Eight years ago I put my oldest on the bus to Kindergarden. Next Wednesday I’ll do the same with my youngest. When Ben started school, I was the young mom. I wasn’t 16 and pregnant, but I had just turned 22 when he was born, so the majority of the moms of his peers have always been 10-20 years older than I am. With Jonas I’m much closer to the average age of moms of his friends, which is fairly fucking depressing.
I have, however, learned a thing or two about my fellow moms in the last eight years, as my hair has gone gray and it’s become increasingly inappropriate for me to shop in the Junior section at Target (not that it stops me). Primarily, I’ve learned which of them to avoid.
So, as a service to all the moms of kids newly entering the world of academia:
Five Moms to Hide from at Parent/Teacher Night
1. Competitive Mommy – She smiles and shakes her head when you ask if the empty seat next to her is taken. She seems friendly and normal, so you strike up a conversation. Your first red flag is when you tell a story about searching for the perfect Cars backpack because it’s your kid’s favorite movie ever and her eyes grow wide and she says, “Oh… we don’t allow our kids to watch TV or movies.” The next one is when you mention your struggles to get your kid to eat anything in non-nugget form and looks stricken and says, “Sammy’s never eaten at McDonalds. EVER.”
It’s not her parenting choices in particular that are bothersome. We all know eating healthy and not indulging in too much media are positive things for the growth of our children. And hey, we can have different parenting methods and be friends. There’s no reason co-sleepers and sleep-trainers can’t get along in this progressive day and age. Some of my besties are baby-wearers (not that there’s anything wrong with it). No, the problem is the indictment in her tone. It’s the absolute certainty with which she wields her techniques. She is both correct, and perfect in her correctness, at least as far as she is concerned.
She makes me want to smuggle chicken nuggets, fries and a Sprite into school, feed them to her precious Sammy and YouTube it when he drinks the sweet and sour sauce from the environmentally incorrect plastic cup with glee (because who wouldn’t, that shit is delicious).
Competitive Mommy is to be avoided for your personal sense of self-worth, sanity and eventually, her own well-being, because occasionally I have to resist the urge to slap a bitch when she gets that self-righteous.
2. PTO Ladies – In a particularly hormonal moment, after watching a beautiful Lifetime movie about a lonely teacher and the friendship she strikes with a sassy emo student with a learning disability, you think to yourself, I really need to get it together and contribute to my kid’s education. Teachers are important and they need help. I’m going to volunteer with the PTO and be part of the educational solution in this country instead of part of the problem.
12 minutes into the first PTO meeting you figure out it is attended by:
7 women who are best friends and whose kids are best friends
1 woman who is determined to argue with everything anyone proposes
3 women who wish they were BFFs with the core 7
2 of you who aren’t sure how the hell you’d gotten there or what is going on
1 divorced dad who seems to be there only to troll for MILFs
They plan the fall pool party and discuss whether they can get the embroidery contract for the uniforms switched to a different vendor. You stab yourself in the hand with a ballpoint pen to keep from falling asleep.
It turns out PTO is the student council of parenting. It’s a popularity contest where they don’t actually have any power. Avoid the PTO Ladies unless you’re bored and interested in throwing yourself fully into befriending the Mommy Mean Girls (definitely avoid the Desperate Divorced Dad. He’s just gross.).
3. Drama Mama – At first you really like this mom. She seems like she wants to commiserate about how tough parenting and marriage is. She has some interesting dramatic stories about health things her kids have gone through and she confesses in detail about that time she walked in on her husband and best friend having sex. But by the second or third time you see her, you realize she’s a drama magnet. She wants you to react with horror to her stories and rub her back as she gets teary. The problem is, there’s only so much ‘there, there-ing’ one woman can do before her sympathy reservoir runs dry.
Don’t worry about Drama Mama, though, she was born with a sense for when you can no longer give her what she needs and will quickly move on to a new friend who can react with an appropriate level of shock and awe to her anecdotes.
4. Networking Mom – She sidles up to you when you’re volunteering at the class field trip together and makes a perfectly timed inappropriate joke about the likelihood of the sexuality of the attractive male fourth grade teacher. You’re instantly won over. You eat your sack lunches together, she mentions she’s a ‘work-at-home’ mom, too, and you feel further bonded. She says she’s having a few girls who like to drink wine and bitch about their husbands over for tonight after dinner to do just that. Do you want to come?
You show up with your favorite box of white and… it’s a Pampered Chef Party. She’s a sales girl. And a damn good one. Not just PC, either. She does some scrapbooking system, candles, Mary Kay and even sex toys. You’re depressed this wasn’t the sex toy night.
It’s hard to blame the Networking Mom. Girl’s gotta make a living, after all. But it’s also hard to know if she wants to be your friend, or just your sales rep. And there are only so many scented candles you can sniff before you get lightheaded and nauseous.
5. The User – This mom has existed since time began. Every mother who ever mothered has known a User. Probably, if you ask your User, she’d even know a User. The User is a difficult one to avoid. Her kid is friends with your kid. He’s even a pretty nice kid. You’re fine with him. You’re even glad your kid has nice friends.
The problem is, his mom has your cell number and she texts you regularly asking if they can play. Which is fine… but she’s never texting to ask if your kid can come over to play. She never has a specific plan she wants to invite your kid to. She just wants to know if your kid wants to see her kid… and by that, she means, When can I drop my kid off?
When you break down and find time in your busy schedule to have the kid come over to play, she leaves him without a specific time for when she’s coming back. Even if you let her know you have something to do by 5pm, she’ll text at 4:45 asking if her son can please stay for dinner? Because she’s busy with work and her husband doesn’t want to come get him right now? Is that cool?
And NO. It’s not ‘cool’. You feel used. You get through that snafu, but iterations of this situation happen again and again with this kid and his mom. You don’t want to punish your kid or her kid for her bad behavior, but you just. don’t. have. time. for. this. shit.
I don’t know how to avoid The User, but she is soul-killing and will ruin your day. Be ever vigilant.