When I became a mom, it was like entering a whole new world. One that is filled with joys, challenges, and surprises. One thing that really surprised me, though, is the distinct feeling that mommydom is a lot like high school.
There Are Cliques
Whether you have joined a playdate group, started hanging out more at local family events, or joined one of many online forums for moms, you’ve probably noticed something: moms form distinct cliques. The cliques vary a lot and are generally formed around commonalities. Some of the ones that may be readily recognized include:
The Crunchy Moms
These are the moms who may have had a home birth or a doula and likely opted out of any pain medications during childbirth. They often breastfeed their children for as long as possible, believe in extended rear-facing car seats, use cloth diapers, practice attached parenting, and feed their children nothing but homemade, organic food. They generally don’t believe in circumcision or vaccinations. They often co-sleep and are against the crying it out method. They usually practice baby-wearing. They often have considered homeschooling their children.
The Silky Moms
Silky moms are often viewed as being on the opposite end of the spectrum from Crunchy moms. Silky moms tend to trust the current research of medical/parenting experts. They likely had a hospital birth and may or may not have received medication during labor and delivery. They are not generally against circumcision. Although they may breastfeed, they also don’t see anything wrong with bottle-feeding or formula. They are not against buying products that they feel are convenient, such as disposable diapers. Their children are often sleep-trained to sleep in their own crib or their own nursery. They usually transport their children in a stroller. They are not generally against public school.
The Scrunchy Moms
These moms are a combination of Silky and Crunchy. They may use disposable diapers, but buy organic food. They may breastfeed the majority of the time, but supplement with formula or store-bought baby food. They may practice baby-wearing, but then choose not to co-sleep. They likely ask their doctors’ questions about vaccinations so that they can make informed decisions. They can often see the benefits of both public school and homeschool.
The “Have It All Together” Moms
These are the moms who seem to have it all together. They always have on nice clothes. Their hair is perfectly coiffed. Their nails are pristine. Their cars never have bits of food on the floor. Their children are impeccably-mannered. They have their kids enrolled in several extracurricular activities and are never late. They volunteer for “all the things”.
You May Feel Insecure
As moms, especially new ones, it is easy to feel like you are lacking somehow. You wonder if you’ve made all the right decisions. If you’ve done all the right things. If you’ve been doing this whole parenting thing right. It’s a lot like high school, where you wonder if you will ever find your footing.
There Is a Sense of Competition
As a parent, you can often feel like you are unofficially competing with other moms. You compare yourself to others all the time. Why can’t I be as calm as that mom? How can I be more poised as that mom? When am I going to be able to have a social life like that mom? Why can’t I seem to get as much done during the day as that mom? You might even find yourself comparing your children to other kids, wondering why your child is developing at a different rate.
You Learn a Lot
Fortunately, though, being a mom teaches you a lot about yourself and about life. You eventually learn to stop comparing yourself (and your children) to others. You find your rhythm. You gain confidence in your choices while also respecting the choices that other moms make. You make time for the things that are important to you. You gain a level of self-confidence in your skills as you grow and improve- not only as a parent, but as a human being.
You Make Lifelong Friends
As you grow in your role as mom and get to know other moms, you begin to see them less as members of different cliques, and more as compatriots. You find common ground with other moms – even the ones who you originally thought were completely different from you. You make friends with moms who are crunchy, silky, scrunchy, seemingly perfect, and self-described “hot messes”. You realize that despite your differences, there is one thing that ties you all together – mommydom. While not all mommy friends will stick with you forever, you do find some that you consider to be lifelong friends. And, as the years pass, you share the ups and downs with them – because no one can understand moms quite like other moms.
How to Make New Friends
If you’re feeling like entering mommydom is a lot like walking the halls of a new high school, take these 5 tips into consideration:
- Know your strengths.
Don’t give into your doubts. Know what you bring to the table to the people in your life and own it. You are amazing!
- Stop comparing.
You do yourself a disservice when you move through life comparing yourself to other people. Stop! Embrace yourself for who you are. Exactly as you are. You are enough.
- Embrace imperfection.
No one is perfect. Even the people who seem to be perfect. Stop trying to chase something that isn’t even attainable. It will only make you miserable. Especially if you’re doing it just so people will accept you. If they can’t accept you for who you are, they don’t deserve to be in your life.
- Respect differences.
Understand that we all have things that set us apart. And that there are a world full of different worldviews, belief systems, and lifestyle choices. It’s not our job to figure out which ones are the best. We just have to figure out which ones are best for US. Embrace your choices, respect others, and understand that you have the right to block any intolerant people from your life.
- Find common ground.
Despite the things that set us apart, I believe that we can all find something in common with each other. Seek out these commonalities when talking to fellow moms. You may be surprised by the things that you find relatable.