Every Sunday (as long as there is submitted content) I’ll be featuring a post from another cool blogger. Let me know if you’re interested in participating.
Today, our guest blogger proves me wrong. Not all moms fit into mother categories.
By: Lea Grover
I have always been bad at cliques. I don’t know if this is a failure on my part as a girl, or as a generally social creature, or in what other capacity I always been lacking. The fact remained that, despite my ludicrous attempts to be accepted into groups of girls from kindergarten to college, I was utterly out of my league.
As I got older and more determined that I didn’t give a damn what other people thought, the cliques I tried to get into became more and more co-ed. By the time I graduated high school, I was in pretty much a boy’s club. It wasn’t until I was out in the world as a functional adult that I finally started making friends with women. It wasn’t until I was getting married that I actually had a group of other women I could have “girls nights” with. And then, as so many women do, I had babies.
Being the only person I knew with babies, I of course wanted to go out into the world and make other friends with babies. I wanted in on one of those Mama Cliques.
But how to chose? Here was one filled with crunchy mamas. Yes, I’m a vegetarian, but I would DEFINITELY be circumcising if I had a boy, and no matter what my children were getting vaccinated. Those mothers had very little to say to me.
What about the super-moms? These women met up around their work schedules in the evenings, they had coordinated snacks and nanny-shares and mommy-and-me pilates. They all earned easily three times what my husband and I do, and were just as easily a decade older. My home-made yogurt and stunted education status raised quite a few eyebrows, and again I found myself sitting on the sidelines, having absolutely nothing to talk about with the other mothers.
I looked into meeting up with other student mothers. Either they were much, much older (their children having grown) or they were teenagers.
I tried hanging out with mothers at the synagogue. As a high-holy-days sort of Jew, I was pitied and resented for my ignorance of the havdallah prayers, scoffed at for not providing my daughters a naming ceremony, and virtually shunned for having wed and procreated with a Lutheran.
My last resort was a parents of multiples club. There was the worst disaster. The only thing I had in common with those women was that I am a mother of twins. I got so tired of explaining that my we used IVF because my husband was on chemotherapy, so tired of the pitying looks and the abruptly ended conversations… I didn’t go back.
And I have to say, those Mama Cliques are just as mean, if not meaner, than the cliques I tried to get into as a kid. The judgments are harsh, filled with the self righteous pride of motherhood. The stakes are high, the other mothers offer your children potential friends, and you know you need to let your kids make friends. The expectations are outrageous- be the CRUNCHIEST mama, be the MOST SUCCESFUL mama, be the MOST DEVOUT mama…
It’s as though motherhood emphasizes all that it both good and bad about womanhood. It brings out the most tender and considerate of impulses for one’s children, but also stirs up the catty wrath of dominance. In each of the Mama Cliques I observed a definite pecking order, the CRUNCHIEST mama, or the MOST DEVOUT mama subtly controlling the movement of the group. And always,always, the unspoken but constant criticism… who’s children are BEST? It seems to me that no woman is as competitive and manipulative as a mother confronted with other mothers.
I have never enjoyed a meeting with a Mama Clique. Whatever happened to just being a human being first, and a mother second?
But then I suppose it seemed like most of the girls in cliques I desperately wanted in on back in my youth barely acted like human beings to begin with. Lucky me, some of my friends have had babies of their own. And, lucky me, I already LIKE those people- men and women both.
I still don’t know where to go to get my kids socialized with other children their age, because I am, and probably always will be, a failure at getting into feminine groups. I continue trying to coexist peacefully within a Mama Clique, for the sake of my children at least. I go from coffee klatch to playground playdate to Mothers of Multiples wine tastings… always with the hope that THIS time- THIS time I’ll figure out how to befriend this group of women. This cool group, this crunchy group, this beautiful group… any group… THIS time the Mama Clique will finally let me in.
A Few Words From the Author
There’s an ancient Chinese curse I once heard, “May you have an interesting life.” It’s possible that instead of simply hearing it, I was actually being smitten. My life has been, in a word, interesting. Once a Renaissance Woman with a pot in every fire, I now try to keep myself content to be merely a mother of twins, a gourmet chef, a master painter, and a fashion designer while finally completing my bachelor’s degree. You can find me filling my few free moments by blogging about such topics as child rearing, cooking, keeping my thumb green, maintaining a dual-religion family life, keeping us all healthy despite unending obstacles, and generally trying to be a modern day Bohemian Donna Reed.