Like forensics, mom profiling is not a perfect science, but I can narrow things down.
Because moms, I know you. In four seconds, I can accurately assess almost everything about you like a crime scene investigator knows which direction the pistol was pointed from the bloodstain pattern on the wall. It's mom forensics, and after enough crime scenes, one mom can practically clock the velocity of another mom's bullet.
If your daughter didn't want her hair brushed this morning, I know it from the angle of the tangle. I know what company makes the purple plastic clip in her hair and the size socks she wears.
Okay mom on aisle nine, from the looks of your quilted Eddie Bauer grocery cart cover, I can tell that like me, you are a first-timer, extra paranoid about germs and guilty of registering for crap you didn't need. Either that, or your kid gets sick often, which means she probably goes to daycare.
The mom with amazingly lean biceps at the yogurt store with her toddler in the late afternoon, well, not only is she a stay-at-home mom, her gym has free childcare.
She reads Us Weekly on the treadmill and watches anything on Bravo.
Cubes of fresh fruit or plastic containers of homemade pasta emerge at a birthday party? That mom's child has an allergy to wheat or dairy, or the mom is a bit of a controlling, hippie, worrier who would rather vote for Newt Gingrich than let her baby eat pizza or cake. Sleep training is something she equates with waterboarding.
If a mother's face features liquid eyeliner or any other complicated cosmetics situation, her kid has an easy temperament. That baby was hanging out in a Fisher-Price battery-operated swing for 20 minutes while mom shaded her lids.
Incredibly beautiful blond mom at baby music class who smiles at me extra big and for a fraction of a moment longer than the social norm? That lady is lonely. She's an actress who has very few friends because she's so pretty she makes insecure women uncomfortable. She will approach me and compliment my son's old-school brown leather boots to break the ice. She will approach me because, perhaps unconsciously, she's taped off the crime scene around me. She knows without knowing why that I'm lonely, too. And I'm approachable, because my diaper bag is tasteful, but has one broken zipper and an obvious Desitin smear.
With my gruesome metaphors about crime and blood, it may be lost that I'm talking about something nice, a connection to other moms based on this one, shared characteristic. Before I had a baby, moms were invisible to me.
They strolled right on by me and now, I can tell you that stroller is a Bob Revolution in plum with a swiveling front wheel. You paid the big bucks for that bad boy and the sidewalk around your house is craggy or you jog. There is a small chance either you or your husband has dabbled in mountain biking. You paid extra for the handlebar console, which means you can't go anywhere without your coffee or you're a chronic key loser. You are on maternity leave from a high-powered job.
If you are checking your phone at the park, but don't seem to have a sense of urgency and have a dead look in your eyes, your husband is out of town and you've been on baby duty by yourself all week. You are bored.
Just as my toddler's brain is soaking up knowledge and skills faster than he will for the rest of his life, I'm also a bit of a sponge, not because developmentally my brain is ready for action, but because in the last 20 months I've been exposed to so much new information that, despite myself, I can't help but know things, and now that my mind has been bombarded with information and forced to process the difference between decorative and mesh crib bumpers, I understand the magnitude of minutiae. I can see through you like a glass bottle (you recycle, used cloth diapers).
By the way, mom whose pre-walker has lightly scuffed sneakers -- I'm jealous. You obviously have a rich source of hand-me-downs.
Follow Teresa Strasser on Twitter: www.twitter.com/teresastrasser