Mean Moms

Do mean girls grow up to be mean moms?

Recently, I went on a school field trip with my son’s first grade class. While watching the children play, I heard a group of moms single out a child, speaking of his poor behavior. Several thoughts went through my head. First, I was worried the “bad” kid was my son. It wasn’t, well, at least for this conversation. Instantly, I wondered if the troubled child had a disadvantage. Was he a foster child? Are mom and dad involved? Did he have a learning disability? Were the other children nice to him? My heart ached for the cruel unacceptance these moms were expressing toward another child. Didn’t they realize this could have just as easily been their child?

Have you seen that movie Mean Girls starring Lindsey Lohan? A group of popular high school girls run the school, humiliating and bad mouthing anyone who does not fit into their ideal clique. It’s a pretty true representation of high school. Girls like that are exactly why I consider high school a cruel social experiment. Do mean girls grow up to be mean moms?

                                     Mean moms

To be fair, I do not know what these mothers experienced with this child prior to meeting them on this day. I really don’t know much about them at all, and I’m not really sure these are the women I should surround myself with. I am not passing judgment on their actions, but I felt terribly uncomfortable around them. How would they react to my son? He is not perfect. For that matter, none of these children are perfect and, clearly, neither are the adults.

Do you know what I shared with these moms? Nothing. I shared absolutely nothing with them because I felt I could not trust them. This was not a group of women trying to help or figure out the root cause of this child’s behavior. This was disgust, dislike, disapproval. They were gossiping about a child. The tiny creations we are responsible to protect had become the target of animosity. Great heaviness sank my heart.

The most upsetting part was that I had been a mean mom in the past. There had been a child with difficult behavior that I had spoken poorly of. I rattled off solutions as though I was some authority on proper parenting. If they would just spank more, hug more, increase quality time, limit video games, cut out sugar, and on and on. Yes, I had been a judgmental, self-righteous, mean mom.

While I sat upon my condescending throne of better-than-you parenting rubbish, a funny thing happened, my child became an issue in the classroom. It turns out my perfect parenting was a farce. I choked on my own words as I fell from grace. I learned a lot about myself, my family, and my friends as I searched for support, answers, and guidance. A line had been drawn and only those who were willing to accept my son as he was were allowed into our lives. Those without love, without outstretched, open arms were turned away.

It was crushing to learn some of the people I loved would no longer be part of our circle. I racked myself for answers trying to understand why someone would be so intolerant of my child. It was in Albert Einstein words I realized the answer… “Only those who have experienced it can understand it.” I had been a mean mom until I had experienced the other side of the equation. If anyone could understand the situation from every perspective, it should be me.

When I question why another person cannot see my point of view or how someone could behave in such a way, these are the words that repeat in my head. They keep me from climbing back atop the throne of false superiority. Einstein’s words keep me humble and grounded.

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