On Friday, there was a bit of a Mean Girls “incident” in the sandpit. It involved Theo using toys that weren’t his and two separate mums coming together to gang up on me to tell me that I was doing a terrible job not teaching my son to play with his own toys.
I’m not going to go into the details of what happened, because just thinking about it makes me feel quite irate and I think I might end up spending too many paragraphs ranting about spoiled Balham mums and THEIR inability to teach THEIR children how to not to go crazy when another child picks one of their toys up off the floor to play with, in a public space that is full of shared toys. Yes he knocked some sand off your son’s volcano. IT’S MADE OF FUCKING SAND, IT’S GOING TO FALL DOWN SOONER OR LATER.
The saddest thing was that I’m the first to admit that Theo can be “spirited” (as he was described to me when he was about 18 months). He doesn’t listen, he can be pushy with other kids, and it’s hard work sometimes making sure that he’s playing nicely. I spend a lot of time apologising on his behalf and telling him off.
At the weekend he actually WAS trying to play nicely. When the little girl screamed at him for picking up her toy, he dropped it immediately and just went to find something else to play with. I felt so proud of him. I wanted to praise him, not feel like I should be telling him off (I didn’t, by the way, he did nothing wrong).
And what this whole thing has got me thinking about is the motherhood.
I’ve been extremely lucky that, since having Theo 3 and a bit years ago, I’ve had very few bad experiences of other mums. I’ve heard nightmare stories, of course, and the competitive mums at the school gates thing is such a well worn plot device it’s a cliche (apart from in Big Little Lies. Read it! Watch it! So great).
But I’d never really experienced it myself. There are loads of mums I don’t connect with, but they weren’t ever MEAN. I started to kind of believe that all of us mums of young kids were in it together. To paraphrase Brene Brown, everyone’s just doing the best they can with the tools they have available to them right now.
Well, sad times, but I think Brene might be wrong (sacrilege!).
I feel a bit like a democrat after the last US election. I’ve created this awesome little online bubble: I follow lots of brilliant mums and mum brands on Instagram, I’m in a WONDERFUL Facebook group, I work with a brilliant group of low maintenance mums, and my other mum friends are all brilliant. Now I worry I’m just in a giant echo chamber.
The sandpit incident reminded me that, actually, some people are just assholes. Becoming a mum changes many things about a person, but sadly that’s not one of them.
I still want to think most mums I come across do have a “you’re doing a great job” default setting toward other mothers, but now I’ve become aware of these awful people who don’t think they should teach their children to share, and shout “maybe you should buy your child his own toys” at me, I don’t know what to believe. (Side note: we HAD our own toys, funnily enough, they were all being played with by other children)
So, I’ve decided to pretend they don’t exist. My echo chamber is awesome. There are really SO many amazing mums in my life and out there on the internet, that I’m going to just focus on them. They’re the people I want to spend my time with and my thoughts on, they’re the motherhood in action.
And yes, you can totally sit with us.