Friday, April 8, 2011

Peer Pressure, Timeless and Ageless.

More often than not, when we hear the term “peer pressure” we think of school age kids, especially teenagers. Many times I have heard people express that peer pressure continues on throughout all the phases in life. I have experienced this to an extent. I do remember some incidents back at my work where a lot of drama was going down and there was a lot of pressure to choose sides. Then there was pressure from the union and pressure from the opposite side of that coin. Sure. That’s all part of life. I guess I never thought too much of it once I was out of school, university included, though the pressure I felt there was not true peer pressure. I was in with a crowd of good friends who shared my values so not once was I ever pressured to drink, smoke, do drugs or any of that stuff. I am thankful.

The reason this is on my mind now is a little bit silly, but here it is. My world now is largely that of stay-at-home mom. Obviously there is more to me than just that, but it is my primary role at this time in my life. You wouldn’t think there could be too much peer pressure on a stay-at-home mom, but that is untrue. Us Moms live in a competitive world. There is pressure to live up to certain standards. Us stay-at-home moms feel the pressure of needing to be good enough, or somehow having to explain ourselves to those who are helping bring in the dough. Then the working moms feel pressure from the stay-at-home crowd because (and yes, this happens, I’ve seen it) the stay-at-home moms tell them they are selfish to put their work/career above their children. I suppose some of it is good old-fashioned competition, like the need to have the smartest or the best-looking child, the most well-disciplined…etc. But there really is pressure from one mom to another to raise one’s child a certain way. A lot of people are not shy about saying what they think, and everybody has an opinion, especially about parenting.

So yes, there is peer pressure in every walk of life. But that is not really the side of it that I noticed recently. This is all very silly, but it will show you how some things don’t change outside of Junior High, and perhaps how some of it is just in our own heads.

Since Cody started attending Junior Kindergarten, I’ve noticed a few things about the other mothers. More accurately, I’ve noticed some things about myself. In the dead of winter, when I would drop Cody off, I had to walk him across the school grounds to get to the kindergarten door, so I made sure I was dressed for the weather. I wore my winter jacket, of course, but I did not stop at that. I wore a toque (a winter hat, for you non-Canadians out there), a hood, a scarf, mitts and my husband’s very large and clunky sorel-type boots. Attractive? No. Warm? Yes. That’s kind of what I was going for.

But when I looked at the other moms, I noticed none of them were dressed like me. They were all having good hair days. Wait, how come their hair was showing? Where were their hats? Then I saw one who was wearing a short bomber-style leather jacket and hip-rider jeans. She has at least an inch of bare torso showing. Have I mentioned this is Manitoba, and the weather was well into the -30s? (And we’re talking Celsius here.) That’s what made me think of peer pressure, and I was amazed to think a mom of young children would still find it uncool to cover her head in the freezing temperatures because it would mess up her hair. Me, I was secretly glad for the need to wear a toque so that no one could see just how disastrous my hair really was. The funny thing was, when I looked around, they were all like that. Makeup on, hair looking fabulous… I thought us stay-at-home moms had license to look a little, well, unfinished. My work uniform consists of pyjama bottoms and stained shirts. You know, the kind that it’s okay to get snot or spit-up on, or even just plain sticky jam or syrup. Even my bra is more of a courtesy bra. I only have two, you know, and the good one is saved for when I go out. So the one I wear at home is too big and does not really fulfill its job requirements, if you know what I’m saying.

I’m lucky if I even get a shower, as even a potty break that lasts less than three minutes usually results in one of my kids risking his own or one of his brothers’ lives, or else stealing food or destroying part of the house. I can’t trust any of them long enough to shower, let alone style my hair. I could in theory get up before they do and shower then, but have I mentioned that they get up by 6 a.m. at the latest? I am NOT getting up before 6 a.m. to shower just so I can look good when the only people I see during the day wear things like rubber boots with a pair of underwear and a hockey helmet.

Of course, that’s my at home uniform. When I go to drop off or pick up Cody, I change into my good pants. My yoga pants, that is. Okay, I guess I do have one pair of jeans now, but they are a touch too big as well and fall down, and when they do, they take my underwear with them so it is overall a very unpleasant experience to wear them. I don’t bother changing my shirt, as it remains covered by my jacket anyway. I do not normally  put on makeup for the occasion, though I did this morning, and I felt rather silly about it.

I’ve been thinking about this. The majority of the other moms in this particular group are very pretty and they always look nice. Hair done, makeup done, nice clothes…etc. I got to thinking, is there something wrong with me? Am I just very pathetic when it comes to fashion and style? Are the other moms shallow or vain because they make sure they look good when they go out? (I secretly suspect there are even some moms out there that look great at home.) Or is the problem more about how I see myself? Yes, I’m tired and don’t feel like putting much effort into my appearance, but perhaps it is partially due to feeling like I’m not worth it. I suppose I will have to explore this issue further in the future. I was a little embarrassed the day I showed up at the school with Cody and my head was uncovered, and his teacher looked at me and exclaimed, “Oh, is it nice out there?” That was when I realized she could gauge the weather entirely on my wardrobe, but nobody else’s. I also wondered whether the other moms thought I was something of a freak. If we were all in Junior High together, would some of them mock me for my lack of fashion sense? Probably. But that’s okay. The nice thing about being past Junior High is that even if everyone is thinking those things, there is a high probability that none of them would ever say anything.

I guess the bottom line is, peer pressure never goes away, but sometimes there is just as much pressure coming from within ourselves. Whether I stay as I am, or whether I become the fashion queen of this small town, I guess what matters most is that I am okay with myself. I will have to continue working on this.

It has been a rough week. I will end this post here, as it is already too long! Have a good weekend everyone.

No comments: