My Mom Says That Your Mom Is Weird...

Emma has gymnastics every Tuesday morning. She loves this class with all of her heart and happily bounds into the gymnasium each week. I like this class because unlike other ballet or gymnastic schools we have been to, I do not have to stick around and make small talk with all of the other moms who invite me to playgroup and ask me how I could possibly survive without my husband home and why in the world I would want to homeschool my children! This school offers you an out-there is a golden piece of paper that you sign your name to and leave your cell number in case they need to get a hold of you and then you can run free without your 5 year old for an entire hour. Amazing, I know.

I can get a lot done in an hour without Emma. Without Em I can get the grocery shopping done, have the van oil changed, mail 100 packages at the post office, end world hunger and discover the cure for the common cold. I am not kidding. With Em I can basically get her socks on in an hour. Maybe only one sock... that is how slow she is. It is not a bad thing, Emma just likes to stop and smell the roses in life. She stops and smells every rose she can possibly find.

I must admit that I really do like to escape the gymnastics waiting room. I am not one of those moms who needs to chat with other moms about little Billy's toilet habits or why little Molly won't stop biting her baby brother. (I have a blog to do that). I have never been able to make that kind of small talk with other women because I usually look at them and say things like "Are you neurotic?' or "What kind of medication are you on?" I also loathe playgroups. Don't get me wrong, I love love love to have my children play with other children, but they are usually children that I have done an extensive background check on to make sure they aren't little destroyers disguised in a sweet little body. Playgroups to me are more for the mom and not so much for the kids. I have been to so many playgroups where a kid is trying to get their mother's attention because he has had a toy stolen from him or some other little kid took a two-by-four to their head, and the mom is getting more and more irritated that she having to stop her conversation about the use of Splenda in baking and how it is just wonderful to feed your children healthy cookies with chemicals that they are not sure if they cause cancer or not but dammit little Billy! JUST GO PLAY! Can't you see mommy is having her own playgroup while you play with other kids who will hit you, bite you, and make you feel inferior? It is all part of the circle of life so deal with it Mufasa.

No, I am not a playgroup kind of mom so that makes me an outcast in the gymnastics waiting room. A person of interest on the mom list. "You see that blond woman over there? The one who thinks she is 10lbs. lighter than what she really is? She doesn't do playgroups! Can you believe it? Who does she think she is? Does she really think she can parent her young children without the social interaction of little bullies and brats? The nerve!"

Well, yesterday was "parent participation" day at gymnastics. This is basically a way for the instructors to show the moms what their children are learning in the class. It is actually kind of sweet and the kids love to have mom or dad in there with them... but let me tell you, it is like the back stage of a beauty pageant for the moms. I must say that if all of the moms are as nice to their children when other people aren't watching and judging them as they are in plain view, well then the Safe Haven law here in Nebraska is going to be getting a reprieve from all of the 5-17 year olds that have been dropped off in the past few weeks. Phew.

I must admit that I fall victim to this evil charade as well. Of course I don't want strangers knowing that I yell at my kids, that I send them to their room when I have had enough or that I call them "twerp" or blame them for my future admission to the loony bin. I want strangers to think I am a fabulous mother and we live a fabulous life and my kids are so well behaved that they need to say things to me like "How do you do it oh wise and powerful one?"

Yeah... none of that fabulous stuff happened for me yesterday. You see, on these parent participation days, younger siblings are not allowed in the gymnasium. This means that you have to find someone to watch your baby for an hour while you go skip around a smelly gymnasium with your 5 year old proving to the world that you are a great mom to this kid... but a bad mom to the one you just dumped off at the babysitters.

I don't have a babysitter for my kids. I watch them myself. I don't have any friends who do not work and I could drop the baby off with because if you remember, we recently moved here and all of the friends I have here are the ones that I have had for years now and they all stopped having children about 10 years ago so I am the only one who is not only old, but also has young children at home during the day. And... AND... My husband is GONE! Yesterday I was really twerked off that he was gone and not home to watch the baby for me. The nerve!

So I went to gymnastics with Emma and the baby. I even put little Mary in my wrap that binds her to my body in such a way that she could not escape if she tried to... not even if she bribed me with kisses and hugs.

