Monday, January 16, 2006

Mean Girls

This post has been brewing in my mind for awhile now, but it wasn’t until I talked with a few friends recently that I felt compelled to “blog” it.

I never saw the movie, “Mean Girls”, but I’ve known my share. I’ve even been one a time or two, I’m regret to admit. I’m realizing that mean girls just grow up to be mean mommies. Here are a few examples…

A friend of mine in Michigan was recently at a Bible Study where the ladies were talking about their recent holiday travels. One woman was sharing her harrowing tale of the cross-country road trip with her children who all had a stomach virus. You can color in the details yourself!

As the other moms felt her pain and sympathized, one woman blurted out, “Well, what do you expect when you have your children in public schools?!?” This poor mother just stared at her and finally stammered, “They hadn’t been in school for a week! It was Christmas vacation!” Why did this woman feel the need to simply be mean and self-righteous?

Another friend of mine here in Texas had taken her boys to Chuck E. Cheese (age 2 and 4 at the time) and they were playing on the rides. She was sort of “circling” the place to keep an eye on both of them. When it was time to eat, she gathered her youngest and was carrying him to their table when an older woman approached her.

“Are you his mother?” this woman asked with a harsh look in her eyes. My friend smiled and said, “Yes, I am!!” The older woman proceeded to tell her how she could’ve walked off with her son whom she was “neglecting” as he played. My friend said she could feel the blood rushing to her face with anger. She ended up having a shouting match with this woman – attracting a crowd of parents and children alike.

Once I became a mom, I was surprised at how defensive I could become about my own child, my own way of mothering. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become much more grace-giving to other mothers. We’re all just doing the best we can! It’s such a hard job and I wish we could be more cheerleaders to each other instead of judges and snobs.

From my perspective, moms need to start realizing we are on the same team and stop seeing each other as competition or a threat. Men don’t seem to have this problem. You’ll see other dads in line at stores or restaurants and they say things to each other like, “Man, you’ve got some basketball players there!” or “He reminds me of my boy at that age; aren’t they something?” I’ve never heard of a dad say to another dad, “What’s your problem? Your kids must be in public school!”

I was recently in a restaurant with a friend. I had all three boys by myself and Jonathan (6 months) kept doing this escalating scream/cry that I couldn’t keep quiet as I tried to keep the other two boys quiet and eating, not to mention eat lunch myself.

My friend noticed a woman at a nearby table glaring at me. This is what I mean when I say we aren’t on the same team. How encouraging would it have been to have this woman come over to me and say something kind and reassuring about being a mother of small boys? I could’ve lived on that for a week!

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” is one of my favorite quotes. Being kind can even be as simple as a smile. We can be completely unaware of the expression on our faces, but they communicate volumes. It is not a weakness to be kind! It is a strong act of grace. This world, the women around you, are in desperate need.

6 comments:

Holly said...

Great quote! I'm stealing it.. Who said it???

Janine said...

Yes, I hear ya! I can remember when Allie was just about two years old I would occasionally hang out with a Mom whose oldest child was just a wee little baby. That Mom would act like Allie had a disease that she didn't want her baby to catch and that everything Allie did needed immediate discipline. It's amazing how some people think they know just how to parent other people's kids. I am sure that Mom has changed her tune by now!

Angele said...

I think the moms at my daughter's dance class are snobs; not mean, just a little icy. They all seem to know each other, look fabulous in perfect hair and makeup and trendy clothes-they talk about their kids' activities like it's so important...they're always on time...this must be the Canadian version of soccer moms--let's call them hockey moms. A couple of them used to skate competitively and talk about how starting at age six is sooo late, etc...I cannot relate to these women. It's weird and I don't feel on the same team. I've tried talking to a few of them and it's not working out. Oh well. I guess I'm not their type. How that would've bothered me a few years ago, to not fit in. Now I find it humorous and a little sad too. You're so right about us not being on the same team.

Nate said...

Hey, it's Nate Kingsbury! Your kids look so cool & I am so excited about DOug getting married - what a stud he is. Make sure you tell him that I said hey ok and also can you send me his e-mail. Why are you guys in Texas?

nate

Josh said...

Jeannie,

Melissa gave me permission to write this... but I remember back in our early years at Kalamazoo (before we had kids) and how Melissa felt that there was a group of ladies (we called them the Mother's Club) who never gave her a chance because she didn't have children. (At least we are assuming that... but it's hard to say with these particular women.) I remember her being hurt on occasion because these ladies acted like a) she had nothing meaningful to contribute to their conversation or b) she wasn't even there.

So, mothers can be mean to non-mothers as well. I know it can work the other way around too.

Melissa has learned from that though. She is careful that she doesn't make women without children feel the same way as she did back then.

Angele said...

Josh, thanks for sharing that. It never occurred to that this can happen; I may have been guilty of this on occasion, not on purpose. I'm interested in all people, and love to here what single or as-yet-childless women's lives are like. I'm fascinated with, and love peeking into other people's worlds. It gets a little tiresome in mine sometimes and I like the fresh perspective others not in my shoes have to offer.

Ok, so do you want me to beat some people up for Melissa:) I've never been in a cat fight but I bet I could win:) Love you guys!