I was done feeling like I had to be someone I’m not or apologize for not driving a giant fancy foreign car or not having a basement full of deluxe toys. The first year of preschool broke me down, and I was D-O-N-E with the “I’m not enough” show.
Standing at the reception for the new school we’ll start in the fall, I realized it was impossible for me to be anyone besides myself. I was willing to “meet and greet”, but the only person I was introducing as myself was the real deal me.
Once I decided that, of course the universe started to fuck with me, because the universe and I? We have a very dysfunctional relationship.
“My husband is in neuroscience and I teach doctoral classes in linguistics,” a mother with kind eyes and worn clogs said. The old me would have sized her up as a mega smarty pants and then played up my intellectual side with a comment about Kant or supply-side economics. Old me would have definitely worked in the fact that I have both a Master’s degree and a JD.
In other words, old me was
a douche insecure.
But new me was at the helm so I said something else. “My husband is over there talking to his ex-girlfriend we just ran into randomly by the lemonade, so this is totally awkward, but funny awkward, not darkly awkward as it would be if it was one of my ex’s.”
Worn clogs and gigantic IQ mom laughed. “I could see how that would be awkward,” she sympathized.
Fuck Kant– what did he know about preschool receptions and ex-girlfriends? I had just laid eyes on a woman with incredible hair and darling children who was my immediate predecessor. Damn if I wasn’t going to talk it through with anyone who would listen.
Suddenly, I saw my 2-year old dive into a pool of mud. “Excuse me,” I sputtered and walk-ran across the lawn. I tried not to notice how Jeff’s conversation was going. Is there a classy way to interrupt their conversation to let her know that Jeff and I have tons and tons of sex? I wondered.
Douche me wanted to ditch the real me bullshit and go for some hard-core image management.
“It’s nice to meet you,” I said when I finally met her. We engaged in innocuous banter about neighborhoods and traffic patterns. I never found an opening for a description of my
fictitious strenuous love life or for little vignettes designed to assure myself her that I was sophisticated but down-to-earth, smart but approachable, and secure but not cocky.
We were swept into different conversation streams before I could fail at my resolution to be authentic in all situations (including those involving my husband’s ex).
As the party dissipated, I gathered up my muddy children. Then, I had a moment of clarity as I took a mental snapshot of my life: I saw my two kids fighting over a balloon in our mini van that has enough crumbs in it to feed a small sub-Saharan nation. I saw my husband squinting at the GPS to find the best route home. I smelled that my son probably just crapped his pants after I got him settled in his seat. I saw a grass stain on my favorite skirt.
All of this is yours, real me pointed out. This is what you get for being yourself.
Why the hell would I be anyone else?