I was not allowed into the gymnasium with Emma. I was shunned. I now know what it felt like to have lived in Salem during the witch trials. The gymnastic rulers of the world reminded me that younger siblings were not welcome into the big gymnasium because why? They may have fun? Or they may smile and giggle? Oh... because they could interrupt the Olympic hopefuls that are taking gymnastics at the ripe age of 5.

So Emma was the only kid there without a mom. All of the other moms looked at me and shook their heads as they filed past in their tight sweat pants and stocking feet. I should have grabbed Emma out of class so that she would not have to endure such a long hour without her mother there to participate with her... so that she was not an outcast while all of the other little brats had their fabulous mothers with them and Emma's mom, the lady in jeans and a sweatshirt in the waiting room? She was labeled a BAD MOM by all of the women who were able to get their lives together that morning and find someone to watch their babies.

But I didn't drag Emma out. I know how much she loves gymnastics so I sat on the other side of the glass windows and watched her the entire hour. I clapped when she did something good and I cheered when she accidentally tripped a mother walking by. After class we went out for a Happy Meal... because sometimes you need a little trans fat to right a wrong.

So the Mother of the Year Award is still up for grabs if any of you would like to take it from me. I know you are out there... but you are going to have to come up with something a lot better then "Tommy screamed that he hated me in the middle of Church last weekend" to steal this award from me. It takes a lot of be mother of the year. Do you have what it takes? Do ya?


Cool Cooking Chicks said...

This sucks sweaty donkey b@lls.

And I'm just enough of a redneck to have told them it sucks.

warren said...

We don't do play groups either. I know some folks whose kids don't know how to play with siblings or by theselves since their parents constantly set up play dates. The kids just don't know what to do with themselves without some other kids coming by. That won't be us. My kids have to play together or alone...but they have to amuse themselves sometimes. I don't scheudle all their time for them. I also don't do the "soccer mom" crap (though, I am a dad). I don't dress up for games. I don't smile pretty at open house. I don't make silly small talk about the normal 30-something topics. It's a tedious waste of a life. Stick to your guns!

Teri said...

I won't get the award either.
But I did love reading your commentary on the sociology of playgroups and gymnastics waiting rooms. Ugh. I think I've heard that very same Splenda discussion!

Soul Pockets said...

Yep I pretty much can't stand play groups or small talk. I am also not as nice as you are. If I am paying money for classes and I can keep my baby under control they would have heard an earful from me. I guess I will also have to pass on the mother of the year award.

Mary Poppins NOT said...

I have the same situation with my kid's choir. The "fly on the wall" parent visiting rehearsals were this week, and because my husband works crazy long hours, and because the little kids are not allowed, I couldn't go. Fortunately, my children are used to this, and don't feel bad about it, but I tell you, this world is not made for families larger than average size. It just isn't.

I get actual hateful stares from some moms now that my pregnant belly is beginning to show. They avoid me like it is catching.

Oh well.

Heather said...

I love your blog. I just discovered it. You are such a talented and funny writer. I think you are exactly right about playgroups! That is so true. And that is really unfair about them not letting you in to watch your oldest in gymnastics!

Anonymous said...

This happens to me with ballet, parent observation in school and so many other dumb things and my response always is: "You mean, the other moms were there TODAY????? Oh dear, mommy forgot".

I seem to remember my mom saying that a lot. I was the 2nd of eight.

Leigh said...

BWa-ha-ha-ha! I agree totally! The idea of "playgroups" makes me break out in an itchy rash.

We just brought home our newborn son from the hospital at 1:00am a month ago. Later that same day, some of the neighborhood idiots, er, I meant ANGELS, decided it was a fun game to sneak up on our porch, ring the doorbell and run.

I suppose I should be nominated for Worst New Mother of the Year for the sign I subsequently placed beside the doorbell. Let's just say it ends with, "Please don't make me kill you."

Thanks for your blog...I read it every day and think you're hilarious!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Bless you!!! I thought I was the only one who hated playgroups/playdates/waiting room banter!
I have failed in running for the "Mother of the Year Award" for 13 consecutive years.
Jen in OK

Kathy said...

that is so wrong what the gymnastics studio did. I often have a nursing baby with me when I go places. That's life. makes me want to call them and give me a piece of my mind.

Christine said...

