Cleaning to impress other moms: good or bad?


My daughter just had a playdate with a new friend. They seem to have had a wonderful time, but I spent the school day furiously making beds and vacuuming.  When we came in from school, friend in tow, I noticed how the low winter sun revealed the crumbs on the counter, I imagined this little girl coming home.

"How was the playdate, honey?" her mom would ask.

Her face would fall and she'd run into her mother's arms, saying:

"Oh mommy, it was horrible! There were crumbs everywhere and my sweater stuck to the counter. And there were dirty dishes in the sink!"

I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen. I have never heard anything even remotely housekeeping related upon picking up one of the kids at a playdate. Lust over the other kid's toys or the sheer size of their sister's bedroom, sure. But I never heard about any crumbs.

But I still want to keep the house tidy -- and not for my own family or anything. I want to impress the other mom. And more than that, I don't want her talking about my counter crumbs during pickup time.

Moms are a funny bunch. In my experience, there is no better kindred spirit out there than that other mom you meet at the playground and wind up swapping child-rearing war stories. But somehow there are always a few who might let it slip that Kenny's nanny served Coca-Cola to their kindergartner at a playdate. Okay, I'm that mom sometimes. And it did happen - Coke to a kindergartner! Crazy, right?

So, what about the mom-hating? And I know that mentioning it was the Nanny was a whole 'nother way to hate. I mean, it was an interesting anecdote and I knew Kenny's mom would never find out because she was too busy traveling the world with her fancy job. Well, there you go -- maybe there was a little jealousy over the fancy job there. Maybe it was a little reassuring that having a fancy job might mean something would break down just a little on the home front. Maybe my perspective on how bad a coke is for a 5-year-old was the slightest bit out of whack.

So, that five-year-old is now 14, and I think I'm pretty good about keeping it positive within the sisterhood. I've seen way to many moms act like crazy bitches (that was my motto one year -- Bitches are Crazy) to let myself be one. But I still am a little motivated by the fear of mom-shaming. I definitely pack the kids a lunch with those fancy reusable containers because when I'm on lunch duty and I see little Dylan with a cool french glass bottle with a rubberized cover in his lunchbox, I am way impressed. And I'd like Dylan's mom to someday be in awe of the pomegranate I just packed. I used to actually take the car to the wash on playdate day. But then one time I forgot and I think the biggest laugh the kids got was on the way home trying to identify the fruit in the way back cup-holder (See, sweetie, dried lemon really isn't a thing.)

I want to just "do me" as they say, but I sometimes get caught up in what the other mom is going to think. But then again, if it gets my car to the wash, is that so bad?

This post originally appeared at The Ill-prepared Housewife.