I smiled to myself as I walked out of my favorite bagel shop with only a coffee in hand and saw my vehicle. There was my Saturn Vue, complete with a Christian school magnet adorning the back hatch. Commuter mug, SUV, private school. If you saw me hop in the car and speed off to work, you would assume I was the epitome of a suburban soccer mom who has it all.
Except you would be totally wrong.
I bought only coffee that morning, because I am watching my budget, and my weight, and had to cut back on bagels. And really, I should have had plenty of time to make my own coffee at home, because I don’t have a husband to iron shirts for or children to get ready for school. A teacher friend gave me the car sticker to her academy because she had an extra one.
And let’s be honest, I don’t even like soccer.
Whether anyone sees my mug, my vehicle, and my bumper magnet and creates a cliché out of my life, I’ll probably never know. But whether I do that to other people, whether I hear their accent or see their manicured nails or even watch the way they speak to their husbands and assume I know everything about them, is a question I have been asking myself since.
Life certainly does seem a lot simpler if I can just lump people, especially women, into a few categories. There would be the recent graduate, the new wife, the young mother, the soccer mom (of course), the working mom, the young single, the life-time single, the empty-nester, the grandmother, the widow, the divorcee, the retiree. See, simple.
Simple in the same way that junior high is simple, that is.
Because every time I look at a fellow sister and make assumptions about her based on just one thing, I have devalued and demeaned the complexities of her life. Even if I can guess a lot about a woman just because of her appearance, her life holds no less value, and is no more simple, than mine.
I also might miss out on a great opportunity for friendship if I assume that I have nothing in common with someone in a category different than my own. I have several friends who, like me, are single, have no kids, and work full-time. But I also have friends who are married with children, friends who are retired and widowed. Friends who work at jobs all day, and friends who work at home all day. Aging friends who live with their children, and friends whose junior high kids still think I’m cool.
Not that I care about stuff like that.
In some ways, I wish my life were just a cliché, that I was a soccer mom who had it all. I never dreamed at age 40 that I would still be single, that cancer would leave me unable to bear children, or that I would still sometimes struggle to make ends meet.
But even if I were a soccer mom, my life would still be complicated and difficult at times, filled with the twists and turns that make us all interesting and beautiful.
Plus, I would probably have to actually watch soccer and like it. And at this point in life, it just doesn’t seem worth it.
By Charity Singleton of Wide Open SpacesLeave a Comment