Mom Cliques

I am inherently antisocial.

But here I am, trying to socialize my children.

So we go to these free for alls at parks and play places, and I’m miserable, because all the mothers know each other and are all smirky and smarky and snarky and snurky in their little cliques, cold and distant and critical-looking, and I just want my kid to have someone sweet to play with. But instead, I’m remembering how much I hated junior high, because I was always the new kid and never the cool kid and it didn’t matter how nice I tried to be, I was always an outsider.

But now it’s worse, because I don’t care if I’m the outsider, but I don’t want my kid to be an outsider. I don’t care if the other moms are snarky to me – but could they and their children include my child?

This is why, another mom told me, she’s antisocial.

I get it. I totally get it.


7 Responses to Mom Cliques

  1. patience says:

    I can relate to this. If there’s one mom at the park, she’s approachable, but a mommie clique is about as impregnable as Fort Knox.

  2. lygrb says:

    This is a large part of the reason my kids don’t really have any friends. They are social and kind and funny (and all of the other wonderful things I would say about them!) but they really have to make their own friends at the park. And it’s a different friend each time. Maybe there’s a(n?) anti-clique clique out there somewhere:) I used to try and connect but I’ve pretty much been blown off. I’m just not one of those moms, I’ll talk to anyone! And it’s unfortunate that we can’t just support each other even if there are too many differences to list!

  3. ChrEliz says:

    I used to feel the same way about this. Then, one day, my whole perspective changed. I was joyfully enjoying my happy park outing with three mom friends I haven’t seen in a while, (we were deep in meaningful conversation – such a rarity! – and our kids (who were all lifelong friends) were totally engrossed in their game. I happened to look over and notice a mom sitting on the bench, watching her kid frolic, and I realized that she’d probably be really glad to be making friends right then. Hmm. What a dilemma. I smiled a warm smile, and she smiled back, and I made sure at some point during the outing to say some friendly words to her… But the truth is, I was really there to have some scheduled time with my friends, and my kid was really excited to see her friends that she knows well. For me to completely include this total stranger in our activity would have been (a) weird, and (b) would have been a total sacrifice of my adult time – it would have turned it from a deep meaningful conversation into just another small-talk-fest.

    Karmically, I think my super-extroversion and happy willingness to strike up a fun conversation with a total stranger (and to introduce her to everyone I know that she might click with, even after only knowing her for 15 minutes) makes up for these occasional park outings in which I don’t throw open the entire afternoon to include a stranger… But I’m sure that my park outings with my good friends have probably caused someone else the same sting of feeling excluded that I myself have felt when I’ve been the singleton.

    I think being a new SAHM/part time paycheck working mom is the hardest time. Whether it’s new because your first child is a newborn, or new because you’re no longer working full time, it can be really icky to get used to the realization that you’re there at the park solo, and that it’s going to be a long outing in which you feel really bored/lonely/left out/like a high school or junior high girl again. The thing is, I truly believe that everyone, if we’re honest, has been on both sides of this equation. We may not realize it, but even if someone thinks she’s the nerdiest, dorkiest, least cliquish person ever, I guarantee that if you’ve ever had a personal conversation with a friend within earshot of another woman who knew no one, or didn’t know anyone very well (at the park, waiting on line at Lollipop Shop, at a birthday party, etc.), I promise you that you’ve made someone feel left out in this same exact way.

    What can be done about it? Stop having conversations with our friends? Always include every random stranger 100%? No, of course not. I think that the best we can do is 1. try to notice when there’s someone sitting/standing there looking new and in need of a kind word, and 2. giving at least a warm smile and making an effort to have at least a few minutes of small talk, is probably the best we can do when we are TRULY occupied. And when we’re just having a casual outing where it doesn’t hurt to totally include a stranger, then it really is good to muster up some extroversion (even if you’re really not an extrovert) and try to be friendly.

    My final thought on this is that our young children under age 5 don’t have anywhere near the negative experience of this that we fear they do. They’re happy just to play. When they try to join a game and are rebuffed, they don’t experience the sharp ouch that we do on their behalf. They really are, developmentally, too young to interpret the situation the way we think they might. Even kids as smart and precocious and emotionally advanced as our amazing children are. ; ) So, we can take comfort in the fact that the Square Peg suffering is all our own. Our job is just to work hard to not project our experiences onto our kids, or to act hurt or aggrieved — because kids DO pick up on that.

    It is a crappy aspect of motherhood, all the cliquishness. But just because we all do it, some more than others, and some totally unintentionally, doesn’t mean that we’re all snarky or snobby or anything. (And I know you know this, and I am not suggesting that you’re painting every situation with the same brush, and in your situation I trust your judgment that it really was a bunch of yummy mummy types being exclusive…) But I’m just sayin’, sometimes even nice moms do this, because we’re just being oblivious or engrossed or whatever.

    But point those women out to me next time we’re at the park and I’ll shoot them some mean nasty looks, okay? : ) B!tches. : )

  4. Elizabeth says:

    When my kids were little I found a lot of other mothers just…odd. And judgmental. Which was probably projection and insecurity on my part. Whatever it was, I was never comfortable with the playground scene.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I get it too. Thankfully the boys just dont care and play with everyone, it is refreshing. Lets get together soon at the park! I know my boys would love to play with your little girl and meet the new baby! We can be engaging and supportive of all the other moms at the park too (who arent part of Fort Knox)!

  6. Sharon Hart says:

    I love this post…haven’t we all been there? I will say that since becoming a life coach here in Cville my perspective on who I want to connect with has changed.

    It stinks to get the clique cold shoulder or feel like your on the “outside”, but that feels kind of toxic to be around. I often ask myself, “Am I really drawn to that person or I just want to be invited in?”. When you begin choosing your own “tribe” carefully, you become very picky about who you will give your time to.

    Thank you for posting this and getting the discussion going!

    Sharon Hart, CPCC

  7. Cariddi says:

    Interesting read . . . I think I’m going to write a semi-reply on my blog but I’ll link back to yours

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