I’ve wanted to write a blog on this subject for quite some time but wanted to wait until I had a bit more time under my belt as a mother before I did. After all, once noticing that the world of motherhood wasn’t what I thought it would be from a few weeks post partum, I had to allow myself the leniency of “what if you are wrong?” So I have given it a few more months of observation. In this time I have discovered that my earliest discoveries about this new mum world are correct. Brace yourself it’s a long blog 😜
I would like to note here before mothers with multiple children criticise me for still being such a new mum – that YES, I do admit I am still just that. As I’ve said before I cannot be any further along in my journey than I am at present. I am still fresh as far as experience goes. I have much to learn overall and in no way am I a perfect mother. I have often voiced that I don’t think I’m a very good mother in some regards and it HASN’T come naturally to me. So in writing about this subject I am not putting my mothering skills on a pedestal in any way. I am shining light onto a subject that parallels actual mothering, my intention is to unveil and openly discuss it. I’d like to fall into the category of a realist blogger so I feel subjects that are uncomfortable such as these should be spoken about publically and am happy to write about them even if people disagree or don’t like me for it. This blog is more so my experiences and observations of mothers and women themselves and how I have found them to behave. It is also mixed with stories I have had certain friends disclose to me about their experiences with mums.
Some mothers are, without a doubt, the bitchiest, most backstabbing and 2 faced group of people I have ever encountered in my life. They relish in gossip and drama, they compete with each other, they subtly make each other feel inadequate, they team up, they twist your words and use it as harmful gossip, they body shame each other, they exclude other mothers and they create and maintain clicks amongst each other, and they give forceful, wrong and even at times harmful advice to each other. Even worse than this, they even try to sabotage each other. Fortunately I have not fallen prey to this, only observed it in the early stages happen to others.
I hope there aren’t any women reading this blog coming back thinking “really? Is this sort of thing actually happening?” I cannot for a second imagine that mothers could be that naïve and don’t know or see what is so blatantly obvious about how mums behave badly. Whether you’ve been subjected to bad treatment or have witnessed it happen to other mothers – one must acknowledge it happens and it’s a growing issue.
I do acknowledge that to every negative story there is a positive – some women have found large amounts of support from other mothers through mothers groups, mums and bubs fitness classes, corporate mothers events and more commonly social media. Personally I have encountered and met a small handful of genuine and beautiful mothers on social media and in “real life” that I have found to be lovely, encouraging and supportive. There have only been a few though, and these mothers aren’t clicky and are often lone wolves themselves in some regards. Perhaps that’s why they are genuinely nice?
I have also met a few mums who maintain they have never been caught up in “mum drama” and haven’t ever been either obviously or subtly excluded, bullied or shamed in any way. They acknowledge it happens but deny having anything to do with it or are aware of the extent. Out of these women I see maybe half are genuine and have indeed had very little exposure to this toxic “world”. The other half just say that to try and parade a sense of superiority over you. As in – “wow you must be such a screw up if you’re involved in all this” and act as if they are so far above it or removed from it. Some of these particular women I have seen subtly belittle other mums or ooze that self-superiority over them. But they are artful and duplicitous about it. So yes naturally they haven’t been on the other end of it because they are the perpetrators! Go figure!
I am pointing out the 2 words I continue to use when it comes to mothers behaving badly – SUBTLY and OBVIOUSLY. Because there are 2 categories and some of us have been subjected to both and others just one type. Both are awful, but it’s the subtle category that drives me insane. It makes you question your sanity until that particular nasty mother comes out and DOES do something obvious and then you have that morbidly triumphant moment of “YES, I was right and I could sense she had a problem with me all along!!” Happy dance? 💃 Hmmm probably not quite haha but it is a relief to know you’re not assuming things and going insane!
Obviously I am one of those mothers who have not only felt but HAVE been excluded both conveniently and deliberately, both subtly and obviously. I have had my words twisted, been gossiped about, and have had other mums compete with me. I am not ashamed, embarrassed or so over confident that I will not admit to this.
