Never shy, I swam up to the semi-circle of pregnant ladies in my prenatal water aerobics class noting that while they were all a good deal older than me, they all looked reasonably friendly, and introduced myself. “Hi,” I said cheerfully. “My name is Becky, and I’m 6 months pregnant with my first son, Ben!” I don’t know if they spied my lack of wedding ring or were put off by my age, but not a single one responded to me. I might as well have spoken in tongues or have burped the alphabet.

While my situation wasn’t perhaps ideal, I wasn’t sorry and I wasn’t about to apologize to anyone for it. But just as soon as I joined the semicircle, I quickly found myself wedged out of it, treading water just outside of the group. It was the playground all over again. Looking back on it, I told myself that I must have imagined it.

Three years later, my new husband and I walked into a roomful of parents at back-to-school night for Ben’s new preschool and took our seats, smiling happily. We’d not had a lot of other chances to interact with large groups of other parents before this, and while we were nervous, we were both very excited. Oddly, as we sat there among them, we noticed that we were receiving a number of unfriendly stares.

Trying to shrug it off, we listened to the director of the Montessori school lecture us, before we broke off into our volunteer groups to discuss what we were going to do for class projects. My husband and I split up and I headed over to my group.
Happily, I introduced myself and tried to make small talk with the other members of the group. Slowly, I realized that as I stood there nodding and smiling with a big stupid grin on my face, no one was actually talking to me, and I was being edged out of the group.

The circle closed with me clearly on the outside and I stood there for a second, still nodding like a fool. I tried to edge my way back into the group to no avail, but eventually, I gave up. Thankfully, I wasn’t in a swimming suit this time but I wondered why no one wanted to be my friend.

Confounding matters was my son, who was autistic, which made playdates with the few friends that we had tricky. The snide comments about the things he’d eat, or the meltdowns he’d have or the way he’d behave broke my heart. Yes, he was in therapy and no, he wasn’t like their children, and while I tried to pretend it didn’t matter, it was hard and it was lonely for a long time.

So really, it’s no surprise that when I drop my son off at school, I’m always waiting for the crowd of pitchfork-wielding parents to emerge from the playground to yell “get back in the car, Infidel! You don’t belong here.” Much as I’ve shed the insecurities of feeling like I’m a stranger in a strange land, I have a terrible time feeling like I’m an impostor of a parent when I’m around other parents.

Three children later, I realize that it’s clearly time to get my act together. I cannot allow the past events dictate the way that I live my life as a mother because I’m not an insecure person and I’m not an insecure mother.

I’m putting on my battle armor and getting myself out there so that I can meet other parents in the flesh. Time for me to join The Mommy Club. I’ve done an amazing job doing it through my blog, so I know that I’m not that defective, but I’m just not quite sure where to meet other parents without looking like a freak. I can’t exactly size up a potential New Best Friend by staring at her for the whole hour at story hour without scaring her off and perhaps landing me a fancy restraining order.

Couldn’t really blame her there.

I wonder if it’s this hard for other parents to make friends. I don’t have leprosy or gaping pustules dripping from my face, and while I certainly do have faults, they’re not the sort that one would notice off the bat. But it’s time for me to face my fears and deal with them.

I’m sure I’ll be excluded from plenty more parental circles and that’s okay because I’ve learned to make sure that anyone who ever wants to join my group of friends is included. No matter what.

But, I guess I’ll make anyone with leprosy wear a mask.

Comments = full of the awesome. Like gravy. I can haz an RSS RSS feed .

18 Responses to The (Judgmental) Mommy Club

  • Mari says:

    Those people dont know a great person when they see one then. i been reading your blog, as if i were close to you, i would invite you into our circle. while i dont have the issues your having, i am sure its hard and isolating.

  • Maria K. says:

    Oh, I was invited to join a book club. It was a disaster. I was told it was more of a social group, we’d eat, drink, discuss the book for those interested. Christ, I’m busy – I didn’t read the fucking book. I was asked to come anyway. One of the moms, I will call stupid bitch, judged me so harshly I finally looked at her and said – - (By the way it was that book that Julia Roberts did the movie…about the author that is given a big fat advance to go overseas to get over herself and her divorce – BLECK.) Anyway – I addressed the stupid bitch:
    “Listen, stupid bitch, I didn’t read the fucking book, I did not rent the fucking movie and I make no apologies. I’m fucking busy raising my kids and working.”

    I had a lovely evening drinking vodka, eating and visiting, but needless to say, I was dropped from their email list and not invited back. I love making friends. :)

    I’m giving another mom’s group a try. They basically just want to drink and visit. On my way there now!

    • Your Aunt Becky
      Twitter: mommywantsvodka
      says:

      Bwahahahaah!

      I tried to join a Book Club (which is NOT my thing) with my neighbor. I was all, YAY, NEED FRIENDS, PLEASE?

      And she was all, “okay, works for me! I’ll let you know!”

      And I was all, “be sure to let me know! I’m going to buy the stupid POS book.”

      Never. Heard. From. Her. About. It.

      Ever.

  • Kristin says:

    OMG I totally thing we might be twins. This is my life. My oldest daughter with the Aspergers has one friend and I am friends with her mother because she my best friends older sister. Other than that I don’t fit in with other mommies. I don’t know why. I am to juvenile who knows. I don’t want to grow up. Sorry. But I can count my mommy friends on like one hand. And sadly include you as one not because you are one of my mommy friends but because the likelyhood of us hanging is slim LOL. I am always the kid standing outside looking in. Other mommies hate me.

