I am the room mother who shows up in a Vegas dress

I'm writing this as I shiver under the covers at a resort in North Carolina. (That photo is not from NC but from the balmy, wonderful motherland of FL, a few weeks ago.)

But back to chillyville, NC. Where people talk about golf. A lot of golf. All the time. I should have figured this out, when, this morning in Birmingham, I heard a discussion about some minute rule of play, which I felt went on for a prolonged time. 

I didn't realize that I was heading to Golf City, U.S.A. 

Which is fine. I'm here for something different. But sitting in a dining hall tonight, hearing *wacky caddy stories* and that time that Bob was *so close* I was reminded of this common thread that keeps coming up, even now, at 37.

The other.

Last week I threw a surprise birthday party for Nate's second grade teacher. It was a month after her birthday (we only found out the dates after it had passed). A room mother and organizer, I showed up to the school with bagged carrots and cheese, and flowers that sloshed around in my car, spilling water as I cursed. That morning I'd thought about what kind of bags proper mothers would bring -- some kind of insulated totes. I quickly glanced into our cluttered garage, like I'd find the right thing, and then just dumped everything into an oversized Tory Burch tote that I bought while I probably should have been doing something else.

Before the party that day, pain ran through my body, a piercing, never-ending tension as I sat behind my desk and tended to the stories. Shards of a car accident that pop up as I turn my head to greet someone who comes into my office. 

It's half a victory I remembered the bagged carrots in the fridge.

When I got to the classroom I felt, as I so often do, the odd man out. I'd worn a silk Catherine Malandrino dress that day because I felt like it, but didn't think through the implications of not being able to bend down properly to disperse the cheese squares and felt like a damn fool because the other mothers knew how to command a classroom and how to bring proper containers.

I don't know what proper containers are. I favor cocktail dresses, even when there aren't cocktails (though there were some the last time I wore this one, in Vegas.)

I know more about corralling stories, and ideas, and talking to a room full of people, than knowing how to talk to a group of seven-year-olds. There it is.


I will never be the room mother who knows about containers, though I'm thankful for the ones who do. They awesome, as is any parent who shows up.

Over the weekend I was reminded that no one expects me to know how to do anything, and that the things I do know how to do are pretty awesome. 

She quickly and lovingly dispersed my neurosis. "Did you show up Erin? That's all Nate will remember." She added, generously, that I'm the mom that teaches writing classes, who jumps on planes and travels, and knows how to go out into the world as a writer and editor and a leader among grown-ups. And that my son is watching. 

So I stay up late the night before I leave, sharing a hot chocolate with Nate, editing stories and sending emails, and putting dishes into the dishwasher until close to midnight. I stand in his room early the next morning, saying a prayer and tussling his hair.

And when I drive to the airport I'm confident in my skin and clothes, knowing that I'm right where I need to be.