I would say I am a confident woman in my own right and don’t struggle with low self esteem or question my status as a woman. This is because I have Christ in my life and He is the unwavering and unshakable foundation of me. I know I am accepted and loved unconditionally and He has transformed me from who I used to be. I also have been undeservedly blessed with a husband that surpasses all normal standards for husbands. In marrying Phil I also have further developed that confidence that I am loved, admired and found beautiful in my own way and own right. I no longer need or care for the opinions of others to validate myself. However in saying all this, there are occasional moments where I do experience confusion, anger and even hurt at how mothers have treated me. It has caused me to not trust the majority of those I meet – despite the appearance that I may. I am a socially engaging and vocal person, so others perceive this as me trusting everyone and perhaps being in tight with a group. This isn’t the case. Despite being confident in who I am it does not mean I do not feel isolated, excluded and lonely at times. It doesn’t mean I kid myself and allow myself to be deluded by the notion I am well liked. I know I’m not and I am ok with it, and I even like this about myself at times. I will never change myself to become more likeable to others. I am not a conformist. However this doesn’t mean I appreciate or am unphased by the treatment I have received from other mothers.
I have had to discuss this subject with my husband at length and he has given me some sound advice about how to handle mean mothers and even opened my eyes to some things. He has even had to set me straight at times. He often can see more in a situation and a scenario that I can, and he will often read women more thoroughly than I will. He sits back and quietly observes where as sometimes I get sidetracked by the excitement and can only observe with one eye. I am sure I am not the only one with a husband that has this trait!? He has vocalized with me that he has witnessed mothers behaving the way I have spoken of, and has fittingly said “it is a whole other world” of which he is glad not to be part of.
Recently I have come to experience other mothers directly lie and bitch about me and twist my words to make me out to be the demon. This has been a new experience as a mother but not a foreign one to me as a woman altogether. There are obviously certain things like dealing with awful social media trolls and being body shamed that I haven’t experienced enough to the extent to personally write about (there have been a couple of minor episodes but nothing major!) I do sympathise greatly to those mothers that have had to endure this and it’s utterly hurtful in its own right, but I am not touching on that much in depth today.
I wish I could caution all women and tell them appearances can be deceiving and things are never as they seem with mothers. Gosh if only they were! How blissfully simple life would be! If you want me to count how many mothers smile at me and mooch over my son calling him cute – then there are TONS. It’s one thing to call someone’s child cute and leave a little love heart emoji on their Instagram picture or approach them in person and ask for a cuddle. It’s another entirely to treat the mother of that child in a pleasant manner and go out of your away to be genuine to her, to acknowledge her. Compliments about your child or the outfit you’re wearing in no way symbolizes that mother likes you or accepts you, or even wants to get to know you and include you. I discovered this early on.
I do see some mothers that are easily flattered and believe if another mother compliments their child that this means they are liked and part of the click/group. HAHA. No. It means they think your child is cute and no more. There can be that separation between your child and you personally. They might say your child/baby is adorable but secretly think you’re a mole. OR they are jealous or threatened by you for some reason. These reasons vary so much I would have to type a 3000 word blog just to go into them. But believe me reasons for some women not liking, accepting or excluding other mothers can range from ones appearance to someone’s wealth status. It can pendulum from disagreement on beliefs and how you raise your children, to your relationship status and how happy you are in your life compared to them.
I will touch on a couple of these reasons for exclusions. I was warned by a much older mother that I should be careful how much I disclose to other mothers about how happy and content I am in the personal life. As in my strong and secure marriage and the fact I respect and am still IN LOVE with my husband. I needed no explanation from her saying this and cottoned on immediately. The sad fact is – If you express your happiness in life too much, and don’t have anything too negative to say in general discussion with other mothers who are experiencing hardship or are disgruntled – be prepared to be shunned or excluded on that account. Be prepared to be as ostracised by this as you would be for having a different belief system or religion to other mums. Prepare that they will grow to be jealous of you. Women all love to get together to discuss hardships. So they should to a degree as it’s what friends can be for. I do feel many of these group verbal bashings of men should be kept to one on one coffee dates though, not broadcasted as public knowledge. But we all know mothers who take this to the extreme and it’s almost like a competition of who has it hardest and who has the greater woe. You don’t have a woe to talk about? Well, “aren’t you little miss perfect??”