LOL Oh my, this "playgroup" thing is SO NOT MY THING either. I tried it out but found that since I did not fall into one of three groups (1. Had a newborn, 2. Pregnant, or 3. Try DESPERATELY to get pregnant) I too was an outcast. Good for you for deciding you don't need them, that took my 9 months I'll NEVER get back ;-)

That sucks what they did to you guys at the gym though. I'm sure your daughter will thank you someday for not forcing her to play with Tommy-the hitter and Suzy-the bitter ;-)

Gretchen said...

That really sucks, and why the hell would it matter if you had a babe in your arms?

I felt for you the whole time I was reading.

Poor You. You're a good mom

Kimberly said...

Excellent rant.

I think babies that are attached to you should be able to be attached to you wherever you go. Sigh.

I hate random playgroups, too. I don't mind issue-driven groups, but those random ones where they just slap you together....bleck.

My "worst mom of the year" day was today. My son has watched THREE hours of Max and Ruby and Little Bear. Of course I threw out my back earlier today and have no ability to do much with him, (seriously....I had to call my neighbor to come over and pick him up so that I could change a dirty diaper), and this keeps him from rearranging my kitchen knives.


Sometimes being a parent is hard.

Out on a Limb said...

You are seriously in my head. I put my *son* in gymnastics and could barely take the "gymnastics moms". I had many strikes against me including being under 30 with four children and god forbid...putting my SON in gymnastics. When I found out I was pregnant with #5 we never went back because I could not possibly listen to the barrage of comments about how young I am to have five children. They were already picking me apart and analyzing my every move with the other ones.

Oh, and one Mom and I got in big trouble once for sneaking into a side room with our toddlers so they could play on the foam contraptions. Man, that was bad and we got a tongue lashing from Miss Gymnastics Teacher. Apparently, this is a MAJOR insurance liability and we had way crossed the line. At least I had a partner in crime. But she just liked to get me alone so she could grill me about whether or not I was pregnant when I got married and if my kids all had the same baby daddy.

And I don't do playgroups either. Or MOPS. That is one catty, catty group to belong. "Oh, we all love Jesus and our children! Let's get together and chat and do crafts and make small talk! By the way, my husband bought me a new BMW convertible for my birthday, what'd you get?" PUKE!

Kasia said...

If the airlines don't charge extra for a babe in arms, they have no business complaining.

But that's just MHO.

Stupid Fat Hobbit said...

Ooh, ooh, ooh, Mr. Kotter, my turn, Mr. Kotter, my turn! (Horshack, if you don't know him, you're too young)

Ok, I'm a dude so I don't get invited to many 'playgroups' - they really don't know what they're missing because I'm a military spouse and was weaned on Bunco and am more fun to be around than a cat with duct tape on its feet; but I digress.

When Becka was little and was in gymnastics, she used to get invited to go over and play with some of those playgroups but I would look the moms straight in the eye and tell them, "I don't want my daughter hanging around with your daughter." They would start to laugh and I'd raise an eyebrow and put on my best sarcastic smile and their cute little laugh would just slowly die away. It was like watching a smiley faced balloon deflate...it was so much fun.

Don't worry June, God loves you, He just has a funny way of showing it. 8-P

The Queen of Krinkeland said...

Your post made me cry.

I don't even take my kids to the park because I don't like to chit-chat with the mother hens. I also have no drop-in day care and take my younger children everywhere with me. I, too, chose Happy Meals as the pick-us-ups of choice today.

But I WANTED you to do stupid gymnastics with Emma, and I WANTED her to have you there.

Lynnie said...

What a mean policy! As a teacher I would have never been able to turn away a parent with baby, even if it went against insurance regulations!

My older daughter has taken gymnastics for a while now, and my younger daughter would often cry at the door wanting to go into the gymnastics room too. It was a 3yrs and up class so I had to persuade her to stand outside the glass window with me. Finally I asked if she could join the class a few months before her third birthday and they had no trouble with that at all!

Well, good for Emma for hanging in there and still enjoying herself!

Lindsay said...

I would've been furious if they'd not allowed me to see my child. It's not like the baby would be running around getting into things. It's duct-taped to your body.

I'm with you on playdates. I have no problems getting my daughter together with one person at a time who's her friend (and her mom mine), but the giant playdate is not for me. I'm not big on being in groups of people I barely know and then having to be forced to make small talk, and I wouldn't want to overwhelm my daughter for the sake of social development. That's what preschool will be for next year.

