gossip mom

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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 Don't Know How She Does It
“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.

Damages Glenn Close

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:

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.

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

Mean Moms
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)
Desperate Housewives
Gossip Girl
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)

Adult Friendships
Steel Magnolias
St. Elmo’s Fire
A League of Their Own



  1. 1. It starts in preschool. Any school. Except daycare. Because those parents rarely see each other enough to know about or bother with gossiping.

    2. My thing is to ignore. I feel like Lloyd Dobbler but I don’t want to be in a group, part of a group, or leading a group. I will be on the periphery, like a sarcastic, voice of reason, ghost. I don’t include or exclude- I do my own thing. If others are there, great, if not, my only-child kid will make a new friend(s) anywhere we happen to be. I’m not worried about or interested in climbing the mommy social power ladder for his sake. He’ll be fine.

    3. Everyone talks. They just do. I don’t think it’s insecurity. Or trying for intimacy. It could just be having opinions. And idle chatter. Some people ARE just a-holes. But in not being part of a clique, I don’t care enough to be too bothered long-term.

  2. I’ll never have the mama drama–no kids–but I hear it is like high school all over again. Good luck with that, I am sure you’ll zing them with snarky new york sarcasm. They’ll never know what hit them :D

  3. I’m so flipping happy all of my darlings are in college or beyond. I delight in the fact that I will never be guilted into the PTA dues, the bake sales, the endless mindless drivel that the children will never remember or care about but scars and scares moms into paralysis. This time will come for you as well…18 is a magical age!

    Meanwhile – thanks for the list of shows to watch – it’s summertime!

  4. Agree with Tara. My son goes to public school (Cedar Park, you know where that is:) and while it was a good kindergarten (he just finished) the mothers there were annoying too. Not all but a few. I would see the same ‘marty moms’ who would be at the school literally as much as the teachers, volunteering and sending endless emails for the same one event. Just exhausting. And I volunteered too I just wasn’t there ALL THE TIME. And the ones who are there all the time became this weird little clique. I would tell my husband , vent about the bullshit they would pull. The weird stares and chilly little comments they give non ‘regulars’. I just ignore and make catty comments to my husband later. It’s more entertaining for me that way and then out of my system. I just roll my eyes at seeing them try and one up each other. And I TRY to have compassion thinking maybe they are compensating for a lack of something, validation from other people. Regardless it’s annoying and I really keep my interactions with them brief and impersonal. I am a very strong personality and don’t do the whole ‘All hail the queen bee’ routine. My son is super outgoing, friendly and well adjusted. If some bitchy mom ever decides to exclude him from a party it won’t affect him. I tell my husband how lucky he is men are NOT like this . It’s just irritating he is so oblivious how bitchy women are whenever they get together in groups.
    You seem to navigate it well though and I admire how you keep making an effort and don’t just avoid (like me!)haha

  5. I could say I’m glad I miss out on a lot of this mama drama since I work full-time. But the drama and gossip at work has to be at least as bad as the gossip in the elementary school. I guess no one is immune!

  6. I’m lucky enough to belong to a group of people that exhibit the best and worst of all behaviors. I include worst in this because it’s taught me a lot about others and about myself.

    I gravitate toward the benign ones. I don’t even need to have much in common with them, just the basic need to support each other and try to refrain from opinions (or at least offering them when not yet asked).

    We seek what we already are, and I’ve been both the good and the bad. These days I try to stick with the nice ones.

  7. I am happy (okay, proud to the point of being haughty) that I never, ever got involved with any committee throughout the years that my two children attended school, from the pre-school years through high school. My son has only two years remaining; my daughter just graduated and is on her way to Mount Holyoke College (her top choice!) next month. The PYA (the equivalent of the PTA in Port Washington), at least at my children’s elementary school, was largely run by women who could see you every day, and never, ever acknowledge you. Most were the self-important, cell phone-yakking, oh-so-busy stay at homes with nannies, who seemed to need a reason for being. I was also a stay-at-home, didn’t have a nanny (but had someone cleaning my house), and for the life of me couldn’t understand their frantic facades. Certainly, there were exceptions, but by and large this was the case. As far as gossip goes, I’m not exactly guilty of it, because I’ve never spread secrets about the lives of these women (as I haven’t been privy to them), but because I make fun of these people openly.

  8. Ugh. This is why I’m not a stay at home mom. This is me being honest here (not trying to be offensive) but I feel like stay at home moms have nothing else going on in their world besides their kids that they need this gossip/mean girl behavior to make life interesting. When you go to work everyday and come home and deal with your kids you don’t have time to entertain such bullshit.

    1. Author

      I think you hit the nail on the head. While I 100% believe that all mothers are “working mothers,” I agree that little dramas are stirred up over nonsense that would otherwise never become a priority or wheel into focus, had that mother worked in a job where there were office politics involved. See, even part-time working moms or moms with flexible schedules who work from home, authors for example, they can easily slip into the gossip ring, ahem.

    2. I’m not sure I agree with this entirely. I don’t have kids, but I do have a job. And the mothers at my work do tend to engage in a Race To The Bottom pretty frequently with who is busier with what kids, what kids require so much more attention, and of course how easy it is for the rest of us who do not have kids.

      I think that, if a person has a propensity to gossip, they will do so with whatever group they feel they can gain an upper hand. And for working moms, that often isn’t the people at school, it is the people at work.

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