Further on from that, there are those mothers (not meaning to generalise but in my experience I have found most to be mothers with 2 children or more) that are married and on face value like to make out they have a home life to be envied. Not too long after you get to know them more they start bitching about their husbands. There literally are only a very small number of women (talking real life) that haven’t bitched about their husbands or partners to me. These men would be shocked if they knew what was being openly spoken about! Their laziness, their inability to fulfill their obligations as a father, their lack of romance, never showing initiative, not appreciating enough, having a wandering eye for other women…….the list goes on and on. Before you know it, there’s a larger than life bitchfest going on and you have nothing to contribute because you aren’t having issues at home, you don’t hate your husband and you don’t find him lacking. So you are now an outcast because you won’t delve into negative slander about a man in your life. You feel the silent push of exclusion happening because you have nothing to add to the conversation.
Another example of exclusions: A group of mothers will arrange catch-up’s amongst themselves right in front of other mums yet not invite 1 or 2 particular mothers. I’ve seen it happen to others and it’s happened to me. You think you might be included in a particular group yet you see photos or videos on social media of outings you’ve been completely excluded from. Not a mention of an invitation. This is not always a nice feeling trust me! You get those awkward moments where 2 mums are going to have a casual unplanned coffee catch-up and you’re kind of just standing there as they talk about it – then they turn to you and say “oh…..you can come if you want.” Ahhhh the fake pleasantries. It’s the backhanded invite where they are probably said under their breath “please say no, please say no.” Yes, this has happened to me. Then there are more major invitations and events that you were told you would be invited to, then there is a change of date and venue and you weren’t told about or reissued an invite. Awkward. And hurtful. Then because you weren’t there you become even more of an outcast. Yet again, this has happened to me.
A special mention needs to be made of those mothers that compete with other mothers. Being a mother that trains and lives an active lifestyle I am exposed to many “fit mums” both in real life and on social media. I witness the competitiveness more than anything in this arena. This is one of the ways that mums behave badly that is generally as subtle as they come. Women silently compete with each other over who gets back into shape faster post partum, who is fitter and can lift a certain amount, who had less ab separation, who can do more exercises than others. One way some (more commonly instafamous women) like to compete is by excessively flaunting and parading what they have physically in order to try and make other mothers feel inadequate. I’ve touched on this subject before. Every woman has had a different pregnancy and post partum journey and should be credited for training throughout pregnancy and post baby. Absolutely. But there is some face rubbing that goes on for sure. Those women that peacock and constantly overexpose themselves usually have something amiss in their personal lives. Validation and love from strangers and peers is necessary in order to maintain self-preservation for these women.
Some mothers in the fitness industry that I have recently been in connection with will openly “bag out” other mothers for not being fit in their eyes, for not being at a particular standard. They criticise a particular body part of that woman, or her training style. I do have some strong opinions about what I deem as fit and strong but I don’t always disclose it. My own personal opinions line up with what I try to achieve fitness wise. My opinion and goal is my standard, and I am entitled to it, and often just keep it to myself. I do feel the word “fit” is thrown around too often yes, however I don’t appreciate people in the fitness industry openly paying out on others who aren’t to their standard of what they believe as fit. Particularly mean are those that pay out on other mothers that are in the industry to make a living. I have recently terminated training at a facility for one of many reasons but this being one of them. The talk about other mothers in the industry got too much and I knew it was a toxic environment and I could fall prey to further gossip if I wasn’t careful. Often these fit mums believe they are superior in their level of fitness but I know that there is always someone fitter and more capable than they are and perhaps one day they will be humbled. Once again, usually these women lack something in their personal lives and like to big note themselves above other active mums to reinforce with themselves that they are important and matter. Often these woman have stale personal relationships and also fall into the category of women to bitch about their husbands and partners as I stated above.
Where you train and where you socialize – and with whom, really does matter. Choose your tribe and your environment carefully. A mother can quickly be pulled down into a gossip fest if not careful, or land herself in hot water. I am no exemption to this and have answered questions I thought were harmless and admitted to knowing certain information about someone that was of interest to another mother. I guess ill admit I’m not always on guard and sometimes a simple questioning tactic escapes me and I’m like “yeah, I know her.” Or something like that. Boom. Now they want to know more and I should have seen it coming. Mothers delve for a reason. I am yet to become more experienced at detection. Aren’t we all to some degree?
