March 11, 2011

The Pink Elephant In The Room: Hazing in the MOM Sorority

by

 

Woman Head In Hand

When I was in college I thought about being in a sorority. For a hot second. But I had enough of the ‘being mean for being mean’ sake when I was in high school. I didn’t need my ‘friends’ to put me down all in the name of belonging.

So here I am, 8 years into motherhood and this group is a lot like a sorority. And it’s call MOM. And like most sororities there are chapters. That is no different within MOM, as evidenced by the various groups – SAHM, WAHM, Working Moms, Ladies who Lunch, Homeschooling Moms, Mom of Special Needs, Mom of Gifted, Mom of Boy, Mom of Many, and the list goes on.

Like me, you probably belong to several of these ‘sub-chapters’. Which only brings on more group dynamics that need to be managed. Personalities that need to be stroked and massaged. As well as those to be avoided. More people to work with so that we somehow ‘fit in’. Many people to judge. And be judged by.

I never knew about the hazing in the MOM sorority though. Not that it would have changed my decision to become a mom. But knowing that this dynamic existed would have been good to know. Unfortunately, it’s more like a secret society and no one talks about what happens.

The mom-on-mom judgment, snark and eye-rolling is horrible. It’s bad enough that many of us doubt ourselves. But to add insult from people who know what we are going through, to me, is repugnant. Women who have experienced the doubt, the struggles, the frustration yet look down upon and judge other women do nothing to help.

No one wants to talk about it. We turn a blind eye. I don’t find many credible sources of information that looks at this dynamic. The behavior is nothing we’d encourage for our children, yet women across the country engage in what has become much like a rite of passage similar to many sororities. Grown women. Adults who know better. Women who don’t want to be degraded, put down, judged or blamed for their mothering choices. But do so to other moms.

Maybe I’m naive, but I just don’t get it. Why does it matter to anyone else what brand of diaper bag I have? And if I didn’t spend $1,700 on a stroller, do I deserve you looking down your nose at me? And don’t get me started on the buzzing that happens when a young child is seen with a cola drink. Bring up breastfeeding in public and the gloves are off.

I’ve been on the receiving end of some of this hazing. The moms who ask the brand of clothing BabyGirl is wearing and then roll their eyes, reply with rude or snarky comments or even worse, just walk away talking to her friend like I didn’t even exist. The moms who think they’re better than me because they go to the gym and have their ‘pre-baby’ body while I don’t. And, of course, those moms who somehow think my decision to homeschool is a personal affront to them that they need to put me down for my child not having opportunities to socialize like their kids have.

I try not to take their judgment, snark and bullying personally. But it’s hard not to. The saddest part of all of this Mom on Mom hate is that many of these women call themselves my friend.

When did it become acceptable for moms to be mean to other moms ‘just because’?

 

Note: Thank you to my husband for coining the phrase “The Pink Elephant in the Room”

Sara

{ 10 comments }

Jess March 11, 2011 at 9:14 am

Ugh, I hear this loud and clear mama. It’s interesting to see the discredit I receive not having done things “the right way” or the fact that my worth or experience as a mother is lesser because I’m a young mother. As if, as our children grow, our elitism grows right along with them. Sometimes the judgment isn’t vocalized, but rather understood, or assumed because of the disturbing, mind-boggling acceptance within the sorority.

I love you for putting this out there. I hate that you’re feeling the brunt of someone’s incapability to view your maternal choices as equal to their own, on any front.

xoxo

Kate @ Songs Kate Sang March 11, 2011 at 10:10 am

Oh Sara, I totally relate.

I pray each day to go to bed with a clear conscience and treat people with kindness and dignity and respect. I sincerely believe that we can change the world one act at a time. I am determined to show my daughter our words should be edifying, kind and gentle and in THAT is our quiet strength.

Maragret March 11, 2011 at 10:20 am

OMG this might just be the best blog post I have ever read. I am a mother of two girls( 21 & a 14 ). My oldest went to public school and my youngest is homeschooled. Won’t go into the reasons for the difference in their education but we did what was best for each child. Well you can probably imagine the crap I took from the public school moms for homeschooling and the same crap came from the homeschooling moms because we had one in public school. I wish I could say that was the only reason I experienced “mean mom hazing” but it wasn’t. In my 21 yrs. of being a mom I have experienced it becaused I worked, becaused I stayed home, because I breastfed, because I didn’t breastfeed long enough,because I lived in a so so house, becaused we moved into a hip neighborhood, because my kids watch tv, because I shop at WalMart, because my kids have exceled at something, hell I even got it for using paper towels or drinking out of water bottles. I’ll stop because the list just is too long. I mean it has been nuts. Now after 21 yrs. I am so guarded around women. It is so bad that when I hear the words “play group” I break out in hives.
Thank you for bringing this to light.

