I was at the gym yesterday and was surprised by the judgments that I made of a fellow exerciser. The woman standing across from me was the very definition of the stereotypical stay at home mom, poor thing. She and others like her are the very reason that I have always been so resistant to holding that title.
Her clothes were mismatched, and she had clearly neglected removing a spot on her shirt from either a runny nose (presumably her child’s) or breakfast (probably her own). I think my condescension was visible as I looked at her and counted my blessings that I was wearing a new shirt and had put some thought into what I would wear that day, even to the gym.
Her hair was haphazardly thrown back into a ponytail with a clearly-purchased-from-the-drugstore elastic headband to hold back her seemingly unkempt bangs. I fear that I felt a little “Holier than though” as I thought “I sure am glad I just had my hair done.”
Hanging out of her bag, I saw the key belonging to her dreadful minivan. “Sucker” I thought. “You’ve really given up all traces of things that you enjoy, haven’t you?”
Yes, she was the very example of why I would not let myself become a stereotypical stay at home mom. You know, those women whose conversations cannot seem to leave sleep challenges and picky eaters, or even worse, gush corny sentiments about their oh-so-adorable-daughters first steps.
Not me, man. I am cool. I converse about international politics as though I know what I am talking about, and jam to Dave Matthews Band with my son. I only drive a minivan because it is practical, not because I want to. And I put on clothes,real clothes, every single day. I led a fairly adventurous and exciting life prior to having children, and being a mom does not define me.
She and I have nothing in common. She probably thinks being at home all day without intelligent conversation is “cute”, and is likely even grateful for it. She probably has dinner waiting for her lucky son of a gun husband when he comes home from work, and greets him with a pleasant “Hello Dear, how was your day?”
My feelings of apathy toward this fellow exerciser grew a bit more sympathetic as I watched her struggle to walk a mere few miles on the tread mill.
Then, the strangest thing happened. She started copying me. I mean, as though we were six years old. Every single move I made, she did the same. I pushed the stop button, and so did she. I got off the treadmill, and so did she. As I walked toward her she came toward me. Finally, as I approached “her”, I realized what was happening; I nearly bumped into my own reflection.
So I had become her after all.
Or, she wasn’t who I thought she was.