Mary Oves
Mary Oves Danny Drake

Oh, you perfect beach mothers. You're so ... perfect.

It's almost Labor Day weekend, and the rest of us are tired of your perfect little snacks, perfect little beach set ups, and perfect little swimsuit combinations. And frankly, we've had enough. I would like to speak on behalf of all us mothers who aren't "perfect."

The perfect mothers are smirking now, because they know who they are. They are the ones who leave at exactly the same time every day so that they can get their parking spot at the same beach every day. They have their carrier on wheels that transports chairs, boogie boards, toys and their three old kid. They wear a visor, and use the crosswalks liberally.

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They have a certain way of packing up their gear, and their gear is always rinsed and ready. Their towels are always fluffy, their kids have the correct combinations of SPF on apportioned parts of their bodies, and they have enough gear that no matter what game the kids feel like playing, it's covered.

Oh, and their kids wear Crocs. One of the great mysteries of life is how someone convinced America that these are cute shoes.

These mothers make sure they call other mothers ahead of time so that they have a circle of twenty people around them on the beach. Looking popular is very important. Their kid has 10 kids to play with because Perfect Mom called everyone she knew the day before, usually other perfect mothers.

Her snacks are nutritionally balanced. She packs baby carrots, watermelon balls, whole grain crackers and pert little grapes. She makes sandwiches with the food pyramid in mind - fresh lean lunchmeat, condiments, crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes, and Grey Poupon, or maybe some herb mayonnaise. Everything is kept fresh and cool through the use of an eco-friendly storage cooler, the price of which was a donation that fed a family of four for two weeks.

When her kids clamor for the ice-cream man, Perfect Mom reaches into a special compartment in her cooler, and pulls out homemade frozen popsicles made from organic juice.

Her beach bag has her initials (PM), and contains multiple periodicals like Cosmopolitan and Elle, and the latest romance novel. She has plenty of time to read, because she brought so much stuff, her kids don't get bored.

Perfect Mom knows the lifeguard on "her beach." She brings him fresh nectarines. He dotes on her kid, and tells him he will help him be a lifeguard someday. She sends homemade banana bread to that lifeguard's mother in the fall, thanking her for having produced such a wonderful young man. Lifeguard's Mom loves Perfect Mom like a daughter, and knits her kids scarves in the winter.

PM stays late at the beach, because what else is there to do? At dinnertime, she and her horde order ten pizzas, and delight in the jealous glances of those around them. She makes sure to pick an out of town ogling child and invite him for pizza, showing everyone once again how perfect she is. She heads home, sighing at her perfectness, and vows to do the same the next day. And the next. And the next.

Then there are the rest of us. Some days we don't get to the beach until 4 p.m., sometimes we go at 9 a.m. to enjoy the quiet. Sometimes we have other things to do.

We don't bring toys. The kids have their surfboards, maybe a ball if they remember. If they get bored? Find something to do, we say.

We ride our bikes to the beach. We carry towels in our un-initialed beach bags. Our kids have bike racks for their boards and stuff. If we drive, we go to a quiet beach with meters and park right near it.

Food is a non-essential. Maybe we'll remember some snack crackers, some Cheetos, a frozen bottle of Smart Water. We always have twenty bucks for them to get ice cream, maybe a bag of plums. If they get hungrier than that? We go home. Because we can always come back.

We remember sunscreen at the last minute, and we don't own visors that we want to be seen in public in. We are completely happy to hang with just our kids or one close friend with kids the same age. Sometimes we remember something to read, but mostly we watch our kids in the water.

We don't know the lifeguard. Or his mother. And we like our imperfect ways. Because at the end of day, if your set up is so perfect, why is your kid at my towel, asking for Cheetos?

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