Mom Cliques - Dealing with other Moms (part 2)
It was Halloween and the village in Switzerland where I was living had trick or treating. It was nothing like Halloween in America; it was always awkward. I asked another Mom if her kids wanted to hit the path with us as it was more fun in a group. I just felt less intrusive if I had company. She declined; they had plans with another group of kids.
My kids didn't like going alone and were a bit young for this so my presence was needed. We were not successful that year, our bags were rather empty. I decided to drive to a different neighborhood, the one 'my friend' lived in. I knew of four doors we could hit there and I was determined to give my kids the experience. It was a five-minute drive away, the kids were excited to go, hoping to see their school friends. As we rolled up to the driveway of 'my friend' (the one who had declined to go with) we noticed the lights, music, kids, and adults everywhere. I could see some of my friends on the balcony and through the window... all holding wine and completely unaware that I had driven up. There were two bowls of candy outside with a sign, "Please help yourself, we adults are having a party as well. Happy Halloween!"
There in front of my kids, I got one of the biggest social burns I have ever received. They looked at me with panic. I looked back at them, "Well that is a burn. I guess she isn't my friend after all."
I saw her at school that week and she asked me for a favor. This woman asked me for many favors from driving her kids to helping with German homework. I smiled that time, "Sure, but you will have to come over; I don't have much time." She came and I looked over the German test her son had taken and gave her advice. When she was leaving she noticed my pumpkin which was about to cave in but still out front, "Did you get a lot of candy on Halloween?" I answered, "No, we actually weren't successful so we drove up to your house. We didn't ring though as there was the party. The kids just took the candy and we left. I hope I was helpful and the next test goes better." I smiled, she didn't. She looked horrified as she walked to her car.
This used to only happen on a rare fluke occasion. That moment you realize you are left out. Today it is harder than ever before and happens non-stop. In a world dominated by Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram you notice all the things you aren't invited to as people post about their lunches, museum visits, and dinner parties.
Our kids have to deal with this constant stream of events coming their way via Snap Chat and Instagram and they might be sitting on the couch, uninvited and unwanted. Not easy to deal with at all.
So to my daughter's questions, "How do you deal with it? Aren't you sad sometimes?"
I am sad on occasion. I would have liked to be invited to that Halloween party. I used to complain to my Mom because I was not invited to a lot of parties and her response was,
"Ali, how many friends do you have time for? Really! Think about it. A handful if you want to be a good friend, a good mother, and work. You have those friends. Don't worry if you can't dance at every party."
She is right. I have embraced this...almost fully... and it makes life so much easier. I also want to be a great friend to my friends; this means I will have fewer friends.
I am no longer that 8th grader full of insecurities. When awkward situations arise I talk about it and I shake it off NEVER TRULY HOLDING A GRUDGE. I think it is important not to hold grudges or to burn bridges... you never know what leads to someone else's decision not to invite you, to snub you or maybe you were just misinformed.
I also know that Social Media is fake. It seems strange to say because I know you know it as do I but we need a reminder sometimes. Every time jealousy creeps in and you feel like your life isn't as good as others or you feel left out of an event just think about the fact that this is fake and you don't know all the details. It is also a good idea to look at how you might make someone else feel from your posts.
There is no need to be spiteful even if friendship isn't in the cards. Being spiteful burns bridges and you never know ... maybe one of your future friends is friends with the person you don't get along with... and that shouldn't matter.
The woman from the Halloween party is not my friend by my definition. The funny thing is, I think if you were to ask her if I was her friend she would answer, "Yes, she is so kind and helpful and I would have never survived the public system without her." I have heard her say that since the Halloween incident. Sometimes letting go of things open doors. I was respected, just not invited to a party.
After talking my daughter asked me, "What do you do when someone is really mean? When you are bullied?" Yes, Moms can bully too and I have had to deal with that as well but that will be my third post ... Stay tuned....
–Allison Ochs, Social Worker M.S.W., Expat, Mother of three, Wife