When Nice Moms Turn Cliquish

Last night a comedy club hosted a night out for the moms in my neighborhood. I was looking forward to hanging with friends and meeting some new ones. I had also heard that a local mom was a co-owner of the place, and although I hadn’t met her yet, I was psyched for the opportunity to support her business. (I dream of launching my own business one day, and I find moms who have reached that goal to be really inspiring.) The event was scheduled for 8, which meant I could feed Mason and play with him before I headed over to the place, so I actually felt less guilty about going.

Unfortunately, what I encountered when I got to the club was not at all what I had unexpected.

A  friend and I arrived about 15 minutes early. After we were seated, we noticed that the front of the small venue was occupied by a group of women who were clustered together, chatting and laughing. Some moms were seated in the tables behind them, sort of just sitting there because they clearly didn’t know the group up front. My friend and I walked over to the larger group to introduce ourselves, but the reception was pretty icy. Finally, a woman stood up from their table and introduced herself as the co-owner.

“This is my mom’s group,” she said, waving her hand around the table.

We immediately felt like outcasts. We tried to make small talk with her and her friends for a few more minutes but  finally gave up and walked back to our table. I’m hoping that she, at least, had no intention of being so exclusive. Perhaps she was just caught up in the excitement of hosting her friends at her new club, and she didn’t stop to think about how those of us that she didn’t know would feel sitting on the fringes.

I enjoyed seeing my friends and meeting the awesome ones sitting next to us, but I was a little disappointed. My friends and I had left our kids at home to hang out with mean girls. As I watched the little clique, I wondered whether I had made other moms feel excluded in the past, too. After all, I have a small, chummy group of friends within the larger neighborhood network, but we feel like we’re always friendly and inclusive of others. What if we’re wrong? I want other moms around me to feel supported, not excluded. It was a good reminder to reach out to a mom I don’t know the next time I’m at the playground, or maybe buy the mom with the newborn a cup of coffee the next time I see her at our local coffee shop.

Have you been in a situation where you’ve felt left out by other moms?

Photo: Group of friends via CREATISTA /Shutterstock

10 Moms to Avoid (Or Just Ignore)

Yes, this blog is about cooking for babies and toddlers. But sometimes you’ve just gotta break the rules and today is my day to go rogue. Roll with me on this one: My next post will be on topic, I promise.

I’ve been a mom for 14 months now and I’m convinced I’ve met every type of mom out there. Most moms I meet are amazing. But a few encounters that I’ve had recently have convinced me that there are certain types of moms who must be avoided, or, at the very least, ignored. These moms are unsupportive, unhelpful, and even toxic to your health and happiness. Here they are, along with ideas on how to deal with them if you must. Watch out: If you haven’t met them already, chances are you will.

1. The critical mom. My neighbor admitted to another mom (in a new mom support group) that she pumped her breast milk instead of nursing so she could tell how much her son was eating. The mom she confided in spent the next 10 minutes berating her  for  “depriving her son of the nutritious fats that baby only gets from nursing.” Really? Really? Solution: Smile and excuse yourself to go to the restroom, grab a glass of water, whatever. And avoid confiding in this mom again.

2. The smug mom. A mom in my building whose 11-month-old daughter walks was shocked to discover my 14-month-old does not. After she grilled me on whether I was worried that my son was behind — as I was balancing a sick baby in one arm and loading vomit-covered clothes into a washing machine with the other — she assured me condescendingly that he was “probably” fine. For the record, he is. Solution: Don’t get defensive, instead try “How exciting that [Anna] is walking. Soon she and [Mason] will be chasing each other around!”

3. The antisocial mom.  I made the mistake of asking an aloof mom at daycare how she planned to celebrate her kid’s upcoming first birthday. She reacted as if I had just asked her for her Facebook password. In blood. Solution: Make a graceful exit from the conversation and do your best to avoid this mom at pick-up and drop-off. You can’t win.

4. The buzz-kill mom. A first-time mom I know joined a mommy-to-be group at 7 weeks pregnant. After my friend introduced herself to the group another mom looked pointedly at her and announced that she miscarried her first baby at nine weeks. It’s awful that the mom in her group lost a pregnancy but telling another pregnant mom a horror story is never OK.  Solution: Be sympathetic but keep in mind that every pregnancy is different; one tragedy does not make another.

5. The perfect mom. She’s at your local playground (twice a day, natch!), with a bag full of homemade organic snacks. Her kid is a better walker, talker, eater — you name it! — than yours and she’s more than happy to share how your kid can be just as perfect — if you give her the chance. Solution: Change the subject. If that doesn’t work, let your kid guide you to another part of the playground.

6. The backstabbing mom. She is the biggest offender of all. She’s your best friend/biggest supporter when you’re around but as soon as you’re out of sight (or earshot) she’s picking your parenting prowess apart. Solution: Run — don’t walk — away. If she’s criticizing another mom it’s only a matter of time until she’s criticizing you, too.

7. The insensitive mom. A friend with a chronic illness confided in another friend that she felt guilty for taking medication during her pregnancy. The other mom replied, “Oh I never could have done that. I couldn’t have lived with myself if something had been wrong with my baby.” Solution: Of course every mom wants to do what’s best for her baby, and part of that is taking care of herself, too. Turn to friends you can trust for support — and tune out the rest.

8. The negative mom. Occasional griping is perfectly normal and perfectly acceptable — but this mom is always complaining about her kid, her marriage, her job, blah, blah, blah. Being around her can actually make you feel more stressed out/depressed/negative, too. Solution: Don’t waste your time on a mom who brings you down. Surround yourself with moms who lift you up instead.

9. The judgmental mom. Her way is the only way. Period. Hot button topics that she loves to debate include breastfeeding, sleep habits, and developmental milestones. Solution: Unless you’re up for a debate, it’s easier to just smile and nod while you’re around her — and get away as quickly as possible.

10. The worst-case-scenario mom. What if her three-month-old doesn’t get into the right kindergarten? What if her kid tries finger foods and chokes? What if the stranger in the park is actually a kidnapper? Solution: If she’s a good friend, try to help her put it all into perspective — all moms worry, after all. Otherwise minimize the amount of time you spend around her. A constant worrier only adds to your stress.

Is it just us New York City moms, or have you met toxic moms, too? Share your story — and how you handled the situation!