V Demetros March 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Wow, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. I had a similar post on my blog about being insulted. Seems people don’t have any problem letting us know what they think about us, do they? What makes their opinion so important, anyway? I have compared some groups of Moms to middle school in many ways. Misunderstandings abound, as well as little tiffs that shouldn’t even be happening.

You’re a great mom, and a good friend. As I have told my girls so often…”People who are happy are not mean. People who are unhappy already are the ones who try to take you down.” Obviously, these women are dealing with their own inadequacies.

I have come to the conclusion that I just don’t hang around with people I don’t like. Period. I’m old enough now to make that decision. No more “in” groups. Just be with people who respect you and for whom you have respect. The rest can get lost.

BTW, I think Maragret and I have a lot in common. I have 21 and 15 year-old girls and homeschool the younger one while the older one went to public high school. Same types of comments from all over, but we do what is best for our kids.

Thanks for voicing this…

Brandi March 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Gosh, I can totally relate to this post. I remind myself everyday, though, that the only thing I need to worry about in this MOM journey is being the best one that I can be for my daughter and forget about all of the cliquey, sorority stuff. Thank you for writing this!

Debbie Johnson March 11, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I have been a SAHM and now a WWHM(work with husband Mom). I never paid much attention to what was said. Don’t let others get you down. I will say , now that my kids are teens and I am menapausal, I don’t give a rip what others say. Good or bad. Just keep on keeping on, stay sane and keep your family first.

Jules from A Little Bite of Life March 12, 2011 at 8:36 am

I never really thought about it the way you’ve described, but you are absolutely right!

I noticed little things here and there over the years. We lived in a popular community here in Phoenix, and people were always trying to “keep up with the Jones”. I did not subscribe to it, and kept my Target budget, and budget mini-SUV. The one thing I had going for me, was that I was a great cook and party-thrower, so as long as we kept the parties and food coming, we “fit” in. Then we moved, and three years later, moved back. Things were never quite the same. I am not into the designer cars, the designer clothes (for the sake of being designer), and the designer lifestyle, so we no longer fit in with those who were now REALLY trying to “keep up with the Jones”. I even had a next door neighbor who snubbed her nose at me the very first day we moved in, because I did not have a nanny and was a full-time SAHM!?!? She didn’t work either, but shopped, hung out with girlfriends etc, so needed a nanny. WHATEVER! Life became very lonely, but also forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and seek out real (emotional) friendships. It is ironic that the economy tanked, because many of those so-called friends who snubbed or ignored me for my frugal clothing, car, etc choices are now broke, and we live a comfortable life with cars paid for, a house almost paid for, and great family trips. I guess living high on the hog did not pay off.

I have always told my son that no matter where we moved, his new best friend is right around the corner. I truly believe that for him, and for myself, and I have sought out people with the same values, likes. The past year I have found some wonderful friendships.

Becca -Our Crazy Boys March 13, 2011 at 9:53 pm

I’m sorry, Sara. I’m sorry that anyone would judge you based on your parenting decisions.

You are doing an amazing job with baby girl, as you are pretty amazing yourself. And I love you for putting this out there 🙂

Momma of 2 Tykes March 29, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I just want to say that I am so HAPPY to find this post…I now feel as though I’m not the only mother who has gone through the hell of a cliquey-sorority-moms-group and of being stared at, pointed and ridiculed at the playground when my son acted up!
I recently dropped out of a moms club, it was a joke. Moms offering moms support my left foot! They would force you to host “Playgroups”, but didn’t take into account those who were in apartments or condos with little room or no backyard, then I would get “judged” b/c we didn’t own a huge house, or big SUV, or didn’t go on elaborate trips, it was just a nightmare. I never felt so inadequate in my life!
I could go on, but I’ll stop here and wish all of you mothers out there nothing but the best!

Sara March 30, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Hello Momma of 2 Tykes!

Thank you for visiting my blog and sharing your very personal comment. I hope you’re no longer associated with people that try to make you feel less because you’re not living the way they want you to live. There are good people out there who will support you and luv you just the way you are!

Kindly,
Sara

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