Playground Mummy Mafia
It is a myth that once you become part of the mummy club you will become firm friends with every other mummy out there. Just like you choose your friends with like-minded people before you become a mummy, the same happens once you have your children.
You may have this incredible bond of having children in common – but that could well be all you have in common.
The playground is an interesting place to navigate – whether it be at day care, kindergarten or school. There seems to be the same ‘types’ of mummy at every age, in every country and in every playground. Some women can be notoriously catty and being a mum isn’t going to change that — it just gives them different things to be mean about.
There are a number of ‘types’ of mummy around and very quickly you learn to fall in with the group you feel most comfortable with. It’s just like being at school again yourself!
For instance, there’s the mummy ‘in’ crowd – I call them the Playground Mummy Mafia. They are glamorous, while the rest of us are frazzled. They are the ones who arrive at the kindergarten calm and collected, sporting Versace sunnies, driving large black trucks, baby accessory on one hip, Prada handbag flopped over an arm, while the rest of us race in late, hair stuck to our heads, mascara smudged under our eyes, wet patches from breastfeeding and baby vomit on our T-shirts. Their children wear neat bows and beautiful frilly skirts and dresses and for some reason, never ever seem to get paint, sand or dirt on their pretty outfits.
Quite frankly, I don’t mind these people — I just don’t know how they do it. For some reason I am always running late, which means that, no matter how neat and tidy my children and I are when we leave the house, by the time we arrive at kindy or school we are a mess.
Then, of course, you have the Mummy Do-Gooder. You know the type. She is on every committee going, relentlessly baking cakes for fundraisers, giving up her weekends to shake tins at shoppers or do working bees at the local kindy, school or old-people’s home. She’s always on the lookout for new recruits to join her circle.
Then there’s the Sporty Mum. These mums turn up at school every day in their gym gear and are always off running with the pram or dropping the younger sibling in crèche so they can go and pump iron at the gym.
Don’t forget Super Mum. She works part-time, and yet somehow runs the home and family without batting an eyelid. Her work is under control, her children are happy and content, freshly packed lunches include home-baked muffins. Her iPhone is always beeping and she uses it to know exactly where she has to be and when. She doesn’t miss a school sports day and homework is always in on time and in order.
Finally there is Pushy Mum. You know the type. She was the one at antenatal class who played classical music to her stomach. When baby was 6 months old, she tried to get him to walk. Now her child is older, she is convinced that he is a genius and the poor wee thing is enrolled at every activity going — he’s only 5 years old but is currently going to piano, judo, soccer, tennis, French lessons and hip hop. Her conversation tends to focus solely on her children. She lives her life through them and her interests are their interests, her friends are her children’s friends’ mothers.
Whatever category of mummy you fall into, you will eventually find your own group of mummy friends, even if it is a bit of a stumble in the beginning.
A friend of mine recently arrived in New Zealand from the UK and started her children at a local private kindergarten, and was astonished that nobody took the time to talk to her. She had hoped she would soon meet lots of other mums through her children and playdates but she was left out of the clique of the Mummy Playground.
The other mummies used playdates as a way of networking among their peers and, as she didn’t fit into the right category, her daughter was never invited over for a play.
She’s not alone. Other mums have been ignored — just completely left out of the playground chatter — just because they haven’t been to the right school or are not dressed correctly. It may be hurtful but it can hopefully be put to one side, unless of course it extends to how your child is treated. In that case, take action. If you or your child are finding playground politics have gone too far, then make sure you talk to the teacher immediately. The sooner this sort of bullying can be nipped in the bud, the better.
In my own experience, I picked up the importance of the different ‘mummy types’ early on. When Jack was younger, I had him enrolled in a local private kindergarten that had been recommended by a friend. I didn’t realise that it was the most expensive kindergarten in Auckland at the time. All I knew was it was much cleaner and nicer than the other kindies I had visited. Initially I would turn up to drop Jack off in my oldest clothes with my new-born baby in her capsule. Sometimes I hadn’t even showered. It took me just one week to recognise that every other mother at the kindergarten was dressed like they had just walked out of Karen Walker. Most of them were blonde. Pretty much all of them drove Range Rovers (parking was a complete nightmare with my Mitsubishi!) and they had all been to private schools together. I realised that I had to start getting dressed up to go to kindergarten! Crazy! And still no one spoke to me.
I took Jack out after less than a year and enrolled him at the local public kindergarten. It wasn’t full of new toys and it certainly wasn’t as clean or as well kept as the private one but it was friendly and encouraging and I soon made friends with the other mums. Mind you, I hardly ever pick up my children wearing my old clothes anymore!
HAVE YOU BEEN THE SUBJECT OF PLAYGROUND BULLYING? WE’D LOVE TO HEAR YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES AND ANY TIPS YOU HAVE FOR DEALING WITH IT.
Authored by Jacqui Lockington, owner of blog If Only They Told Me.