Maybe one of the hardest things to deal with when your child starts school is that you end up back in the schoolyard yourself.
As a working mother – and one that doesn’t get to school drop off or pick up as regularly as she’d like – I often find myself without too many familiar faces to align myself with in the quadrangle.
I’m now at that point in my life where I have enough friends and enough confidence, that I don’t need to be liked by strangers in a schoolyard. But there was a time, when I was a new school mum, that I so desperately wanted to be.
I’m lucky enough to be able to pick up my son two afternoons a week from school. He loves this. I love this too. But I still find myself, after more than nine years as a school parent, able to spot the different kind of “School Mums” out there.
Firstly, for the uninitiated, you need to know that this is not unlike high school. You will find your tribe, the ones your find common ground with; the ones you like. But there will also be the ones that you need to avoid.
If you thought you were done with cliques in high school, I’m sorry to inform you that you’re sadly mistaken. You are about to encounter the following six kinds of Mums:
1. The Mumzilla
Mumzillas usually roam in packs but always have a distinct leader. She will be the one that organises where coffee will take place directly after the bell has sounded and she is the one that decides who is allowed to join in their group. Generally Mumzillas judge every single other mother based on looks/wealth and the car that they drive. They operate with a pack mentality and are pretty much just adult Mean Girls.
2. The Avon Mum
This Mum acts normal if not a little too friendly. She even invites you over for a fun ‘girls’ night. Next thing you know you’re sitting in a trust circle testing out overpriced plastic ware, lashtastic mascara and environmentally friendly cleaning products. Unfortunately these Mums don’t really want to be your friend. They do, however, want the contents of your address book and a guarantee that you’ll host a party at a future date. Avoid.
3. The Gym Mum
This Mum is fairly self-involved so don’t worry about being accosted or invited into her group. No, she has some fairly heavy duty treadmill action awaiting her as evidenced by the lycra outfit and visor she sports daily. Look, she’s probably lovely but really, if you’re not going to be able to participate in the City 2 Surf, she’s not really going to have much left to chat with you about.
4. The Over-volunteerer
You will find this Mum in your child’s classroom, passive aggressively noting that she’s ‘not seen you in the classroom before’, or in the Tuckshop ordering you to chop the lettuce faster, or at the P & C committee meeting stamping documents aggressively. Don’t get me wrong, we need volunteers.
In fact, when I can, I do volunteer. I just don’t make it my life’s work. Or make it my sole mission to point out that those who can’t, are somehow irresponsible. It’s almost unreal how charitable she is. Her efforts to be kind and helpful are noteworthy, but so exhausting to watch, and you cannot help but feel a little worthless in her company.
5. The Quinoa Mum
This Mother will be at the ready to discuss with you the correct way to pronounce ‘Quinoa’, her stand-up home birth, and the benefits of a lunchbox based entirely on kale-based snacks. You will of course pretend that the kid in the corner eating a packet of Samboys has nothing to do with you. This mother will be easy to identify by the three-year-old strapped to her chest and the rainbow headscarf.
6. The Red Carpet Mum
This mother is intimidating and actually, is often be really nice but it just looks like she’s out of your league. I’ve met some of these Mums at parties and out of school activities and sometimes they are ace.
But often, these Mums who also gather in groups, appear to be about to attend an event that will also be attended by George Clooney, and it’s only 8:45am.
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This is often the prelude to a coffee/lunch/afternoon tea date and by god, they are ready. To talk about how their butler just isn’t pulling his fucking weight and getting dinner to the table on time.
Look, I generalise, sure. But, in my experience, the above are the mums that often intimidate and offend. Not always but often. Know, though, that your child’s schoolyard, just like your own schoolyard so many years ago, will also afford you the opportunity to find your own tribe, your people. My advice? Don’t get caught up in the popularity bullshit and just find other parents you relate to.
Do you recognise these mums from your school gate?