One of the things I was dreading about becoming a mom was Mommy Politics.
In many respects, a lot of women never leave high school. They may be older, and have children and homes and cars, but they are still the same girls jockeying for popularity and being catty to each other that they were as teenagers. And that is when you see the Mommy Politics come out.
I was never good at the teenaged girl thing. I didn’t try to be one of the popular girls, and I went to an all-girls high school after one year of a public high school taught me I’d had enough of the cliquey-ness and the popularity contests and all that. An all girls’ school leaves you lots of room to be anonymous and blend in, and there’s usually a group for everybody so there’s little exclusion.
But now that I am a mom, I am noticing it still exists, and among grown women who you’d think would know better.
We have a neighbour who is not a very nice woman. She’s always jockeying to be the Queen Bitch of the Cool Mommies Club. She has a reputation as a nasty gossip, and if you watch her body language as you approach, you will see that same lean-in heads-together whispering-behind-the-hand that you remembered the “cool” girls did to you in high school.
I do not like her, having seen her bitchiness in action for years now. And it’s pretty clear that she doesn’t like me. It could be because I am not a girly mom, or I am fat, or I don’t dress well, or maybe because I became a mom later than the rest. I don’t know. Doesn’t really matter.
She is friends with the woman across the street, who has two small children, one of whom is Stinkerbelle’s age, and the other who is four. Sometimes, the kids and their mom will come out and talk to us, or come across the way and let the kids play all together in front our our house.
And invariably, at these times, The Queen will come out of her house up the street, and holler at the four-year-old, interrupting whatever conversation that might be going in between his mother and I. But what is more irritating is that she will call him to come over and see her.
What that does is take the four-year-old out of the play mix. So then, his little two-year-old sister will follow. And that means, their mom will have to follow and at best, retrieve them, but usually stand and supervise as they get involved with playing at The Queen’s house.
And that leaves little Stinkerbelle, standing alone in our yard, with nobody to play with. All because this woman does not like me.
Now, Stinkerbelle is two. I am working hard to set boundaries for where she can play safely, and she is very good about obeying those boundaries. So this woman knows, if she calls the kids away, Stinkerbelle cannot follow.
She’s not proven in the past to be a nice person, so I don’t want Stinkerbelle over there at the best of times. But it is a matter of principle for me to ensure that I stick to consistent boundaries and not allow Stinkerbelle to wander out of the safety of our yard, so even if this woman was not so horrid, I still feel it is important to keep to the rules when out with That Baby.
I have tried to wander over to this woman’s house when she has done this in the past, supervising and extending the boundaries in order to allow That Baby to continue playing with her friends. But when that happens, The Queen makes a point of ignoring her anyway. So what happens is that Stinkerbelle is left standing in a stranger’s driveway while her friends are taken up onto the porch or into the garage and read to or played with or whatever.
In those times that I have tagged along, The Queen has made a point of manipulating the conversations with the mom of Stinkerbelle’s two playmates to things that the two of them have in common and, essentially, excluding me from their conversation. Or, more pointedly, taking our mutual neighbour aside completely to leave me standing with nobody to talk to.
It’s all very high school. And so I choose not to play. When she comes out now, I stick to the rules — Stinkerbelle must stay within her boundaries, and I stay and play with her. At least, if she and I stay in our yard, she still can run and play, even if it is just with me, and neither of us gets treated like shit.
And since I am not a very social sort, it’s not a big deal for them to ignore me. But what is hard is watching my little girl, who was having such a lovely playtime with her little friends, suddenly left standing, alone, on the sidewalk.
I can handle the cruelty and the bitchiness of high school. I have been there, and moved on. But my little girl has years to go before she should have to deal with the cattiness of other women. It breaks my heart to see her open, trusting face fall as she, at the age of two, falls victim to Mommy Politics.