In this column, Kristen Mulrooney writes letters to famous mothers from literature, TV, and film whom she finds herself relating to on a different level now that she’s a mom herself.

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Dear Mrs. George,

I hope this letter finds you well and I’m not interrupting the buzz from your afternoon daiquiris.

I’m sorry, that probably came across as judgy, and I promise I’m not here to judge you. I’m writing because as I acclimated to motherhood, I thought often of something you said:

“I’m not like a regular mom. I’m a cool mom.”

You’re the last person I ever thought I’d find common ground with, mainly because I wouldn’t be caught dead in a Juicy Couture tracksuit and I don’t believe in supplying alcohol to minors, but when you said you’re not like a regular mom, I felt that. I never saw myself as a regular mom either, and I had my anxieties about entering #MomLife, because I was afraid I’d have trouble finding my place there.

I gained automatic entry into this world when I became pregnant with my first child, and even though the Regular Moms welcomed me with open arms, I felt immediately unmoored in the new land. First of all, everyone started saying things like “#MomLife,” but like… unironically. And right off the bat, the Regular Moms were so perfect at everything. They released professional-grade pregnancy announcements, had baby showers decorated with impeccable handmade crafts, and somehow they all knew how to artfully frost a gender reveal cupcake. Meanwhile, I was scrolling my phone, feeling incredibly attacked by Pinterest vs. Reality memes.

Despite my shortcomings, the Regular Moms were so nice. Like SO nice. My judgy introvert schtick brought literally nothing to the table, and they still dragged me along and insisted I join them for Moms’ Nights, which succeeded only in making me feel more like an alien. Everyone was so earnest and optimistic and very much on the same page with each other. It was almost like they all had a set of terms and conditions about motherhood that I wasn’t privy to, like they held a secret Mom Meeting without me and agreed we would all love Colleen Hoover, paint nights, and T-shirts about wine and coffee.

See, that probably came across as judgy, and that’s not what I’m here for. Let me try to explain this better.

I’m not like a regular mom, but I’m absolutely not saying I’m a cool mom. What I’m trying to say is that I feel like a reject on the Island of #MisfitMoms. If you’re being honest with yourself, Mrs. George, is that how you feel as you desperately try to connect with the people around you? Do you ever wonder if it’s not so much that you’re not a regular mom, but more that you’re not a regular person? Sure, I could pretend to enjoy a wine and paint night, just for the sake of socializing with people I want to be friends with, but in those situations, I’m about as authentic as you are when you’re prying teenagers for the 411, so instead I stay home and focus on writing my one-star Goodreads review for Verity.

Do you just wish you knew how to find some common ground?

I’ve noticed something, though. I took my kids to the zoo a few years ago. One of the first exhibits was a gibbon. A crowd stood around the gibbon enclosure, oooing and awwing at a tiny baby ape as it followed its mother around. Then the mama gibbon took her baby in the crook of her arm and pulled it close to her chest, where it started to nurse. The mama held on to a branch with one arm, looking out at the crowd. I could see in her face that she was weary, exhausted, and sad, like she just wanted everyone to go away. And I was like, “Mama Gibbon… I feel that.”

I actually feel that a lot. I feel it when I see a bleary-eyed young woman in a COFFEE IS MY LOVE LANGUAGE shirt pushing a stroller around Target at eight in the morning. I feel it when I see a paparazzi shot of celebrity Blake Lively trying to carry all her kids to the car, everyone’s hair uncombed and still in their pajamas. I feel it when a mom at the library who speaks a different language than me drags her tantrum-having daughter out of the children’s room and rolls her eyes at me, and I give a sympathetic shrug. I feel a deep understanding that no matter our differences, the other moms and I are the same.

Motherhood is the great equalizer. Whether you’re a movie star on the red carpet at the Met Gala or that mama possum who lives in the woods behind my yard and scares me when I take the trash out at night—if you’ve ever spent a day lugging a baby around while running on a grand total of forty minutes of sleep, you’re a regular mom.

If you’ve wiped so many boogers, it isn’t even gross to you anymore, or if your own happiness and well-being are tied to the happiness and well-being of these replicas of you who are tethered to your heart, or if you’ve ever had to help someone with their Capri-Sun straw while you were sitting on the toilet? You’re a regular mom. Everything else is just surface, and I think the shiny happy moms who embraced me understood this long before I did.

So I think you are a regular mom, Mrs. George. I can see it there under the silicon veneer. I see you being supportive of your kids’ interests. I see you yearning for a close relationship with them. I see you taking pride in their accomplishments. That right there is the actual #MomLife.

And no matter what else, at the end of the day, we’re all just regular moms who can find common ground in one singular desire: for our daughters to not get hit by a bus.

With love from one regular mom to another,