Urban Mom said...

Oh man, you made me laugh and almost cry all at once. I've never done a playgroup. A mom I know wants to start one for our kids who just miss the Sept 1 Kindergarten deadline, but I keep dodging her. If they're all as unhappy and crabby as she is, I'd likely go postal. And I like homeschooling 'cause I'm not a "joiner" by nature. And it's so weird that the gym did that to you. Helloooo? Their business is about FAMILIES being their CUSTOMERS??!!!
And 'cause none of us can hear it often enough, you're an awesome mom, June!

Kathleen said...

Totally with you on the playgroups, never found a use for them. But I did occasionally enjoy evesdropping on the "alpha moms" in my son's gym class.

She'll never remember if you were in the room or not, but she will remember her sister AND her mother's smiling face through the glass. That's what family is about.

Janny said...

Are you paying for these classes? How about a nice letter asking for a refund?
And how about putting that same nice letter in the op-ed page of the newspaper?
And how about sending that same nice letter to the corporation that runs the organization giving these lessons?

To deny a mom with a baby from being with her 5-year-old in Mom's Day in class proves, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the entire system has Missed The Point. And if not one other mom stepped up beside you and said, "If she's not in there, I'm not either," then the entire group of moms has Missed The Point as well.

I'd go for the jugular. E-mails, letters, as public and as LOUD as possible. I'd let people know that if they have any other younger children, they're basically not welcome in this class, because there's going to be a time when they're gonna have to dump the younger ones so the older one can be a "star" without them.
And I'd encourage them NOT to sign up as long as that provision is in there.

Yeah, you can probably tell I didn't do playgroups, either.:-)

That whole "playgroup" thing reminds me of one particular birthday of my son's--I think it was when he was seven or eight, in that area--when I invited a bunch of his little boy classmates over for his party. One of the moms called me to RSVP and asked, "So what activities do you have planned?"

I said, "Oh, you know. Food, cake, ice cream, presents. The usual."

To which she said, "Is that ALL?"
She then proceeded to tell me about her son's birthday party which was an hour and a half long and she had planned pretty much an activity for every part of it--because "an hour and a half is a long time. They have to have games and stuff to keep them amused, or they'll go wild..."

To which I said, "That's what back yards are for. They'll all take Matt's football or wiffle ball or one of his presents outside, and they'll play outside where little boys belong, and they'll have a great time."

She was like, "Ohhh, boy. I hope you know what you're doing."

Now, my son's birthday is near the end of March, and the weather is almost always nice--at least nice enough for little boys to go outside and play. (You know, less than a Category 3 hurricane. Yeah. Nice enough.)

So they went outside. They had a ball. And so did I. But I have a sneaking feeling that to this day that mom doubts I was telling her the whole truth...(!)

Ah, well.
My take,

+JMJ+ said...

Moms ignoring their children for conversation...seen it.

You're dead on.

Aubrey said...

I can't believe I missed this entry when you first posted it and I CANNOT BELIEVE that you were not allowed into the gym with a (restrained) child!! Wow! My chin dropped to my chest and I had to re-read what you had written!

This reminds me of the reading times at the library in our city. A parent has to accompany the toddler but no babies are allowed. People still ask me why I don't go.


Laurie from GA said...

O.K., you are the little voice in my head that I catch myself having a conversation with constantly! I can't quit laughing and reading!

I found your blog yesterday (can't remember how), but started reading your posts in reverse - huh?!

This one is too perfect. My 3 yr old daughter just finished gymnastics and it took everything I had to have to sit and listen to the other moms in the "watching area". (Kinda like looking into a zoo cage.) I really think my ears were bleeding several times throughout this session! I just sat back and listened in shock and awe or was it disgust!?!? ie: colors to pain the kitchen, how long they breast fed, how clueless their husbands are, etc.

But guess what, tomorrow I have my first playdate (it's been 3 yrs since my last one for my son) for my daughter. I HATE PLAYGROUPS for all of the reasons you mentioned! But we live in a neighborhood with 13 boys and no girls for her to play with. So, I'm having to stoop to the level of bribing little girls in to play with her.

Wish me luck, I can only hope that the other two moms are as honest, fun and "hating it" as much as me!!!

If so, we could become great friends!