Is There Really, Actually, Truly a Plague of Mommy Mean Girls?

posted in: Challenges, Motherhood | 1

Read this piece by Julie Suratt for Boston Magazine and you might think so. That in the suburbs there is an absolute glut of mom cliques every bit as catty and underhanded as the ones some of us encountered in middle school.

After all, in Suratt’s own suburban mom experience there seems to be an overabundance of what she describes as cool moms. Whose apparent coolness, judging by the wording of article, stems from things like Lululemon zip-fronts, iced lattes, Prada, and having all the time in the world. And yet all that apparent coolness is actually just a front for straight up coldness. She writes:

It turns out that suburban life is dictated by the kind of tribal behavior I thought we’d grown out of: popular girls and their obsequious minions willing to do anything to fit in. But this time, with kids, money, and jobs on the line, the stakes are even higher. And so you have countless grown women cowering behind their beautifully trimmed hedges in bucolic towns around Boston, trying to avoid getting “fired” from their friend circle while simultaneously hating every minute they have to spend with those ladies who lunch. It’s a mom-eat-mom world out there…

Except is it? Is it really?

Or is it a mom-eat-mom world for the moms who see the perfectly coiffed mama stepping out of her perfect car with her perfect handbag and mistake her perfectly polished exterior for warmth within? Aspirational friendship. It’s a term I think I may have made up, but whether I borrowed it or invented it, Suratt’s article is full of it. And by IT I mean moms choosing their friends based on some vision of motherhood that they aspire to – whether in terms of finance or fashion or fitness or otherwise – so they glom on to moms who have it and, I guess, hope like hell that those moms bring them into the exclusive inner circle.

Sort of like middle school all over again. Get in with the popular crowd and get popular, but risk total social suicide in the process.

Except that Suratt admits way way wayyyyy down at the very bottom of her article, in the very last paragraph in fact, that most of the moms she knows don’t fit into the Queen Bee mold she spends roughly 4,500 words describing as some scourge of suburbia. So which is it? Is she “knee-deep in mean-girl antics” or does the real truth come out when a friend worries about moving out of the city and her response is to reassure her that the majority of women she knows are not actually jostling for alpha status in suburban mommy cliques.

I mean, either there are roving bands of mean girl mommies roaming the streets of my town that I haven’t ever noticed because a. I am too uncool to be noticed by them (in which case, yay) or b. I am actually one of them (doubtful) OR this was some serious clickbait bullshit wrapped up in the guise of a serious lifestyle article.

There was only one paragraph in the entire piece that did not strike me as total sensationalist nonsense meant to stir up some new battle in the Mommy Wars. And most of that paragraph is a quote from a social worker.

That’s why the minute our children are born, we begin to search for like-minded women, a journey that binds some moms together and isolates those who can’t keep up. “When you have a kid, it’s like going back to high school,” says Deborah Hurowitz, a social worker who leads support groups for parents in Greater Boston. “Everybody is scrambling to figure out who they are, how they’ll fit in, and who they want to be friends with.”

Hurowitz – who in my mind is now wondering why she chose to lend her voice to something titled ‘ The Terrifyingly Nasty, Backstabbing, and Altogether Miserable World of the Suburban Mom’ – is telling the God’s honest truth here when she says becoming a mom can mean going back to square one in terms of personal identity. What new mom hasn’t wondered who she is now, especially if she finds herself in a position where she needs to build a support system from scratch. We’ve said it before and we’ve said it again: finding mommy friends can be hard. Really hard. But that doesn’t mean you need to work your ass off to be friends with people who are nasty.

There are mean girl moms and mom cliques everywhere, of course, and not just in suburbia, because there are mean people and simpering hanger on types and bullies everywhere. Suratt’s article turns a very real problem – adult bullying – into a fluffy, silly upper class bored suburban and easy to dismiss housewife problem. My big fear is that people will read the original piece and it’s going to give them yet another reason to judge moms and women in general. This is not a SAHM problem. This is not a suburbia problem. This is not a problem unique to the 1%. It’s not even an issue unique to moms.

As a mom, new or otherwise, you need to ask yourself what’s more important… finding amazing mom friends you can count on or fitting into some mold of perfect motherhood you’ve created in your own head?

I know which is more important to me – it’s a big part of what inspired me to create something like Mom Meet Mom. No mom should ever think that ingratiating herself with the local clique, nice or not, is her one and only chance at finding friendship, support, and fun during the new mother years.

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