What is up with mom culture? I really don’t get it. I feel like we are in the same boat: Someone needs our attention from the time we wake up until the time we go to bed (and often times, even after that!). No day is the same, though there is a guarantee that something will break, something will be deferred until tomorrow, and something else will be splattered with [name a bodily fluid here]. You’d think we’d want to get together more often to just be. But for some reason it feels like the only thing we want to do is one-up each other. I have no interest in competing with you: Whether you have a Coach diaper bag (really?), you decided to lose 150 pounds after your pregnancy (good for you?), or you have the time and money to get to the nail salon each week (holy economy, batman!) I don’t have a lot of inclination to compare myself with you.
But just because I don’t want to compare doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be buddies. Come on!
I live in a nice complex in a suburb north of the Boss Town, where the rent is crazy expensive but you get an assigned parking space in a garage so I don’t care. When this place was built, it was designed for singles and young kidless couples. However, what with the economy and all, this place had become a veritable Chuck E Cheese. There are a bunch of us stay-at-home moms who live here….though, of course, I’m the only Black one that I’ve seen. The boys and I are kinda celebrities in the complex too–always over at the clubhouse to get cookies and hot chocolate, or at the coffee shop, saying hi to the maintenance guys and looking at their cool golf carts…
Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is, the complex has weird mom-cliques: There are the nannies, the international moms (who I can’t hang out with because there is a language barrier), there are the crazy hipster moms (with the $400 strollers), and there are the everyone-else moms. I consider myself to be one of the other everyone-else moms because there isn’t anyone out there like me! Now sure, Ursa Major is friends with just about everyone, so I let him out to play with the other kids when the weather is nice. But generally what happens is there is small talk, awkward silence, and then a weird drifting toward cell phones until children stop playing.
So when I met a fairly sociable mom a few months ago with a 3 year-old and a baby close to Ursa Minor’s age, I was pumped. She complained a lot about not getting sleep (*yawn*), and she talks a lot about People magazine (*yawn*, really?), and when she found out I was born in the 80’s she made a really big deal about it (*yawn* you are only 36, that isn’t that old), but I was still happy to find another adult to talk to during the day.
Until there started the comparisons.
This Mom: “Did you get [Ursa Minor] sleeping through the night, yet?”
Me: “I mean, we started the Ferber method and….”
This Mom: “Oh my goodness, you are so organized! We can’t seem to get it together, we’ll never get sleep.”
I’m not organized, I’m proactive. I also value sleep. and you, too, could choose to sleep if only you took up a method that works for you.
Goldie Locks gives Ursa Major a cookie. Ursa Major accepts.
Me: “What do you say?”
Ursa Major: “Dank doo.” (Translation: Thank You)
Me: “Good job!”
This mom: “Oh my goodness…he is so polite. I can’t believe you have such a polite kid! Why are you starting manners already? I haven’t done it and [Goldie Locks] is 3!”
First: Why is it surprising that I value manners and would choose to teach my children manners at a young age? Why would you actively choose not to teach your child “please” and “Thank you” when they clearly can talk and have a mind to be able to say those things?
This Mom: “Oh my goodness, I’m having a hard time keeping a routine with both of them. What does your evening look like?”
Me: “We start at 7:15 with bath for Ursa Minor, generally Ursa Major’s bath starts around 7:30, we give them milk and read them three books and there are both down by 8 in the nursery. It’s practically the same for nap time. We have routines all day.”
This Mom: “You do that every night? It works?”
Me: “Yes, this is called Executive Functioning…. [Here I explain executive functioning]”
This Mom: “So what do you do for nap time?”
Me: [I explain our nap time routine in detail with general time ranges.]
This Mom: “Oh my God, you are such a drill sergeant. How can you have your day so scheduled like that?”
…..so, wow, first of all, you were just complaining that your life is a mess. Why are you now calling me names because my life isn’t? Second of all, having my children on a schedule means that they are well fed and well slept, and thus not grumpy. Third of all, children on a consistent schedule means that I can do my housework, make sure that dinner is prepared every night, gives me time to write blog posts and chapters for my novel, allows me to read books (and keeps me above the stupidity of celebrity gossip), and otherwise leads me to be a better individual. And thus, a pretty good mom.
Not to say that she isn’t a good mom. She’s just a different mom. A different mom who I don’t want to hang out with.
The bottom line is, I’m feeling a bit grumpy about being relegated to the land of non-intellectual yet super competitive for no reason land. What were you ladies doing before you were producing children? Doesn’t anyone watch the news? I just want to pretend, for a moment, that I have an advanced degree and an acute interest and understanding of politics and policy. I want, essentially, to be an equal member of society for a few minutes.
And maybe make a friend…
Is that too much to ask?