Mama drama is over, or at least, on pause, now that school’s out. At least that’s what I’ve heard from friends around the country, given that I’ve chosen to ignore the mama drama that’s bound to happen when you send your precious littles off to elementary school and beyond. “The parents take to behaving like middle schoolers as soon as your kids graduate Kinder,” says a friend in Austin, whose eldest attended a private Kindergarten and took to the “mean streets” of a first-rate, top-of-the-country, public first grade classroom this year.
“I barely got my pinky toe in the waters of the PTA, and I swear, I felt pissed-on at the get-go.” But why, I wanted to know. “Because everyone’s jockeying for positions of power. Social power. No one cares if you’re PTA president, no honey, no. It’s about what party your kid will be excluded from. Everyone’s an ass-h-o-l-e, I swear to Jesus.” I find it interesting that she chooses to spell “hole” and not “ass,” then swears to Jesus. I argued with my friend, with that reasoning, you are, too.
“When you think about it,” I said, “We’re actually all asses. All we can really do is admit it and try to make amends.” That’s the most important part. I can’t stand women who walk around saying, “So, I’m a bitch, sue me.” No. Admittance isn’t a free pass to be a freewheeling witches brew.
“What do you mean I am too?”
“Every relationship is co-created.” Here she was calling everyone a hole for calling her a hole. If you don’t like the relationship you’re having with anyone, be it your neighbor, the mother of a child with whom your son loves to play, or someone you thought of as a friend but who maybe hurt your feelings by slighting you in some way, you have 50% ownership of how that relationship goes by controlling your end of things. They don’t have all the power. They aren’t in control. Stop giving it away. You need to start re-framing how you see your world.
How do you choose to respond? Do you engage, act mightier than thou? Ignore it? Kill it with kindness? Decide “life is too short” to sweat it? Pretend it doesn’t bother you, but then talk to all your friends about it? Ding to the ding, ding, ding.
Gossip. Gossip. Gossip. That’s what people end up doing. And by people, I mean women. Moms, oh, how they talk. Confession breeds intimacy, so at first, when we rant, we feel closer to our friends. We’re letting them in, cluing them into our frustrations, but really, we’re bitching about other people, and we’re letting our ugly out. And at a certain point, I start to feel dirty. The venting of frustrations can spiral into mean girl mom talk, which might feel good temporarily, hearing everyone validate how much they can’t stand this one or that one, but at the end of the day, do you really like who you are when you stew in such small matters and small minds?
When it’s all out and said and done, vents open, does it ever feel freeing, liberating or clean? If it does, then you’re doing it right. But if it spirals into a trading session of mean bits and pieces, steal yourself away from these conversations. Just imagine what she says about you.
So the next time you’re tempted to go there, ask yourself why? Is it truly that you need to vent or is it that you don’t have enough of your own self-esteem that you need to call another mom for a conversation that begins, “You’re not gonna believe this one…” Stop. Please. Just ask yourself why you’re doing it. I know we bond over it, and we’re able to laugh, but at a certain point it gets old. Mean gets tired. And boring. Before you make that call, where you’re the one with the “important information” the piece of news, the hot bit of gossip, ask yourself why you’re so damn needy for validation, why you don’t feel important without sharing the news, why are you so hungry to hear the words “you’re right?”
Also, keep two things in mind:
1. MOST OF WHAT MOTIVATES PEOPLE IS A NEED TO FEEL IMPORTANT
When you realize this, you can often understand why people make the decisions they do and then take a lot of what they do a lot less personally. You stop thinking, “Hot damn, what a calculating bitch,” and you think, “Okay, she needs this way more than I do.” And miraculously, you wear the whole thing lighter, you’re happier, freer, and so much less bothers you! It’s a beautiful thing.
2. RISK IS WORTH THE RISK, FOR RISK’S SAKE, FORGET THE REWARD
Taking a risk is a risky thing because it means we’re making ourselves vulnerable. It’s scary! It is. It’s very nerve-racking to reach out to people and try, to make plans, to invite people to do things, to try to make new friends. Especially so when you worry about upsetting the social landscape and the network of cliques, but here’s the beauty: risk is worth taking just for the benefit of knowing that you’ve taken the risk. You grow when you take risks. Even if you fail. Even when love isn’t reciprocated. The worst thing isn’t, in fact, having your heart broken. Failure is protecting your heart so much so that you never let it soar.
Besides, good friends are like a B-cup boob. You really only need a handful. BUT, hell, I’m always looking for some extra. My cup runneth over.
When all else fails, get your Mean Mom fix via NetFlix
Damages (Phil & I are absolutely addicted to this. Patty is one mean mama – 5 seasons worth!)
I Don’t Know How She Does It (I love the PTA Mom Stuff & the Lice Stuff & Sarah Jessica Parker)
Revenge (My friend Alexandra watches this show for the interior design inspiration)
Don’t Trust the B in Apt 23 (no moms, but mean girls)
St. Elmo’s Fire
A League of Their Own