When Nice Moms Turn Cliquish

Last night a comedy club hosted a night out for the moms in my neighborhood. I was looking forward to hanging with friends and meeting some new ones. I had also heard that a local mom was a co-owner of the place, and although I hadn’t met her yet, I was psyched for the opportunity to support her business. (I dream of launching my own business one day, and I find moms who have reached that goal to be really inspiring.) The event was scheduled for 8, which meant I could feed Mason and play with him before I headed over to the place, so I actually felt less guilty about going.

Unfortunately, what I encountered when I got to the club was not at all what I had unexpected.

A  friend and I arrived about 15 minutes early. After we were seated, we noticed that the front of the small venue was occupied by a group of women who were clustered together, chatting and laughing. Some moms were seated in the tables behind them, sort of just sitting there because they clearly didn’t know the group up front. My friend and I walked over to the larger group to introduce ourselves, but the reception was pretty icy. Finally, a woman stood up from their table and introduced herself as the co-owner.

“This is my mom’s group,” she said, waving her hand around the table.

We immediately felt like outcasts. We tried to make small talk with her and her friends for a few more minutes but  finally gave up and walked back to our table. I’m hoping that she, at least, had no intention of being so exclusive. Perhaps she was just caught up in the excitement of hosting her friends at her new club, and she didn’t stop to think about how those of us that she didn’t know would feel sitting on the fringes.

I enjoyed seeing my friends and meeting the awesome ones sitting next to us, but I was a little disappointed. My friends and I had left our kids at home to hang out with mean girls. As I watched the little clique, I wondered whether I had made other moms feel excluded in the past, too. After all, I have a small, chummy group of friends within the larger neighborhood network, but we feel like we’re always friendly and inclusive of others. What if we’re wrong? I want other moms around me to feel supported, not excluded. It was a good reminder to reach out to a mom I don’t know the next time I’m at the playground, or maybe buy the mom with the newborn a cup of coffee the next time I see her at our local coffee shop.

Have you been in a situation where you’ve felt left out by other moms?

Photo: Group of friends via CREATISTA /Shutterstock

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  1. by kat

    On March 10, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    I definitely have. No luck finding a united mom’s group yet.

  2. by monica

    On March 10, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Moving from the west coast to the east coast has brought this very subject to light for me. On the west coast there is a huge flux of people moving from various places and I always found myself welcomed at new venues.
    The east coast however is made up of generations of families and newcomers are considered outsiders and I have found myself in similar situations as described above. I am lucky enough that we moved closer to our families and can visit with my sisters and enjoy a night out a few times a year, but it’s otherwise rather lonely being an outsider!

  3. by brandi

    On March 10, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    i havent really meet any other moms or groups its hard to and most of my friends went their seperate ways when i had kids so i am pretty much a stay at home mom 24/7 with 3yr old and 4 month old. the times i have been out i have seen snooty moms the judgemental looks they give like oh my god shes dressed like that or her kids are wearing that or she is letting her daughter do that. just stuff like that its crazy. but i get passed it because i know i do the best for my kids and me.

  4. by Jennifer

    On March 10, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Definitely have felt this way. My family is very midwestern and moved to CA (military brat right here), and a job led to me to OC. Talk about a “Real Housewives of Orange County” get together! The Moms were doing status-quo comparisons of their houses, husband’s jobs, etc. etc. and not a word about their kids. I’ve been lucky enough to make a couple close friends, and that’s all I need. I hardly go anywhere with my Mommy group anymore.

  5. by Star

    On March 10, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    The small town I live in, doesn’t have anything like that…
    I am (was) on the PTO for my 11 1/2 yr.olds school, but since my baby, he’s 4 months old, came along I’ve been pushed to the side.
    I’ve asked repeatedly for them to remind me the day before a meeting & to not schedule night mtgs., b/c I just can’t make those.
    They’ve done the complete opposite & haven’t even updated me on the last 2 mtgs. (at night)…
    It’s upsetting that they so quickly forget.
    One of them told me to just ‘leave the baby w/ dad!’
    It doesn’t work that way, dad has to be in bed by 7:30pm, to get up @ 3am for work!
    So, I always try & be considerate of peoples schedules, no matter what….

