Written by: Andrea Angileri
There was a scene from The Real Housewives of New Jersey that you probably missed. It was somewhere between the cat fights and the mending, it was the morning that Teresa Guidice drove her girls to school. Coffee mug in hand and make-up on and in her pajamas. These were mighty nice pajamas, but they were pajamas. I could somewhat hear moms across the land with their ‘You Go Girl!’s or their ‘OMG get dressed!’, because that’s how far apart our mommyworld goes. As I watched the scene I was able to reflect on the fact that with a looming trial and prison sentence, the last thing on Teresa’s mind would be what she would be wearing the school drop off, because her priorities had totally been shifted. Teresa would never have to get out of her SUV, but many moms do. Pajama bottom moms.
When I take my children to school I am not competing in any beauty pageants. I force myself out of the Christmas dog pajama bottoms, but am likely to wear something of its cousin called ‘sweats’. On work days I will have my trusty black slacks with sensible black shoes and a shirt that says ‘Fine, I’ll go to work’. My mommyhood shows in the slight static in my hair and the subtle bleach stains somewhere on my person. But today, ahh…today is Friday and not a work day. This morning I have on faded jeans with black leggings underneath which peek through the ‘not so fashionable’ hole blown out in the knees. My sweatshirt is over-sized because it is my husband’s and it is sports-related. It reminds me of sleep deprived days where I’d stumble into a Walmart and the person behind me would start talking about the sports team of the shirt I was wearing and I would have to smile and nod because I had no idea what happened in that game, this is just a post maternity shirt. My hair keeps my head warm, but is not all that superior to my bed headed preschoolers.
My morning moods range. I’m not always going out of my way to talk to anybody in this daily survival crusade a.k.a. ‘School drop off’, but there is something about Friday which adds some pep in my step. I start talking to preschool moms and just rest in the knowing that I’m so close to stepping out of this beautiful but strange period of time into the next beautiful but strange period of time, that I can just focus on all our similarities of being a mother to a preschooler and dismiss the differences.
Today I have to ask the teacher about a book accidentally brought back that belongs to our house. I have hundreds of ignored books, but there is something endearing about this book. I’ve had it forever and it reminds me of laughing with my oldest when he was so small and the other kids enjoy it as well.
“Oops, we accidentally gave it to a parent who claimed it,” says the teacher assistant.
I shake it off because it’s just a book, but as the assistant mentions it to the parent that it was returned to, I smile.
I smile because it is a mom that I have never had a conversation with, but for some odd reason God had put it in my heart to talk to her in the last couple weeks. I wasn’t really sure why. Preschool drop off for this particular school means standing in a congested hallway in the morning waiting for doors to open. There is no really good place to stand, but we just shift around. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we don’t. We are parents and grandparents just sort of loped together for a common purpose.
“We have the same book at our house,” she laughs off.
I start a conversation with her and am surprised at the ease of our exchange. Was she related to so and so? She wasn’t sure because though she was born in the area, she spent many many years in a warmer climate. The cold weather is a big discomfort to her. I confess that it’s hard for me to take the dogs out when it’s cold and she says it’s almost impossible for her to play in the snow with her kids. As we walk to our cars I find out that she definitely has a handful more children than the one she drops off to preschool (as mentioned in conversation) and she tells me that she lost a baby to SIDS not too long ago.
It was then that I knew why God had wanted me to talk to her, to express some sort of compassion and gain some insight about things. At first glance you see a somber mother in pajama bottoms, whose hair is still wet from a last minute shower, but upon further exploration you see so much more. For this mother, mornings are tough. Tougher than mine. It’s not only about taking the kids to school, but about mourning the loss of her baby and still having energy left to respond to the needs of her other children. It’s about watching the season turn cold and longing to return to her warmer climate. I notice that today she is wearing jeans, which contrasts from her typical pajama bottoms. Maybe she has errands to run or maybe she just needed to do that for herself today.
Today I am reminded to be extra cautious about where my mind goes when we try to hierarchy people by their pant wear. That when we are tempted to judge a book by a cover our first glance hunches may be blasted away and we may become Pajama Bottomed Out.