Sometimes conversations can take a drastic turn and suddenly it’s almost too late to change subject! I have stated my opinions on things out loud to the wrong people and have had my words twisted to a point where something I did say quite neutrally was misquoted into making me a totally horrible person. Mothers will gang up on others and start spreading lies to try and drag another mothers name through the mud. I’m learning more and more to say less in a group environment where there are more prying eyes and ears, and keep anything beyond surface chat to a private 1 on 1. Women want a “safe place” to chat – well these days seek a counsellor and pay for that service because to me, no environment is safe to talk about personal matters as they can get manipulated, twisted and thrown back in your face. Women in the fitness industry want to know about other women in the industry and with the wave of “fit mums” that are emerging so is this incessant need for other mothers to compare and compete, find out about each others personal lives. This is one of those scenarios where you’d have to be involved in the fitness industry to know what I mean. Competing for fitness levels, 6 packs and tight booty’s is not the only form of competing mothers delve into.
Mothers also compete when it comes to their offspring. It’s quite disgusting really. They treat and talk about their children as if they are a direct extension of their entire being. They try and live vicariously through them to an extent. They act as if the developments their child makes physically and mentally is an addition to their own achievements and ego. They state things that their child has done that they know yours hasn’t. “Oh my son walked at 9 months” – how often I’ve heard that one. “My daughters were climbing things at 4 months.” Yes, I’ve actually heard that. Not sure if that’s even possible but it was said. As if it’s a reflection on their own physical condition? Yep, ok.
“Is your son doing this yet?” “Is your child sleeping through?” “Are they rolling over yet” blah blah blah you can hear the condescending tones behind their questions. Many of us can relate. They ask these questions because they cannot wait to brag about how quickly their child did this or that. As if it makes them a better mother and their child is more advanced than yours? So terrible. Then queue the fake reassuring “oh don’t worry, he will get there” type comments. These comments aren’t meant at all and don’t come from genuine encouragement, let me assure you. It’s just a way they can close the conversation. Everything they wanted to achieve has been done – to compete with you and let you know your child is below theirs in development of something. I see this all the time its terrible!
A wise mother in her 50’s said to me late last year “you know when your child is 18 it won’t matter in the slightest how old they were when they walked or crawled.” Too right. So these silly competitive stories mothers tell about their children will have no relevance later in life and gives NO indication of how their child will turn out, or how their mothering skills are. I got a bit of a complex earlier days about Jonah’s abilities based on what a couple of mothers said to me. Now I see through it and just shut it down, or ignore it. I then identify there is an underlying issue with the mother. I encourage other mums who have been through the same to come to that same conclusion – and quickly. It’s just another ploy to compete and make you feel less than them. They have problems. Don’t befriend that mother if she is saying things like that. Best to steer clear.
I was deceived into thinking that once you’re a mother you’re all in it together, you’re all automatically accepted and part of a universal group of mature attitudes and ways of behaving and thinking. WOW I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s like high school magnified and amplified. The sheer amount of 2 faced backstabbing behaviour I see regularly has quickly made me see that my assumptions before I started my motherhood journey were almost laughable. Welcome to the cesspool of a large percentage of women who are toxic, bitchy, conniving and lying gossipers with virtually no genuineness to them whatsoever. Shocking but true statement. I’m always stunned by the 2 faced behaviour I see, and this proves I am not desensitized to it yet (is that a positive? I can’t be sure!)
Social media gives even more opportunity for 2-faced women to gain momentum. I see women I know liking and writing lovely comments on other mothers photos – and I’m instantly confused and almost angry at their level of audacity!! Based on things I’ve heard her say about this mother in my mind I’m almost screaming “oh my gosh you don’t even like her!!!” Yet this mother on the receiving end has no idea. Well maybe I shouldn’t say that. Maybe she does, and it’s a case of playing that mother back, beating her at her own game. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer kind of thing? Who knows, it makes my head hurt. On a side note – at least I KNOW I’m not always well liked. Some mothers walk around as if no one has a bad word to say about them. Oh how wrong they are. However they say ignorance is bliss. Is it best not to know?
