Monday, October 25, 2010

Mean Mommies

Violet 3rd recital
I think I am a friendly person. Scratch that. I know I am friendly person. I have many  friends and I'm always adding to them. My husband gets annoyed with me because I 'make friends' with people everywhere we go. I find things in common with people no matter where we are - grocery store, hotel, home improvement store, bus stop, Sarah's dance class. Wait. Sarah's dance class. Nope. That was a fail. In fact, I had to change classes because I could not make friends with this one particular group of mommies. It was like the worst day of high school all over again. *shudder*

Sarah 1st recital
My girls have been dancing for 4 years now, so I know the dance school we attend and I know the mommies. Or rather I know the mommies in the classes my girls attend. Not the mommies in the other classes. Guess what!  We have cliques! And I? Am a member of the 'Nice Mommies Who Are Friends With All Moms and Show Respect To The Owners of The Dance School" clique. I like our clique. I also named our clique. :) The other clique?  I call them the 'Mean Mommies Who Think They Are Better Than Everyone Else and Sadly Believe They Are Still In High School Only They Are Not That Pretty Or Skinny Or Have Nice Skin Anymore" clique. I also named their clique. But I just call them the Mean Mommies. It's easier.
I had to change the day of Sarah's dance class this year, which meant I changed the group of girls we danced with. Enter The Mean Mommies. On the first day of class nobody talked to me -- despite my efforts to initiate conversations.  I decided that the moms in the room hadn't seen each other all summer so they were in 'catch up' mode and the next week would be better. Now, let me note here that these moms did not intimidate me in their appearance, speech or manner. The did not appear to be from a different 'class' than me or uber rich etc.

The following week, and there I sit with the moms. I hear one of them mention she is expecting -- oooh, yeah! I jump on that, only to have her glance at me with disdain, give me a once over and say, "Uh, NO."  In response to whatever my question was. I blinked, confused, but actually thought, "Hormones." And when another mom offered a cracker to my son, I smiled and thanked her. She barely glanced at me and muttered, "Well, he was asking and I am feeding my daughter." Whuck? I turned back to another mom and attempted to start a conversation with her. I got the glance, the once over and the one word answer. I tried again with another mom. It happened again. Then the 'Queen' of the Mean Mommies came in and started talking. This is when it all clicked. She sat down and began talking about how her husband would only allow their kids to go to a specific private school here in  Delaware, because, "You know, he's a cardiologist. We've got the money." And how she couldn't even fathom sending her kids to 'those Delaware public schools." And then she shuddered. I think my eyebrows disappeared into my hair. The other mommies were quick to jump in with what private schools their little precious' went to and how they could never 'do' public school either. From what I could understand the basis for picking public over private was status. That's a good reason. (read: sarcasm)

Next, they started discussing Yom Kipper and when I made a comment, they turned as a group to stare at me. Now, one of my best friends is Jewish, so I was feeling all, "Come on! I understand this!"  That spurred me to conduct an experiment. I started trying to get into their conversation, seeing what would happen the more I attempted to participate. All that happened was I became incredibly annoyed with their name dropping of designer labels (Prada shoes etc. It made me want to hide my Coach bag. Really.) and realize that I could not stay in this class. Now, don't go thinking that I got upset that the 'popular' mommies wouldn't talk to me. That is actually the exact opposite of what happened. As I sat there listening to them I began to feel sorry for them. This is what their life is about? The latest designer label? How much they are spending on tuition?  How much they paid for their designer stroller? Nobody mentioned what their child was doing in school, what cute thing they had said. If they enjoyed dance. Nothing nice or fun.

Also, the moms in the class have to support the other moms and the kids during recitals and I knew I could not count on these moms. So the following week at class I asked the 'receptionist' if I could change classes. She grinned and nodded her head  enthusiastically. Leaning forward she said, "Oh, you haven't seen anything yet. They haven't even started picnicking." What? Yes, they bring food and spread out and chat and eat as though they are at a park, not in a business establishment. Have they lost their minds? It's one thing to bring a snack, but a meal for all the share? (Well, for the Mean Mommies to share. The won't share with the others -- kids included.)

I had to go one more week before I could make arrangements to change classes. While I sat paging through a magazine, one of the Mean Mommies came breezing through the door. The owner, we'll call her Mary,  of the dance school looked up and smiled. She greeted Mean Mommy's toddler with, "Hello! And don't you look so sweet, just like always." The mom actually glared at her, tossed her hair and flounced away. Mary smiled sweetly at her retreating back and said, "Good afternoon! Nice to see you today!" I am not kidding when I say that my mouth was hanging open. When Mary saw me she smiled wider and I snapped my mouth closed. I looked over at the Mean Mommy to see her whispering with the other Mean Mommies and looking at Mary. I met Mary's eyes and said, "Don't think that goes unnoticed." She only smiled and said, "Well, you only have to put up with it one more week, dear!" I knew Mary was a wonderful, intelligent woman, but my respect and admiration for her went up ten-fold right then. That woman treated Mary like this every week. And Mary only responded with kindness. The one thing that kept ringing through my head, that I could not and still can not understand, is this: we, as moms, pick this particular dance studio because it is one of the best, if not the best in Delaware. Mary runs a tight ship. If you have your daughter in her school it's because you want her to be trained as a dancer. Therefore, you must have respect for the school. And along with it, the owner and a teacher herself, no?

So, I bailed on the Mean Mommies. I went back to Sarah's original class, ran with open arms to my clique of Nice Mommies. They greeted me with hugs and we laughed about the Mean Mommies. Mary heard us and winked. I teased the 'receptionist' that I was going to bring in a buffet the next week.

But still, I feel some sorrow for them. What a small, small life they must live. It seems like they are filling it with things and names, money and price tags. I enjoyed my time exchanging laughs about Target jeans (only for those without hips) and Kohl's jeans (they have a comfort waist band that stretches!) rather than bitching about who's husband is a cardiologist and who's is a neurosurgeon and why they are not better.

One more thing. As moms, shouldn't we be supporting each other? This is one tough job. I have yet to meet a mom who truly does it with grace 24/7. (If she says she does, she's lying or has 8 nannies.) It's heart wrenching and difficult and frustrating. We don't get a paycheck and most times we don't even get a thank you. So shouldn't we get the support of the other mom's like us? Why treat other moms like they are less? The simple fact that we were all in the same room attempting to instill a skill in our daughters that we found important should have been enough for politness, if not kindness.

Kim

*disclaimer: I am not saying that if you wear high end designer labels you are like this. I too, would like to own a pair of Prada shoes. But NOT at the cost of my heart.