The mums who intimidate me at the school gates


I'm about to start my second term as a school mum. I've gotta say the boy has adapted far better than me. A lot has changed, unlike nursery you're supposed to get to school on time, if possible before it starts. If you have a late night or a craving for pancakes you can't dawdle until you feel like leaving the house. And another thing, although I'm grateful for the free childcare, school finishes mid afternoon and there are all these days they call 'holidays', when they won't take him. There's been a lot of adjustments but the biggest has been the jungle known as the playground. Twice a day I find myself hovering in the shadows of the climbing frame, eyes darting around behind my sunglasses, not knowing where to put myself. The playground is divided into tribes, through careful observation I think I have catergorised each one and they all scare me.

Career Mums - Not women who work, women who make mothering their job. They arrive early and have morning meetings by the gates, I overhear them chatting confidently about charity events and the parent teacher association - things I meant to put in my diary. When they leave I assume it's to check on stew in the slow cooker or stock up on crafting supplies.

Professional Mums - These mums are working and also werkin' it. They race to the gates in make up and heels. Their energy communicates much business and importance. Often they are on their phones, I confess that I am intimidated by people who take phone calls before lunch, it reminds me that the early bird catches the worm and I haven't had a worm in a while. 

Young Mums - So bouncy, so full of life. So young.

Sporty Mums - Have either completed or are about to begin a session of something energetic. I try not to get to close because the endorphins can be overpowering. Even in cold weather I can sense the Lycra under her heavy coat. These women have so many gifts - time, energy, waistlines - I'm not sure what we would have in common. 

DGAF Mums - Don't really fit into any of the above groups and therefore categorised as not giving a toss about assimilation. They sometimes wear leather, tend to have red painted lips and sunglasses, you just know they were the cool girls at school. Their kids have hip names and confident mini swaggers, whatever they're doing in between school hours is nobody's damn business. 

And there are dads of course but they don't fall prey to my assessments. Maybe because I find it harder to compare myself to men, probably because I have accepted societal prejudices that any man doing any childcare gets to do so without scrutiny. 

I spoke to my friend about my uncomfortable drop off experience and she asked me which of the groups I fell into. 

'Well obviously, I'm in none of them. I'm the weird loner Mum.' She thought about this for a minute and pointed out that I often wear leggings (because comfort) and I mostly wear sunglasses (because eye bags) and sometimes I'm rushing off to a meeting (because bills) and from time to time I collar another parent to ask about the Harvest Festival or the next Parents Evening (because I never, ever put anything in my diary). And really, to another mum I could look like any of the mothers I've listed and the mothers I've listed could be feeling exactly like me. This doesn't mean I've got over my playground fear but I'm taking steps to conquer it. I'm gonna look up more this term, make eye contact, maybe bust out a smile or two and give me five or six years and I might feel completely at home. 

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7 comments

  1. Ahh! Give it time! The playground is so intimidating even for parents. I bet people look at you and put you in a category/tribe too. hehehe It took me a good year to make friends in the playground. Myself and my 3 friends were all loners when our kids were 4/5 years old, we got talking and our kids are all due to take their GCSE's this year. There is hope x

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  2. This made me chuckle as you’d probably think i’m a Career Mum if you saw me in the playground as I’d probably be sticking a PTA notice up about the quiz night or something when I’m fact I’m also listening in to a conference call on my earphones and filling in the homework diary I forgot with the other hand! We are all just winging it, most of the time we women wear many hats!

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  3. I really liked this post. Whilst I don't have children yet I can really relate to this post from my own school days!

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  4. Haha, this made me chuckle. I think I'm a little bit of everything too - except perhaps the young mums. I'm afraid at 40, that boat has sailed...

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  5. I'm definitely the loner mom. I have no time for clicks so I stick to myself. But while we do have these here in my town they aren't as open. I have had some trying experiences while on field trips and such but I mostly stick to the few moms who know me or I talk to the teachers lol. I usually like the teachers better anyway.

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  6. Ah the school mums - its a minefield isn't it? I'm lucky to have some good friends I've made through the school but I'm not sure which mum I am!

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  7. Haha it's like being back at high school again isn't it. I'm defiantley a looser mum

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