Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mother Lode

I can be sensitive. Impatient. I am often prone to hyperbole. Sometimes I jump to conclusions and become unnecessarily defensive. So tell me if I'm off my rocker here.

Today I took H to our class at a local parenting center. The center that I walked into while pregnant and declared the Parenting Theme Park. It's a high-end baby gear store, and they also offer prenatal and mom-and-baby classes for overthinking parents. In truth I love this place and have been blissfully spending lots of time there since before H was born. The classes are great -- lots of fun activities for the babies and time for the moms to meet and share war stories. I've met a bunch of great women this way.

Anyway, today we walked in and the others were already sitting discussing naps, namely the consolidation of two naps to one -- when, how, etc. I got us settled and mostly listened to the conversation, since H and I aren't there yet. At the end, I offered up the fact that I'd done a sleep consult through this center (more on this another time) when we'd had transitional sleep issues in the past and had found it enormously helpful since an actual expert tailors a plan to your child's needs. The woman who'd brought up the topic in the first place with regard to her son looked at me squarely and said, defensively, "See, I don't really think that we have a problem." Okay, then.

Twenty minutes later, we had the kids at a water table the teacher had set up with sudsy water and bath toys. Another mother in the class watched as her son removed a full cup of water from said table, turned around and dumped it on my lap. And then said nothing. I gave her plenty of opportunity, too. I said, "Oh, gee, that was a lot of water on my lap." Not a peep.

People. Am I the insane one?

I don't know what it is, but becoming a mother does often, unfortunately, seem to bring out the crazy in people. Mainly what I see in these parts is an unfortunate testament to all those negative stereotype monikers floating out there: Sanctimommies. Martyr Mommies. Mompetition. It seems like all this choice-making to stay at home has created a new monster of competitive women with a lot of latent energy from their formerly driven career lives to now dedicate, solely and completely, to raising the perfect specimen. And to show how brilliant they are at mothering by demonstrating how everyone else fails to measure up.

Case in point: A woman I'll call Jane, from one of my mom & baby classes early on. I knew Jane was trouble from day one. It's sort of hard to describe how she slowly tortured us all with her nonstop oneupmanship and conversation-hogging blather. But oh, she bugged. Anyway, friends of mine have since run into her in random kid-centered venues. What she does when you see her "off-campus" is, she comes right up to you. Doesn't say hello. And simply says, "Is so-and-so walking/talking/reciting Shakespeare/playing Mozart yet?" and then proceeds to tell you how her little darling is.

Another case in point: A friend of mine recently met another mom in a social setting. They talked about a play date, given that their children were of similar age. But then crazy mom found out that my friend only has one child. Apparently she prefers to consort exclusively with moms who have kept pace with her output and have two children. So, no play date for you!

Okay, it's true, the vast majority of moms I've met have been wonderful women that are quite supportive and nonjudgmental. Maybe it's because I spent so much time and energy watching other women with babies, wanting what they had, that I zero in on this kind of BS and have such little tolerance for it. It annoys me (I am just figuring this out now while I write) because I feel it's distracting from the real mission. I don't want to play the game. I just want to keep my child healthy and try and enjoy the ride.

Motherhood is hard, sisters. It's exhausting and it can be hard to get measurable feedback on how you're doing from the person who really matters. So really, unless you're intentionally (or through lazy neglect) doing something harmful to your child, who am I to judge whether you're giving him the exact right proportion of meat to vegetable today?

I have no idea if any of this is coherent, but how 'bout that for a rant? I can't even blame hormones.


anofferingoflove said...

no, you arent off your rocker. but then again, i am also sensitive, impatient, defensive, and quick to jump to conclusions, so maybe im not the best judge! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Honestly, this is what I am LEAST looking forward to about becoming a mother. I just hope Q. and I can either avoid these people or at least ignore them. I'm glad I have nice normal friends (in real life and on blogs) who feel the same way.

If you're crazy, then I'm right there with you!

Celia said...

I have been avoiding story time at the library for fear of running into these women. I looked on meetup for a play group and it was all those creepy ubermoms.

You know, I want Peter Pants to succeed and all that jazz, but the two smartest children I knew grew up to be socially unhappy and still live with their parents at age 30. Kinda smart is just fine by me. I refuse to compete. I just want to find some compromise Moms- not chaining their kid to the radiator, not decoupaging the Greek alphabet on their strollers. Some time for a laugh I wil ltell you about my neighbor.

Jamie said...

I know just what you mean. I have honestly been scared away from a play group at the library because of the mommy 'in club.' I swear it was like being at high school again. Once, I had a mother at a playground look at Skeeter and go, "My! Isn't your face dirty!" Seriously? Because if you have ever been able to completely clean a teething biscuit off of the face of an 8 month old, then you are a super hero in disguise.

As much as I talk about socializing Skeeter, it's my fault we mostly hang around my one friend that has two boys close to his age. I just can't bear the vicious mommies.

Roccie said...

I am sorry it happens but it feels good to hear it summed up so clearly. Nice one on the pent up ambition!

I apparently have a verbal whiz on my hand w Toddlerina and now the mom who invited us on a playdate might have blackballed us. Ha!

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