  6. by Irene

    On March 10, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    I think I have– but it’s mostly of my own choice I think… I have 2 neighbours with kids– they have 2 kids each, one about 5 the other about 2. I have a 2 y.o. and it’s great when they all play together– although mine is the youngest… The 2 other neighbours are always over each others’ houses and having brunch/lunch/dinner together… Totally in each others houses… I’m kind of not into that… I don’t mind hanging out with them, but not 24/7. It’s nice and convenient though, when they can spell each other off, but they are super nice whenever I’m around… I may come off as stand-off-ish though… So my doing…

  7. by Elisabeth

    On March 10, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Several months ago I joined a Mom’s club in a nearby city. There are about 70 women, but divided into tables of about 8 to 10 each. I guess it would be impossible to make a table just for newcomers, but I sure wish they did. I was put at a table with an already established group of late 20 and 30 something married with husbands. I’m a single 40 year old first time Mom!
    When I drove into the parking lot on the first day I should have known by the squeek my older car made. It sure looked out of place amongst all the new Suv’s! I was seated at the table with women who clearly either stay at home or work part time. One does sewing out of her home. All are perfectly coifed, wear expensive clothes, and most live in a small Northern California city that they grew up in.
    I’ve tried to interject questions, funny comments, and stories. They are met with looks of almost boredom… immediately after I shut up they are back to talking about their lives and places they all go. I’m from the Midwest originally and although shy, I’m a good listener and friendly. However, I am meetings away from just quitting the group.

  8. by Coral

    On March 10, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Yes, yes I have. I became a mom when I was 20 and well all my high school friends well they where doing something else. Now 28 and with two kids the only friends I have are old friends in facebook. I live in LA and it should not be that hard to see new faces but I don’t have a single friend besides family to go out for coffee and talk other than family problems. It’s hard to open up to get rejected by another mom so I just keep to my self. Being from a mexican background I wonder if mom are only for white moms lol.

  9. by Kristin

    On March 10, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    It is sad, but it seems not much has changed since high school. I have one new mom friend (my son is 8 mos and hers is 11 mos) she found me when we were taking a walk in our condo complex. Other than her that is is. I have been to a couple of different mom groups and it seems everyone there is nice enough, but they already have their cliques and we never get farther than basic introductions. I am glad to have the one mommy friend though because the rest of my old friends either have kids who are junior high age, or no kids at all.

  10. by Karen Pearson

    On March 10, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Yes I definitely have. I haven’t joined any mommy clubs per se, but with my oldest daughter, when she was in elementary school (she’s in middle schl now), I would take her to parties or playground playdates & I almost immediately got the icy stares. I think it had to do with the fact that when she was in kindergarten, I was in my late 20s & all the other moms were in their 40s lol. And no one ever really talked to me, all they had to talk about was the new car they just got, how rich their husbands are, their new house, vacations,etc & I just couldn’t relate to / contribute anything to that. Still can’t. And its things like that which make it hard to make friends- its just easier to stay home & be alone than to put yourself out there & get rejected. And I’m white so I don’t think its a racial thing, I think its a age/ social class issue.

  11. by Fran

    On March 10, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    I moved to a new town a few months ago and have found the friendliest place for moms has been the YMCA. I signed up for a kindergym class for my son and have met a few moms there. Then, I just went to my first Zumba class and met a couple moms there as well. I don’t know how well I will get to know them, but they at least seemed friendly and welcoming. Many of them had moved here as well, so it’s nice to know so many of us are in the same boat. I hope to be more inclusive and friendly to all the mothers I meet because it definitely helps to support each other, no matter our differences!

  12. by Kelsey

    On March 10, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    I feel like this every time I go out with my 16 month old son. I’m not very social but I love meeting other moms. I’ve met a great bunch of moms through meetup.com but it’s still kind of hard for me to bring myself to introduce us to a group of other moms and kids at a park or other places. Something about a group of chatty moms is SO intimidating.

  13. by Tere

    On March 11, 2012 at 4:37 am

    Star -it is quite selfish of you to expect the PTO to change the meetings from evenings to suit you. Many Mums do not have the luxury of being home during the day we are out to work – then have to come in to dinner etc before going out again. Many would probably expect someone on maternity leave to need a committee break esp if they complain the baby depends only on them.

