Mom cliques - dealing with other Mom's (part 3)
The worst kind of Mom to deal with is the Mom who bullies your child! She isn't the run of the mill mean Mom. I think we are all occasionally guilty of being mean. Think about it. Have you ever made a snarky comment online? Ever rolled your eyes at what another mother was doing or her choices? What about gossip? Are you free of gossip? And at school, do you always treat teachers with kindness and respect or do you go after them at times? I am guilty of all of the above if I am honest. Not on a regular basis and when I catch myself, I am not pleased but, yes, I am human and I do stupid things.
I have encountered one Mom who would go as far as intentionally bullying a child. Mom's that are simply mean, do cliquish things, act like a teenager and might accidentally hurt a child but never with intent. But this kind of Mom is different; she knows exactly what she is doing. Her acts are intentional and she undermines your child at every turn spreading gossip and lies, all with one goal; to hurt with the hope of advancing her own child.
My encounter was with a Mom who did everything to undermine anyone who got in her child's path. Our children were friends, they played and did all sorts of things together but her child was always slightly superior to mine, thus we were not a threat. Once or twice I thought I noticed this behavior but shook it off not wanting to believe it. Then one day my child started to get increasingly close to her child in talent. I noticed the shift and it was if a switch turned and a new game and competition was on from her side; the destruction of my child. Friendship was canceled by the mother, carpools changed, lies were told to others, there was trickery with sports coaches and just outright meanness. When the last straw broke my husband, who rarely loses composure on things like this, looked at me with angry eyes, hugged me,
"She is EVIL, a really bad person. Stay away. Karma will get her. Our job is to protect our child here."
If I rewind a bit... on the road to my husband making that comment I made a few mistakes.
I was sad at first because I thought she was my friend. I tried all my tricks to recover the friendship when she changed; I talked to her and her daughter, I confronted her kindly, I said I was sad. Every time I tried, it just got worse because she turned that on me too. My calm discussion with her was turned into a vicious attack on her and her child and she reported to the sports coach that I had attacked her and her daughter. I was so flabbergasted that day, it was as if someone had hit me with a closed fist in the gut, knocking my breath away. And then something awful happened; I lost it.
I had tears in my eyes walking to my car and I I spotted her car about to pull out. I marched over, planted my feet so she couldn't back up and pounded on her window. As she rolled it down with fear I roared, "I don't hurt children but you obviously will shy away from nothing. You and your child are evil. So help me God if you don't stop this I will not be polite anymore and my rath will be fierce. I will attack. I can't believe anyone would sink as low as you just did. I am sorry for your child to have you as her example! Leave my child alone ...."
I don't remember everything I said but it wasn't nice even though I didn't swear. I felt good to stand up for myself but I was furious as well; I knew better.
What I learned from my encounters with her:
Mean people are often unhappy people
Meanness often comes from insecurity, a very shaky self-esteem and deep unhappiness which women and men are masking with their perfect Instagram and Facebook accounts. Putting you or your kids down makes them feel better and they might not even realize they are doing it. I always analyse if it is with intent or just frustration that came out wrong and put things into perspective. If it is without intent you can forgive them and continue your friendship. If they are doing so with intent, if they are evil....STAY AWAY!
Even if you know they are evil it is good to have empathy. I found that this Mom was miserable and struggling to hide it. Her marriage was falling apart along with her dreams and aspirations for life. She had thought her life would be different, that she would be someone special and she was living a suburban Mom life with little money and a husband who made it clear he wanted to keep away from her. She had one thing left...she needed to pour all her energy into her child making sure that this child had everything she didn't have and she would do this come hell or high water even if that meant she had to throw someone else under the bus. Understanding that she acted this way because she felt her life was over anyway helped me move on.
This did not make her behavior acceptable. It did not make it easier for me to deal with her on a daily basis, especially when the meanness was towards one of my children and myself but having some empathy toned down my own rage as I moved forward after the parking lot incident. She stayed away from me for a few months and I stayed away from her. I think I genuinely scared her but.... I still had encounter's her. I simply ignored her never saying more than hello and goodbye. My child eventually decided to move on as this mother played yet again another mean card undermining us. We were not playing but she was; we walked away.
I couldn't change her and the only way to deal with someone that evil was to leave. If someone is really just mean and you have tried but can't seem to help or make it go away...stay away from them and trust in Karma! I do. Losing my temper was a quick fix and the only way for me to get to her would be for me to turn into her and I wasn't going to do that. I certainly do not want to bully back because that carpark scene was pretty bad and close to bullying and afterward I didn't like myself.
Over the last few years, I have come across another Mom like this but I never found out if it was intentional or not. I had learned from the past and after trying twice to connect with her I noticed the same patterns so I decided to remove myself and my child from her and her child's path. I wasn't taking another risk.
Oh and Karma. Well, I bumped into that coach. At the time of the incident, he didn't believe me when I told him it was all a lie and a game and that the Mom was mean. She seemed too angelic and he couldn't see it. He had scolded me before I marched to her car telling me he was shocked that I wasn't in it for the team; that I was selfish only thinking of my child.
I didn't bring up this bad memory, he did, "I am so glad you are here. I want to apologize for not believing you. That Mom isn't just mean she is evil and I let you and your child down." He then turned to my child, "I am so sorry! I should have protected you."
It hurts to have someone hurt your child. Trust me walking away would have been the better path. The parking lot only stopped her shortly and thank God she didn't have an iPhone to film me as I raged at her... now that would have been embarrassing and I would have been painted as the evil person on social media. I sure she would have been capable.
–Allison Ochs, Social Worker M.S.W., Expat, Mother of three, Wife