  • Twitch says:

    I am immediately judged as obviously a terrible mother. I mean, Christ! I have piercings! Tattoos! And the real killer. I shave my head. Damn near my whole head. That’s right folks. I am punk rock and I am breeding!

    I have had mothers show up to a park, look at me and announce none to subtly that they are leaving and going to a “better” park.

    It hurts to be judged, especially when I am rather conservatively minded and nice to boot, but I would rather they leave than for my daughter to have to bear witness to their hostilities. That pisses me off more than anything. For these mommies to teach their children their bigotry. For them to tell their children to exclude mine from playground play… I really try to stay sweet and not prove that I am the psychotic the believe I am… But, for serious, these people are way bigger assholes than I look.

    I really wish you lived in Baltimore. We are moving there in April. I think we’d be serious awesomesauce friends.

    • Nakai says:

      Too bad you don’t live closer to me, I’d totally hang with you. I’m the same way, although I don’t shave my head anymore. (Growing out for dread locks)

  • Megan says:

    I find that the older I get and the more isolated I am, the worse I get at trying to make friends. My oldest is four, my youngest is 6 mths and there’s one more in between, and I recently quit my job to stay at home. I can’t go to many story hour events with my too many small children and I can’t seem to break into the group at the community programs. It is so frustrating! I feel your pain. You should start your own national Mommy’s club!!

  • Nakai says:

    That happened to me a few times. When I had my first son, I joined a local “Earthy Mommies” Group that was created by a friend of mine. I soon found out that, although I was “crunchy”, I wasn’t “crunchy” enough. These women would brag about their homebirths and how they are succeeding at breastfeeding… etc. While I sat there and felt guilty about not being able to handle 96 hours of labor at home and caving in and going to the hospital for the epidural. They made me feel like a failure as a mother because I couldn’t breastfeed my son, not for lack of trying mind you. So I decided to find another mommy group and they were too mainstream for me, in that group I felt like a dirt-worshipin tree-hugger. Then my youngest son was born and then came his diagnosis of Autism…. we didn’t fit in anywhere. I don’t even bother anymore. :( The moms I meet online are awesome but I sit and wonder, if we were all in the flesh would we all be as cool to each other as we are when we are online?

  • I can’t think of a club I’d like to join less than a prenatal water aerobics class – so I’m not sure it’s not a compliment to be rejected by that group!

  • Tracey says:

    After I had my third child, who had colic for months, I became depressed. I lived a little over an hour away from my family, I didn’t work but everyone else that I was friends with did, and the moms that did stay home in our neighborhood didn’t really want to socialize. I remembered seeing an advertisement in the Pennysaver for a mom’s club and I couldn’t wait until the next Wednesday when I would receive the Pennysaver and I could join a group and FINALLY make friends! I was lucky enough to find a group of women who were fun and our children got along really well…then, after a few months, it started to feel like High School again! Two of the ladies in the group didn’t drink, and they were fine with everyone else doing it if they wanted to, but they started to not be invited to get together’s because they “didn’t belong.” That was just the start…I, of course saying that I didn’t really feel comfortable with that, started to not be invited to certain events. I went to the park one day and there they were, chatting away and they even tried to pretend they couldn’t see me. It was horrible to have my daughter see her friends and tell her that we couldn’t go over there to play. That was the end of playgroup and mom’s club for me. I now have had four kids in school and I envy the small group of moms who stand in their circle and talk to each other at parties, conferences, etc. I feel like jumping for joy if someone makes eye contact with me and actually smiles…I almost want to stalk them until they give in and be my friend! It’s crazy…I’m not weird…I don’t think I am anyway, so what is the problem? Why is it so hard to become new friends with other women?

  • Sandra says:

    Honestly, it’s not you or your autistic son. It’s the other parents. And those Mommy Groups are THE WORST. I have four kids. I attended all that crap with the first one, and by the second one, I was like, “There’s your older brother. Interact with him.” Honestly, I’d rather be wearing a bathing suit and having them stab me with the pitch-forks than bear one second of the “My kid is better than your kid because he walked at 3 months!” I don’t even sit in waiting rooms with other parents. I’m always on the periphery. I figure if anyone is worth making friends with, they’ll come to me…and yes, I’m still better after 14 years.

  • Alitalyn says:

    And here I thought I was the only one with this problem. Someone should start a group for the misfit mommies. Kinda like the Island of Misfit Toys. Then we can drink and laugh at the other asshole mothers that shunned us.

  • lori says:

    Making other mommy friends is HARD!

  • lori says:

    Making other mommy friends is HARD!

  • Roccie says:

    Woman, you know being in the NW suburbs doesn’t help much!

    I went to my first mom club about this time last year. I had worked smoother fucking hard to get there. I couldn’t wait.

    Cheese and rice, about 10 minutes into it I thought I just might die. Never went back.

    Law, I love being normal.

  • Jen says:

    At the risk of sounding like one of those Internet Moles who comment in order to leave their own story…I have a really hard time making friends. In fact I probably only have one friend who I can count on. But I am not a parent so I don’t even have that as a possible icebreaker. I have pretty much given up. Wow, that sounds really pathetic.
    Anyway, good luck to you!

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