I obviously moved to the wrong valley city. Tracy women are singularly uninspired compared to their neighbors to the southeast. I have yet to see an announcement on the Internet about the Tracy women who are breaking all the records for being productive, creative and rich.
Imagine the contrast in the usual mom conversations here and in Modesto. In Tracy, Jennifer calls Stephanie to set up a play date for the kids. They chat a bit about the local sales, the outrageous prices for chicken or coffee, gossip a bit about mutual acquaintances, and then head to the gym to work out.
In Modesto, Jennifer calls Stephanie to ask about the latest deluxe summer camp for their kids. They chat about their latest gajillion-dollar idea, the outrageously low rate on their bank deposits, gossip about a mutual acquaintance who is only making $75 an hour, and then head to the laboratory to invent something new.
Is it the water? Is it enriched with some secret success formula? Is it the commute? Does the construction along Highway 99 somehow help those women break out of the box (if not the traffic jam) to rise to new heights? Is it the landscape? Does the Doubletree Hotel, rising out of the otherwise flat vista, act as a magical pyramid bestowing wisdom on its beholders?
Whatever it is, I want it.
Of course, I want to believe they aren’t lying to me. I’d also like to believe that Widow VanderHoot really is dying of cancer and wants me to get her millions of dollars and donate it to the charities of my choice. Or that the Nigeria Claims Payment Office really is sitting on $4 million rightfully belonging to my late sixth cousin, four times removed, with no closer relatives than little old me. I want to believe the Afghanistan soldier who stumbled onto a cache of millions needs to ship it back home and will cut me a 50 percent share for helping him do so.
I want to believe there are supermoms in Modesto.
Coming of age during the heyday of the women’s rights movement, I drank the Kool-Aid that we could have it all: fame, fortune, family, eternal youth. Being a supermom or a superwoman was what it was all about. If anyone tried to limit our success, we would break through those ceilings and show the wimpy men how it was done. We would be perfect business executives, mothers, friends and lovers. (Husbands were considered optional equipment.)
But there are supermoms in Tracy, even if the Internet has not yet discovered them. On a recent night I sat in on a meeting with supermoms from Tracy. They were there to work on being even better supermoms by sharing ways to raise their children or grandchildren to be superkids who knew how to work and contribute to society.
There was the mom who has taught her preschoolers a family motto to never put one another down. Another mom gets her two kids to help clean up by teaming one with mom and one with dad in a competition to clean as quickly as possible. She ensures the kids get equal time playing with that parent. There was the mom who is making room for her mom to move in, excited about the good influence grandma could have on her children.
A grandmother has taken in three grandchildren who had no other place to go. It takes a special couple who can raise their own children and then start over again to give shelter, support, love and encouragement to three teenagers at one time. Another grandmother taught her kids and grandkids priorities by leaving Tracy to serve a church mission in South Africa for 18 long months.
Supermoms aren’t just residing in Modesto, and they do more than claim to make loads of money by suspicious get-rich-quick schemes. They are in those carpools each morning and afternoon. They are cheering on the sidelines at athletic events. They are schlepping kids to lessons and tutors and doctor appointments. They are building the next generation day by day in countless ways more valuable than $77-an-hour jobs. On a recent night, they were learning to make cute holiday suckers for their kids, rather than being suckers for the schemes I find on the Internet.
Guess I won’t move to Modesto. The water is just fine here in Tracy.
• Pamela Case, a local freelance paralegal, is among a select group of local residents with columns in the Tracy Press.