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Dealing With Douchebag Parents Makes Me Hate Motherhood

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stroller parkingI remember the first time I met my daughter’s friend’s mother Sherry*. After speaking to her on the phone for a few weeks, I was cautiously optimistic. I hadn’t had a lot of luck in meeting other women in our new neighborhood due to my hectic work schedule. But Sherry was nice and we seemed to hit it off. She pulled up in her car and got out, and as I walked out the front door to greet her, it happened. I saw the familiar look. She was doing the math in her head.

“How old were you when you had her, 10?”

This isn’t the only time I’ve had awkward moments. As one of the first women in my group of friends to have kids (I had my oldest child at 19), it’s never been easy to meet and keep mom friends. At first it was sheer logistics. The only place, outside of work, where I really got to meet other women with kids was at the playground, or a playgroup. But even when I worked up the nerve to talk to people at these places, it didn’t always end well.

I would shyly sit next to someone who seemed approachable and try to strike up a conversation. Things would go swimmingly for a few minutes until the inevitable would happen; something minor that we disagreed on would come up about our parenting and somehow prevent us from cementing a friendship. This didn’t always happen, of course. There are wonderful mothers out there who don’t turn every difference in parenting into a federal case. But when it did happen it was crushing.

The only thing I hate more than the “Mommy Wars” bullshit are the cutesy names you find on the internet for these types. “Mean-Girl-Moms,” etc. We need to stop belittling this phenomenon and start calling it what it is: bullying. Or just plain old-fashioned “being a douchebag.”

The pressure to be perfect as a mother is stronger than ever before. We are expected to raise perfect angels, go to work, cook, clean, stay fit and bake organic gluten-free brownies for our kid’s bake sales. And if you can’t keep up, other mothers are often the first ones to knock you down, if only to make themselves feel better.

But despite the differences in parenting these days, these mean-girl types come in every shape, size and rung on the economic ladder. There are the eco-friendly types who will ridicule you for not using PBA-free plastic and bamboo, dye-free fabrics. There are the “my kid is smarter than yours” types that have their infants signed up for pre-school entrance tests and when they find out you don’t, wonder aloud “why have kids if you don’t care about their education”? I can’t even tell you how many times I have been told to zip up my kid’s jacket (even when it’s 70 degrees out).

Even the way I feed my kids doesn’t measure up.

When I moved a couple of years ago I was delighted to meet my new neighbor. Until I invited her daughter over for lunch and she said “I don’t let my kids eat the type of garbage most moms feed their kids so she can come over AFTER lunch.” Seriously? If she had tried to get to know me for even a few minutes before judging me she would have discovered that I am a vegetarian and my family loves healthy food. But she was too busy trying to put me in my place to even try.

I made a decision years ago, when my oldest was a baby that I was going to stop judging people, especially other moms. Life is too short and it’s a terrible way to make friends.

It isn’t just moms of course. There are sancti-daddies too, I’m sure. But I can really only speak of my experience with moms. And to be honest, it takes a lot of the joy out of parenting. I don’t know what it is about having kids that makes parents turn on each other. If it’s not the bickering about breastfeeding vs. formula, cloth diapering vs. disposable, attachment parenting vs. slacker-mom-ing or whatever it’s something else.

When you become a mother you think you will be a part of this group of women who have a shared experience. We all know what it’s like to get up for three a.m. feedings, care for a sick child and clean up projectile vomit.

What happened to “it takes a village”? I’ll tell you what happened. The villiage decided it was easier to criticize and judge than to be constructive and actually help.

*Name changed to protect the bitchy

(photo: xoxoryan)