Sitting at the park the other day, watching Little P wonder and explore, I had the distinct displeasure of being surrounded by a group of Mommies who did nothing but gossip about other Mommies. Thankfully they weren’t people I knew, but the nastiness and bitterness that these women were using when talking to each other about other women just left a nasty taste in my mouth. So much so, I went and sat somewhere else.
I’m not disillusioned enough to think that women don’t talk about other women (or men for that matter). It’s kind of hard wired in us to want to talk about people we know (and don’t know), and as much as we don’t like to think it affects us, being envious of what some one else has, is or does, just happens. Maybe all too often.
What really bugged me about today though was two things; a) that they really were being very (and almost incredibly) cruel about the people who they were talking about and b) they were ignoring, almost completely, their kids. A child would come up to their Mommy and say they were hungry/thirsty and would have something shoved at them by their Mommy, without any recognition at all. I get that you are ‘talking’ with your friends, but really, is that necessary?
One child wanted to swing and his Mother said flat out ‘No’. Why? ‘Because I don’t want to swing you.’ Wow. I don’t always want to stand for hours on end and push Little P on a swing, but I do it. Because it makes her happy.
I just don’t get it. I don’t. Look, I know that when a bunch of women get together, they are going to start talking about things – how some celebrity popped out six kids and now has the body of a 16 year old. Or about the latest reality star and their mixed up life. But you want to know what my friends and I talk about when we get to the park? For a good 80% of it, we are talking about our kids. Because, when you are around people who have kids, you kind of get a free pass to talk about them. Because you know that when you meet up with your childless friends, there’s a really, really good chance that they don’t want to talk about potty training, or the latest installment in Junior’s career as an interior decorator (hey, give a kid markers and stickers and you just know they are going all over their walls). And that’s cool. You don’t want to talk about your kids 24/7 either.
But when you get the chance to be in an environment when you can ask and discuss things about kids, you kind of take the opportunity to do so. And the other 20%? We usually talk about the next ‘Mom’s Night Out’, or the latest sales, shows on TV… you know normal stuff.
What we don’t do (and I honestly don’t think we ever have) is verbally beat up someone who we know and isn’t there to defend themselves. Sure, if we know someone who just had a kid and had the good fortune to bounce back to a size 2 after it, we might wonder about how she did it, or if she’s just one of those people who do automatically go back to their pre-baby body (hey, it happens). But we don’t say things like ‘The woman should just successfully off herself. She really doesn’t deserve to live.’ Or things like ‘If I had a man like that, I’d be parading him around and selling him off to the highest bidder. No woman wants that much competition sniffing around.’ Or, this wonderful one ‘I really think she needs to do what’s right for everyone else and go and commit herself. Her kids would be better off, her husband would be better off. And we wouldn’t have to hear about what’s going on in her life All. The. Time.’ Yup. Harsh huh?
Now, I don’t know these women, and I don’t know the people they are talking about, but doesn’t this seem just a little aggressive? And here’s the kicker. About ten minutes after I moved, another Mommy came up to their group, and they were all hugs and kisses and ‘it’s so great to see you’…. and when she walked away to help her kids, it was on. ‘Man, she has some nerve turning up here today.’ ‘Did you see what she was wearing?’ ‘I told you, she needs to be in an institution.’
It’s moments like this that I thank my lucky stars that I have such a great group of women friends – from all walks of life, in all shapes and sizes and with a multitude of life experiences – who can get along. We aren’t perfect. We have our misunderstandings. But you know what? Our flaws are what make us who we are. And that’s what people love about us.
So please, don’t be a gossip girl. There are enough forces out there wanting to hurt us, without us adding to it.
Till next time, hug your girlfriends. Tell them how much you love them and how much they mean to you. Because you just never know when you are going to need them by your side.