The problem: A fellow parent signed up to bring banana cream pie to school for Pi Day. About 9 p.m. the night before, she e-mailed me asking if she could bring whipped cream instead. Because hers was the only banana cream on the list and I didn’t see her note until early Monday morning, I said she should stick with the pie. She not only didn’t bring the pie, but she didn’t show up with whipped cream, either. I feel bad for the kids who really wanted the banana cream pie — and I feel weird that we haven’t talked since. Now what?
The high road: Like most frustrations of living with other humans, the real issue seldom is what we think it is. I’m guessing that this isn’t about pi or pie, so let’s dig deeper (preferably into a heaping scoop of vanilla bean ice cream). My hunch is that Other Mom got overwhelmed by, pick one: a sick kid, a pile of dishes, three loads of laundry, too much homework, a difficult spouse or, maybe, escape TV on HBO. She looked up and it was Sunday at 9 and she forgot to buy the pie, but she had an extra can of whipped cream from Thanksgiving. She wanted you to give her a break, but she erred by letting ego drive her and not telling you the truth.
Times have changed, but there’s still so much mommy shaming out there; none of us wants to screw up in front of other mommies. Had she been candid, you could have offered a high road, “Whipped cream sounds great. Thanks!” (Because, really, how lucky are we that the biggest trial some of our kids face is one fewer pie?)
Send her a cheery note telling her that you hope everything is OK between you and that, in retrospect, the whipped cream would have been a fun addition. Short. And sweet.
Gail Rosenblum is a features columnist. Send questions about life’s little quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org.