”

  12. Yes!!! I love your honesty and I bet the other moms did too. You’re the best, pacer or not. I’m happy to take on your non-paid position (because I love to over-volunteer then feel resentful!). I have no doubt the other moms loved you! Who wouldn’t?

  13. You’ll find the Mom’s you relate to! I have to say, I do a fair amount in the classroom, library, go on the fieldtrips. But I never go to PTA meetings or coffees or luncheons. I just can’t relate to 90% of the women. It’s ok!

    • Agree with Stacie (wholeheartedly). Keep my nose in my kid’s world, not the PTA. Our PTA President (I kidd you not) wore a tiara at the first meeting. I know she was trying to be cheeky but that one thing shut it down for me.

  14. If I’d have been there and heard you say that, I would have known that I’d found my next BFF. You are who you are: loving, neurotic, caring, truthful, wonderful and REAL. Anyone you offended you don’t need anyway, and there will be some there who will remember your comment and knew in that instant they needed to become your friend.

  15. Awww, I knew all those things about you already. Warms my heart! I would love to be your pacer but it will be hard without physically being in class with you. Where the hell are all the normal people? None of them are in my son’s preschool, I can tell you that.

  16. If I have a pacer, they’re looking back at me and beckoning me to come on already! Because I have the opposite problem. I’m so scared of sounding stupid or saying the wrong thing that I come across as snobby because I just don’t speak. My daughter is 13 and I’m still this way. I swear I’m not a snob – I’m just horribly socially awkward! Cam I come sit with you, Outlaw Mama? You can talk and I’ll listen and eventually warm up and start talking, promise!

    • Perfect. I will run my mouth like a jackass and you can swoop in when you warm up and anything you say will be fantastic because it least it won’t be me talking. We’re gonna make a great team!

      • Woohoo! We’ll be jackasses together when I finally warm up because I don’t always have that switch that tells my mouth not to spit out whatever my brain comes up with. TEAMWORK. (I also have a fear of those “rich bitches”. Always have, always will.)

      • Totally! We might even overthrow it and make it make sense!

        Incidentally, the PTA moms at my daughter’s school scare me to death. None of them have an out of the house job. Which, cool. They can afford it and it’s their choice. (Wish I could afford it, honestly. I’d make jewelry to sell all day long. And bake. Oh how I’d bake.) Instead ALL they do is practically live at the school. They’re always volunteering for this, that, and the other, dripping in diamond jewelry and micromanage ALLTHETHINGS. These women are literally spending 60+ hours a week doing stuff at/for the school. And they’re ALWAYS super perky. Like, it’s creepy how perky they are. I’ve had them perkily follow me around asking what I’m going to sign up to volunteer for. Um, nothing. Please let me go back to reading my book and hiding from you. I’m scared of you and too socially awkward to speak. I’ll come hide by you and we’ll continue being jackasses!

  17. Dear Outlaw,

    What a lucky woman you are to have so many suppoting women who appear to be your peers. As an old guy with 3 grown men around your age for children I can say the biggest problem with school moms is their drive to be stage mothers. They think being a mother is a test of their virtuousness. They make it a competition. And the person they are competing with is some imagined ideal. Someone perfect.

    What I know from my own experience is that the best mothers of children, of any age, were the ones who wanted more than anything else for the chip(ten) to be themselves. This takes courage because you really want to protect them from any harm and make sure they have the greatest opportunity and and and until they are assured the child will never suffer the pain the other has.

    Sorry. Too bad. Life is a struggle. Believe it or not, that is one of our greatest gifts. That’s what breeds progress and community and anything important to us that needs to get better. So, be you, Outlaw. You’re smart, beautiful, caring and all kinds of other wonderful things. And when you trust that that is enough, you will be able to share your truth, instead of holding back until is explodes into an over-sharing barrage.

    You’re terrific. Own it. Everyone in your life will benefit. But not nearly as much as you will.

  18. It is difficult trying to make real connections with other moms in school settings, and I second the notion about keeping your mouth shut for as long as possible. Believe me, Elementary school doesn’t get any easier, only harder. But I have found some like-minded, down to earth, normal mommies that I hang with at my daughter’s school, after careful selection. Anytime I feel badly that I’m not part of the Range Rover in-crowd, I remind myself that my daughter is here for the education, not for me to be popular. As long as she has friends, it’s all good. And who wants to be friends with the yucky, fake mommies anyway? 🙂

    • I know what you are saying. I do have the illusion it will get easier, but that’s the same crap I think about all aspects of parenting. I am usually wrong. Education and socialization. In that order.

  19. Raises hand…I will be your pacer.

    First, we will cry about Libya and Syria before we go in. We will nod thoughtfully and make notes about who says what and in what tone. We will gravitate toward the dissheveled because they have bigger fish to fry.

    Most importantly, we will schedule playdates as mom interviews. We will only associate with parents and kids we like after one-on-one time.

    Biggest hint about preschool? Start with the dads. They tend to be more honest, less judgy, and less likely to remember gaffes. Plus, other moms somehow avoid dads, especially SAHDs, who tend to be awesome, funny, and a good entry barometer of the room’s mood.

    If you’re tempted, at any time, to overshare, smile, excuse yourself, and go tell the bathroom mirror your thoughts.

    Just check the stalls first.

      • I’m here to help, C.

        P.S. 5ks annoy me. Let’s do a 10k or a half together? My secret to pacing over 10k? Run as hard as you want for 10 minutes, then walk a minute. Makes it hard to kill yourself (as long as you’ve done the miles to prepare.)

  20. Pingback: Weekend Pacing: Are Two Pumpkin Patches Too Many? | Outlaw Mama

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