For centuries, men have pushed the boundaries of exploration and discovery. But no such discovery exists like that of a man entering his wife’s well-established, clockwork-run, mommy world.
Now that summer is in full swing and I’ve hung up my teacher cape until August, I find myself navigating my wife’s SAHM (Stay at Home Mom) waters every now and then. For her, the only difference summer brings is the addition of another full-time cruise activity director running the eternal cruise ship, the S.S Sahm. For the most part, I join this already sailing ship with ease…but there are the occasional port stops that are foreign and foreboding. This was one such stop.
Every Monday at the Southshore Library is Toddler StoryTime. SAHM’s run to this oasis like a fish flapping to a puddle. It offers a break from the heat and 30 minutes of free child entertainment. Always up for a new adventure, I joined the family during this well-established routine. Yarei and the kids went in first as I returned my “Kung Fu at Home” video. However, going in “unaccompanied” was a mistake. Inside the classroom were about 30 members of the SAHM Tribe and their offspring doing what appeared to be a conga line around the perimeter of the room. It reminded me of a tribal dance the Lost Boys would have done with their moms… if they had any. A large screen featured ‘Nick the Music Man’ and his dancing fairy companion singing some sort of train song. I quickly noticed all eyes on me – the only man entering, and interrupting, the room after Choo Choo line started. One does not simply interrupt “Choo Choo line,” I learned.
I quickly and apologetically found a seat outside the inner circle where moms nestled and contained their little minions during story time. I sat behind a mom, her toddler and her stroller, trying to blend in like a peacock in a hen house. The mom looked over her shoulder at me suspiciously, then pretended to grab something from her stroller and pulled it in closer. I tried to communicate with my eyes, “I’m not unaccompanied! My SAHM is right there!” But it didn’t matter…I was an outsider and would be treated as such. It probably didn’t help that I was wearing my Stranger Things fan shirt and luchador mask. My son told me the day’s theme was Lucha Libre Lunes. He’ll pay for that later.
I shook off the shivers and desperately tried to make eye contact with my little tribe, hoping for some type of tribal pass to appease the natives. Unfortunately, they were too engrossed in a rousing rhyme of ‘Row Row Row Your Boat.’
Aren’t they wondering where I am? Don’t they see the distress flares?
Finally, the rowboats threw in their anchors, and I started to move toward my tribe, apologizing as I squeezed past Vigilante-Mom. She eyed me up and down and pulled her daughter in closer.
This must be how Spider-Man feels when the media portrays him as a menace.
But just as I broke past the outer ring, the Chief Librarian, Princess Lottabook, shouted, “Let us now begin the Minion Dance!!”
Blood-curdling war cries erupted from both children and mothers alike. The music started pumping. Arms and bodies began flailing everywhere like those inflatable air dancers you see on the side of the road. I dodged, ducked and jumped over swinging appendages and baby carriers. It was like a nightclub rave…at 10am…for moms and toddlers…in a library. During that moment, my intrusive presence became invisible as moms flashed back to their non-children days. Only the occasional spit up from body-worn babies overcome by mom’s gyrations stopped the manic mothers. I crawled through like a commando under barbed wire and reached my people in the inner circle just as the song ended.
The high now faded, my cloaking device deactivated and I was fully exposed in the inner circle. It was ok, though, because I belonged to my own SAHM subgroup. Princess Lottabook gave me an approving nod, but others from the tribal council still looked at me warily.
Did he just witness the Minion Dance? This was supposed to be a safe group!
I wanted to say that their secret was safe with me. That I wouldn’t tell anyone about this place and they could even blindfold me on the way out. It wouldn’t matter…
Just then Princess Lottabook addressed the council one last time.
“Friends, our time together has come to a close. As is our timeless tradition, passed down from generation to generation, we will gather up our tribal toys and say goodbye as we sing the song of our ancestors…Let it Go!”
Mothers gathered toddlers and inserted babies into body pouches as they picked up crayons and scissors. In complete synchronicity, they sang the song, swaying back and forth between craft stations.
Don’t let them in, don’t let them see,
Be the good girl you always have to be!
The SAHMs twirled with outstretched arms, flinging imaginary ice blasts from their fingers. Suddenly, a mom threw me a frigid look, as if to say, “What you have seen here was not meant for you. Be warned.” I gathered up a glue stick, swooshed my imaginary cape at her and countered back:
“The cold never bothered me anyway!”
See you next week, ladies.