I remember that first Back to School Night of Kindergarten, sitting in those tiny little chairs with the other parents as they talked about what they wanted for their child who would also make their way through this experience of Elementary School. That one Other Mom, the one who made an impact on me. She talked about how she wanted her daughter to grow as a person, to learn, not only academic subjects, but Life Subjects, as well. She wanted her daughter to experience the world and learn that not all people were like her. To embrace differences, because that's what life was about. I remember, being so scared of Elementary School, and thinking how amazing it was that Other Parents actually thought about differences. What an amazing thing, for my child, that Other Kids might be ready to embrace his differentness.
The years went on, and Other Mom and I worked on projects for the PTA and became friends. I like her; a lot, actually. She's a great person and a great example of the kind of parent that lives in this town with me. She's nice, she cares about her community, she believes in giving back and she knows it's not all just about her and her family. She's so cool I could show her this post and she would be okay with it. And not a day goes by that I don't feel lucky and so grateful that I live in the town where I live; where people are open and accepting of differences, and they teach their kids the same. I know this city is unique in that respect, and I would never leave here or take my kids away from such an open, accepting, and diverse experience. The people here genuinely care, and I'm grateful for that. I am.
But still, we know these things; when we talk. We all know... that I am Different Mom. My kid is Different Kid. He isn't like the other kids, and when we talk to each other we are very much aware that my experience, and my child's experience, isn't the same as theirs. It doesn't make us outcasts, but we're all still thinking about it. I pick a Middle School with different priorities; my kid doesn't have friends he wants to stay with through the transition. My kid will need support to make it through the day. To find the new bathroom to hide in when he wants to escape from the crowds. To navigate a new hallway when his aides are making him work too hard. These things are hanging heavy in the air when we casually discuss where we're going next. We all know that I am Different Mom. It's okay, of course it is. But it's still there. Hanging heavy.
And yesterday? Yesterday it was her kid on the stage at that promotion ceremony, introducing herself as Student Counsel President. And it's her kid, this evening, who goes to the parties to celebrate this occasion of graduating. And it's my kid who stays home, because he has no interest in sharing this event with his peers. And it's my kid who doesn't even want to talk about what he thinks about the whole thing. And we know, as we talk, that these are our differences. And we know, as we talk, that these things will always make us different.
And tonight... I don't want to be Different Mom; I want to be like them. I want to have the kid who celebrates with his friends that he's done with Elementary school. I want to have the kid who wants to stay up all night. Tonight I mourn my differentness, the one I wasn't born into but had thrust upon me by my child who was. Tonight... I don't want to be Different Mom.
Tomorrow will be different, of course. Tomorrow the memory of promotion ceremonies and graduation class parties will fade, and I will get back to thinking about summer and planning our transition to the next part of our lives, but tonight? Tonight I want to be like them. Tonight I want to be Other Mom, too.