Sometimes I’m at the park or a kid’s birthday party and I end up in a chat with another mom, and that’s cool, I like to chat. Sometimes though, within moments, it becomes clear that we aren’t here to “chat” but rather engage in a pissing match to determine WHO EXACTLY IS THE BETTER MOTHER.
You. You are the better mother. No comparison. Now can we move on?
Round II: Who has the better children.
You win, lady. You’re better and your kids are clearly WAY better.
I don’t want to play.
I don’t care how “gifted” your son is (A master of standardized testing?! Oh Em Gee!) and how your daughter plays tennis and you’re taking her out of school because surely she is going to the Olympics.
She’s not going to the Olympics. Nobody goes to the Olympics.
Or maybe she will. Whatever.
My kid told me the other day she wishes she could take her ear off so she could “chew on the squishy part.”
No seriously I don’t care about your kids’ grades and I don’t care about how they skipped this and that and whatever the hell.
I chose my kid’s school based on the quality of their special ed program. Wanna talk about that? I didn’t think so.
Do I seem angry? I’m not.
But I am TIRED. Tired of that feeling. Tired of that “oh here we go” realization like a wave over me. Here we go, into the bullshit. Into the masquerading, the fronting, the posturing, omitting and censoring.
Pretty sure I just dropped my 3rd F-bomb.
I TRY people I TRY.
Not really actually.
If I manage to withhold ill-timed expletives, I pretty much immediately say something I probably should have kept inside. Usually I think I’m being funny. Or, I think I’m commiserating with another mom.
(She does not think I’m funny.)
For example, I may say: “Lord do they EVER stop talking? I told them yesterday if they don’t stop talking for 5 minutes I’m going to saw my own ears off. I thought that was something of a win. Out of shock they stopped talking for 2.5 minutes.”
“Well developmentally it’s important to engage your children in age-appropriate….”
FUCK ME SIDEWAYS LADY I surrender.
I think I’m just old. I have fewer fucks to give with each year that passes, and I started with a limited number, I assure you. And I have 4 kids now, which means all my parental delusions of grandeur have been reduced to “Why does my car still smell like old apples?”
Yes. That is my kid standing on top of the monkey bars and NO, no I don’t care that he’s there and YES, yes I know he could potentially fall but can you not see what’s beneath him?
Sand. Motherfucking SAND.
Look, if I had known we were gonna do this I would have remained on the bench gazing lovingly into my iPhone so you could have judged me from afar. But you engaged me and I thought “Oh, okay, human interaction. But now I see my whole role here is to help you establish your superiority.”
The problem is I have nothing to prove. I mean I’m like on the ground. I’m just like here. Being a human.
We’re at the park, stuck here with tiny insane half-naked sticky dictators, WHY MUST WE PLAY the ‘Who’s got the biggest penis’ VAGINA STYLE game?”
This is not fun. Can’t we just be friends?
No, no we cannot. Clearly, because you just launched into telling me about how your 3-year-old taught herself to read.
OBVIOUSLY A GENIUS, now CanIBitchAboutMyHusbandPLEASE?
No? Well, I’m so glad you explained how the Paleo diet altered the course of your lives.
I’d totally get behind the Paleo diet if it allowed more frosting.
I do like bacon though.
Let’s talk about Bikram and barre.
I’m still in maternity clothes and had my baby a year ago. Now do you or do you not have a croissant to go with my head-sized iced coffee?
My face says “I’m out.” I mumble. Uh huh. Yeah. Wow. Sure.
Your baby slept through the night at 3 months? Sleep trained since birth? AMAZING. Mine is 12 months and nurses approximately 94% of the night and yes it sucks (haha see what I did there?) and no I’m not planning on doing anything about it. But thank you for the book recommendation.
Do you ever feel like you just don’t want to play? You know, the games? The human games (because of course men do this too)? The one-upping, the let’s establish hierarchy and determine who’s best? The stroke my ego while I diminish yours?
Whatever it is. All of it, but with the nice clean polish of friendly banter.
I just don’t understand WHY we have to do it. We’re both humans standing here with kids and bodies and minds and life is hard and parenthood is gorgeous AND bullshit and you and I both know you don’t know what the hell you’re doing any more than I do so why can’t we just let THAT be? Why can’t we just hang out in “I feel your pain” land and enjoy the adorable little monsters bolting around?
I know. I know this is just small talk, but if we can spend 20 minutes in a passive-aggressive verbal gymnastics, we can just as easily spend 20 minutes in LET’S BE REAL with each other.
I wish I could say: “I am a super fucking friendly person. You’ve got nothing to prove with me, lady. I’m just here for the kid silence.”
And if that doesn’t work, maybe we could have a code word, so like-minded moms like me (and probably you if you’ve read this far) can call to one another as a form of rescue. Like a mother life raft. Something we can shout when we’re cornered by Over-Zealous Preschool Mom or Why Aren’t Your Kids Dressed in Organic Hemp Mom or Attachment Parenting Zen Goddess Mom and then, when we hear it, we can run to each other’s sides and be like Was I paged?
Maybe “Jack Daniels.” Quick, probably not going to be said often at kid events. Catchy. Memorable.
I can see it now:
Her: “I chose xxx school because of the GATE program because Johnny skipped 2 grades.”
Me: “Jack Daniels.” (Looks around nervously.)
Her: “My husband is a physicist and next week we’re going on a vacation to New Zealand with the nanny but I’m just having a really hard time packing Waldorf-approved airplane play bags for the kids!”
Me: “JACK DANIELS!”
Her: “Do you have health insurance because you know what your kid is doing is really unsafe and clearly you don’t care.” (that actually happened.)
Me: “JACK MOTHERFUCKING DANIELS!!!”
And then you’ll come to my rescue. And we’ll be friends.
Sweet. See you at the next kid thing.
Rocket’s face: Me during the one-upping conversations.
HEY, my writing workshop is open again.
Begins July 22.
Here’s what people are saying:
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JOIN US. It’s already half full!