Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mom's Clubs AKA Moms Who Whine

There is an old saying, “I’d never want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.”  I think that finding a club – mom’s group, book club, stitch-n’bitch, etc. can be the grown-up’s version of a pseudo-sorority. Instant belonging and acceptance to a group of somewhat like-minded people.  Perhaps we envision deep meaningful talks, great camaraderie and that instant intimate bond and lifelong friendships.  What we often get – at least in my experience – is a slightly more adult version of high school. 

You have your Queen Bees who clearly rule the group and around whom all key decisions are made.  These are not bad women – they may be the friendliest or most outspoken, the one who started the group or simply the ones with the most time.  Regardless, you will befriend at least one Queen Bee.  Then you have your Voice of Reason,  often a long time group member who has seen the club evolve.  She may be older or more seasoned and offer a perspective much like a parent offers to a group of disgruntled teens.  There are always the eager beavers –newbies who jumps right in and participate at the maximum level in whatever way is appropriate for that group. She may have joined with the quiet one, a member who doesn’t speak up often but when she does, it’s most appreciated.  More reserved and soft-spoken, it seems as if she would be most comfortable in the shadows but she is really the strong and silent type and has a larger influence than others initially thought.  I will admit to being each of these in different groups while is some situations I am a lurker – staying informed, piping up once in a while and occasionally participating.

There is my single moms group – a wildly diverse group with super strong opinions and even more resources and support.  These are focused, smart and independent women who are determined to meet their personal goals regardless of or despite their current circumstances.  Like any group, there are conflicts. Now imagine those conflicts with a large group of women who are willingly and wildly hormonal - emotions all over the place - and all thinking, trying, being or have recently become single mothers.  This is a sit-com waiting to happen.

When I moved here, I joined a local mother’s group to meet new people.  This is mostly an online forum though there are a large number of moms that connect in real life.  There I met E, a hilariously funny mom with whom most would think I have nothing in common.  We are years apart in age, don’t live near each other, don’t share a ton of interests and sit on different sides of the political fence. But, as E has said more than once, we want the same thing – we just think we should get there differently.  My daughter loves to play with E’s girls and every time we spend time together, we agree we need to do that more often.  And the group we were part of? Well, uh, I got booted out because well, I got snarky (it was more than well deserved snarkiness).  I wasn’t alone and another, snarkier off-shoot was started with a bunch of cool mom’s who are a lot more real, a lot more honest and where smart-assedness is welcome and appreciated.  It’s way more fun. 

But really, the funniest, wackiest mom’s group has got to be those of the parent-teacher organization sort. Oh. My. God.  This is truly high school for grown ups. There is competition, questionable fashion choices, bitchiness (several steps beyond snarkiness) and the ultimate in Queen Bees – all in the name of supporting our children.  Really?  God help if you live in the wrong part of the school district, work full-time, let your child dress him/herself or don’t fully embrace each and every opportunity to adore the teacher, buy some cookie dough or host a carnival booth.  Luckily, I met M at my daughter’s first elementary school – our kids were in the same kindergarten.  She was as normal and neurotic as me – and we had similar parenting attitudes.  We mocked while others twittered about. We laughed while rocking some cool classroom parties. Our kids are now in different schools but we still share elementary angst and make fun of other parents.  We actually went out for drinks with said kindergarten teacher. Uh, that won’t likely happen again but we still laugh about it.  I guess that makes us Moms Who Mock. Hmmm….is there another blog in there?

At the end of the day, moms group friends are pretty damn cool.  I don’t know where those friendships will lead or if they will survive as our kids grow.  I do know that these moms have talked me off the ledge on more than one occasion.  Because no one offers advice or perspective better than a harried mother who is sleep deprived because she was baking cupcakes or making a diorama. Or, doing the pre-assembly for some holiday party gingerbread houses while talking a fellow mom through a rough patch. She may have been working at night because she was volunteering in the class during the day or she may have had a rare mom’s night out and drank too much wine.  What I know for sure is that it’s likely she has a caffeine content in her body that should be illegal. And, her advice will be spot on.

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