    Cliques – group dynamics would suggest small groups work best.

  14. by Hannah

    On March 11, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Tere-I think it is rude of them to not include her. Honestly I have never ever heard of night meetings to begin with. Our PTO always meets during clubs after school. In the event that any other member cannot make the meeting we take notes for that person on the topics we go over for future events at the school so that way they are kept up to date and have a chance to be part of what ever is going on. Just because one has a new baby does not mean they should be cut out of everything. But I guess it all depends on how considerate others are around you and obviously they have as little compassion as you and that is such a shame.

    As for me I tend to stay away from mommy groups and have let my daughter make friends on her own. While there is a good side to having a group of mommy friends I feel it is more clique statement then anything. I get along well with my daughter’s friends parents and we do converse a bit when our children play together but they are not my “hang out” or “go to” friends. In my experiences most mommy groups tend to be more about personal competition then anything, bragging about what their child or husband can do or how their lives are always so much better then everyone elses.

  15. by Mary P

    On March 11, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Hannah, I’m completely with Tere here. Parents cannot completely be accommodated 100% of the time. It sounds like Star is wanting them to bend to HER – when they all otherwise seem to be making the meetings.

    As a Boy Scouts Pack Chair – you’d be surprised how many parents demand we change already set schedules (by popular votes in the first few meetings for the dens) to accommodate their ONE child – when the other 10 boys are able to show up.

    Ideally, we like to have all the parents and boys there. But it’s not possible, it’s also not possible to constantly be taking notes for a member who can’t ever seem to show up.

    We’ve scheduled the trips to the aquarium, police department, etc. – but there’s inevitably that one parent that says “but I can’t go because my OTHER child has something going on… CHANGE IT!”. We didn’t (actually couldn’t based on activities set up special just for us) and she took her kid to another pack… who did the same thing so I hear and she got even huffier and pulled her son out altogether.

    We schedule times where the most can participate as possible. Not to make sure that the loudest parent gets their demands met. Not every scout can make every event and meeting – but good parents (especially with those interested in true Boy Scout principles) realize this and have been dreams to work with. I’ve even had a parent demand we change a den’s scheduled Wednesday meetings (a slot given to us by a lovely church) because her son decided he wanted to play ball… and to have meetings on different nights based on his ball game nights! We can’t have parents come Fridays, then Mondays, then Tuesdays, etc. What if the other parent misses a week and doesn’t get the info that the next week it’s a different night? I’ve also been told that if we change the meeting times, we could just have it at MY house… (my husband is Bear den leader). Seriously?? Imposing on MY house!

    And FWIW, my son’s school PTA meets at 6pm at night once a month (the night varies). There are notes available for all parents but they can’t change around times and dates to accommodate one parent.

  16. by Shanna

    On March 12, 2012 at 12:03 am

    Yes, I have. The one I remember most: my friend and I met up at a local indoor playground to let our kids play. Some kind of mom’s group happened to be there at the same time. When we walked up to the play area, a woman approached us to ask us if we were with their group (I’m assuming she was the one in charge, but I don’t know), and she seemed to be looking at us as though she was thinking, “Who are these people and why are they here?” When we said no, that was pretty much the end of it, no further conversation, she didn’t tell us about what their group was or invite us to be a part of it in any way.

    Everyone there that day seemed to be part of that group, and some of the moms seemed nice enough, but no one really talked to me. My friend has twins, and there was another lady there with twins, so they chatted a few different times, which made me feel even more isolated (I don’t resent my friend at all for talking with the other lady, I’m sure it’s very nice and helpful to talk with another mom who understands the challenges of raising twins, I just ended up feeling like I was the only one there who wasn’t visiting with someone during the times when they were talking).

    No doubt there are some women who intentionally exclude others, but I’m guessing that most do it unintentionally. We definitely click with some people and not with others, and we develop friendships over time and are certainly going to enjoy our friends’ company when we’re with them, but we should also remember to try to include other moms who appear to be on the fringe by actively looking for them and trying to include them. We need to remember what it was like the first time we ventured out to a mom’s event and didn’t know anyone. I am talking to myself here too, this post has been a good reminder for me.