My son is over the moon. This weekend, we get to go camping with about 30 other families from his preschool. Sounds like fun, right?
I have been preparing for weeks. This year, I decided to go ahead and buy us sleeping bags and a tent and to take the opportunity to simultaneously upgrade our emergency preparedness kit by getting things to cook with (I think my original plan was to just put the soup cans directly on the camp stove). I have lists of supplies, a menu, and a travel scrabble kit.
What I can’t prepare for is something more intangible. Can I be honest here? It is sometimes really hard being the single mom in the bunch. I should be used to it by now, I suppose, but I am not.
Occasionally, I am aware of being treated or regarded differently because of my singleness. Sometimes it’s pity, sometimes mistrust…especially on the part of other moms. This makes it hard to just hang out with other families, as there’s this weird vibe like I’m after any good dad that might be around.
Mostly, though, this discomfort is my own. I can almost hear that old Sesame Street song in my head:
One of these things is not like the others.
One of these things doesn’t belong.
Can you tell me which thing is not like the others before I finish this song?
So, the whole pack-way-too-much-in-the-car-to-go-sleep-in-the-dirt part of it aside, I should be excited to be going on this camping expedition. And I am. Really.
I am also dreading it. Other families hang out regularly and already have plans to collaborate on meals. Other families (except one with two moms) have dads who will be there for the Father’s Day activity on Sunday. Other parents will trade off for trips to the loo and showers.
And then there’ll be AJ and me. Which I actually like, in a lot of ways. Except when we’re in a crowd of “real” families. Then, whether I should or not, I can feel like the wallflower in the ugly dress at the prom.