Winning in Suburbia


A couple months ago I read an article about playground freeze-out. You meet someone and chat for a bit but that’s where it ends. I completely related to this story and shared it with my Moms Group on Facebook. Mom after mom posted comments about how hard it is to get past the small talk. It has been especially hard for me to feel connected after moving from our city condo of eight years to the land of Suburbia.

Recently I was asked by two board members of my Moms Group if I had any interest serving on next year’s board. It was a good feeling to be recognized, even though I just joined six months ago. These positions force you to put yourself out there, which is great for getting to know people, but it’s also a big time commitment. I know because I was the safety committee chairman of my old neighborhood association.

It took me almost a week to make up my mind and during that time someone else decided to run. I was shocked, but decided to go for it regardless.

The night of the meeting my husband texted me to say his father had an extra ticket to the Cardinals game, behind home plate. I tried to find a last minute babysitter, but no one was available. My excitement for the meeting turned to guilt.

After cooking dinner and cleaning up, I raced around the house trying to find something suitable to wear. As a stay at home mom, my wardrobe is quite pathetic these days. I slapped on some make-up and even put on jewelry. “Mom,” asked my three-year-old, “is that a clock on your arm?” It has been so long since I’ve worn a watch, she forgot the correct word.

I saw many familiar faces, most from other events, but a few simply from their Facebook profile pictures. I had no idea who was running against me. I wasn’t trying to win votes, but as I drove home later I laughed at how it seemed like I was a seasoned politician working the room — introducing myself, cracking jokes, complimenting people. I swear it was all genuine.

When they called for the first mom to come up, I laughed out loud. I spent a good amount of time talking to her for the first time that night. It’s like befriending your husband’s ex, “oh that’s who you are, but I like you.” When it was my turn I spoke confidently and honestly, but it was strange to have to fight for it.

When they called out her name I felt like the Grammy cameras were on me and I quickly put a smile on my face. I hate to lose, ask my husband, but something felt different. I wanted the friendships more than the title. She’s been involved for years and asked to be on the board. This wasn’t the time to be the Dragon Queen.

Before the embarrassment could take over, I realized I should actually feel proud. I could have just backed out the minute they said there was another person running. I could have skipped the meeting. I could have stood up there and gave a lame speech, not really trying.

But no, I got dressed up in my heels and favorite blue top and I did my best. Isn’t that what parenthood is all about — modeling good behaviors. I wasn’t going to go home with my tail between my legs or tears in my eyes.

I mean if people had been snobby all night it may have felt like I lost a popularity contest, but this is a good group of women. They are down to earth, supportive, friendly and fun, which is why I was willing to run in the first place.

My “opponent” told me my speech was better, which we laughed about. Many people assured me I did great and I should run next year. A current board member told me I only lost by one vote, which is kind of amazing considering I wasn’t as well known.

In the end, I did not win the board position, but I did win some new friends and some extra, much needed, confidence.


Christina is originally from Kansas City, but has called St Louis home for 14 years. She and her husband met, married, and bought their first condo in Soulard, but after having their second kid they recently moved to Webster Groves. As a stay at home mom, there isn’t much free time, but she enjoys writing, reading, gardening and finding fun preschool activities and crafts. Life with two little girls is a challenge, but with a strong mom community here, she’s learning to embrace the chaos and just keep swimming.