Molly had passed the first hurdle of two dinner dates with the couple. Her boyfriend Bran was beside her, but she was under no illusions about who was being evaluated. These people were his best friends and Molly liked them..cautiously.
She had tried to explain to him that she was a parent and the “other woman”. The way she would be judged was on a very different scale than what he was used to. Single white-collar men without children had very little to do with single moms that dated men that weren’t quite single or known for their smart choices in women. Please see Exhibit A, his current separation and divorce.
Suffice to say, they didn’t expect the best choices from him at this point and here I was, a possibly asinine choice…with a kid. Who knew what kind of crazy he had invited into their home. A general level of caution (at the very least) was just common sense. Additionally Molly was not necessarily likable, she was polarizing at best. People either really liked her or…they really didn’t. Personally, Molly was perfectly at peace with this reality but it was a fact that terrified her for her daughter’s sake.
It wasn’t even his oldest friend Aiden, but his wife Mia that was the real power (and therefore concern) though Bran didn’t seem to recognize how this all worked. The invitation to have Molly’s daughter come with her hadn’t come until Mia had met her and decided Molly wasn’t a total psycho.
Mia was excellent at playing what Molly termed The Mommy Game and was, if not the center, a key player in her community’s parenting culture. She hosted gatherings, doled out smart advice and participated in all of the school events with a grace Molly found completely baffling and impossible to emulate. To Molly this was like doing magic tricks while performing death-defying feats of skill and bravery.
Molly liked Mia. She was the kind of mother she greatly admired. Kind and heavily invested in her children, she was still down to earth and intelligent. She seemed to be her own person, which many mothers seemed to lose within the confines of the title “mommy”.
As a rule, she didn’t trust these kind of women (no matter how much she liked them), because she couldn’t tell if they were real friends or not. She couldn’t tell if some small infraction would put her (and more importantly her child) into the “Do Not Touch” category. As a rule she avoided the whole game because nothing good came of it, she had learned this the hard way. In this arena she felt outmatched and defenseless. Molly just tried to not make waves. Her daughter was the moon and the stars to her and that was enough. She’d rather be standoff-ish than a pariah, which could happen surprisingly quickly in the world of Mommy Land. This way she wouldn’t ruin anything for her daughter.
Rarely was it worth wading into the pool but Molly had found herself trying this time. Yes, these were important people in Bran’s life but there was more to it, which made it even scarier for her.
The couple’s surety and savvy was impressive but it was another aspect of this couple’s life that floored her in ways that had nothing to do with boyfriends, The Mommy Game, or her general trepidation in such encounters.