What can a mother do if she has been ill treated by other mothers in any of the above examples I’ve given? (I am sure there are quite a few ways I still haven’t mentioned!) Well you can approach this particular mother and tackle it head on, or the entire group. Call them on their unfair, immature or cruel behaviour publically and hope that the heated chat leads to closure. Mothers who prey on other mums never like to be exposed publically and often try and play victim if push comes to shove. Confronting them may succeed but on the other hand it may lead to open denial and more lies could follow, entangling you further. You possibly wont get to the bottom of it.
You could always try the investigative approach when it comes to discovering lies and gossip (which I have tried before) – If it’s a case of “she said versus she said” when the truth comes out, I would examine the facts carefully and weigh up what was said, who started it, the motives and who had more to gain from it. You can try and decipher who is loyal to you, who is being truthful. Sometimes this strategy works, if you’re good at being objective and have all the facts and information about this particular mother that has said or done something wrong by you. But it’s a time consuming process.
What I have started to do is simply distance myself from these types of mothers. Not associate with them any further or remove myself from the environment where I was interacting with them. Usually once this happens there is a knee jerk reaction on their part. They may have a go at you when they detect you’ve gone “off” them or unveiled them. They may delete or block you on social media (this is always a laugh to me as it completely cements their guilt and their position towards you deep down) or they may start rumours about you furthermore. Their behaviour there afterwards will completely indicate what sort of person they truly are, and how petty they can be. If they truly missed your company and interaction they would approach you respectfully and maturely and ask what they had done to offend. However this is rare that someone would do this, mother or not. Never be an enabler and tolerate mistreatment from any mother, despite a possible attachment to the circle of women or environment you’ve come to enjoy that she dominates or circulated in. Complete extraction is the only remedy.
After you’ve been mistreated, excluded, gossiped about or bitched about by mothers all you can do is be grateful you know what they are like sooner than later and avoid others that show similar traits and behaviours you meet in future. Perhaps learn not to try and befriend the “queen bee” in the room but the mother that is quietest and doesn’t appear to have minions following her around. Befriend the lone wolf so to speak. She may add more value to your life than the mothers that are always bitching and talking, the mothers that want to excessively verbal vomit about their personal lives, the mothers who seem to know the latest dramas about others, the mothers who appear to have colourful social lives. Don’t let appearances deceive you. Don’t let someone’s social media account deceive you either.
My final conclusion is to be slow to make friends and examine the ones you have already made. Sometimes developing a “mum crush” for someone way too quickly can have you backpedaling faster than you can manage when you find out what she is really like on close acquaintance. Also, be open minded to the fact that just because a particular mother is nice to you, doesn’t mean she is that way to other mums. She may not find anything about you that is a threat to her and she may not see you as vulnerable. This doesn’t mean she doesn’t prey on or mistreat other mums (past or present.) Everyone has different experiences with different people. If you do find out that a mother you like has bullied, excluded, shamed or deeply hurt another mother you know or meet – reconsider your friendship and alliance with her. Don’t be so blinded by a friendship that you can’t see that person has flaws. We all do really.
I’ve actually befriended a mum bully before (only to an extent thankfully!) without knowing right away. Even up until recently. More than once. But the truth really does come out eventually and you can free yourself from the friendship. Always remember after you’ve been burned by a mum behaving badly – her behaviour is actually because of something more deep seeded that she is yet to deal with or overcome in her own life. Some sort of insecurity or endless inadequacy that she feels towards herself or her personal life. Sometimes it can stem from bitterness and jealousy because of something she is going through behind closed doors. Sometimes mothers are just bitchy, jealous and competitive by nature and there is no family grievance that has triggered her mean spirit. There are a few possibilities but do know and find comfort in this: It comes down to this simple and well-known fact of the matter – it is not you. It’s them.
Love to all the mothers out there that can relate to any of the above. Never tolerate any form of bullying and don’t let your silence endorse the behaviour either if you witness it. Support other mums you know of that have been subjected to nasty behavior and raise awareness that subtle and obvious mum bullying, shaming, exclusions and backstabbing gossip is not ok.