Since my husband is a stay at home dad and our kids are 2 and 4, up until recently we’ve gotten to stay in our happy bubble. Between our families and our few close friends we are never at a lack for a play date with cousins or outings with our friends and their kids. My son has recently started school though. So we’ve had to step outside our comfort zone and be in semi social situations around other parents. I’ve since learned the pangs of being momxcluded (excluded by other moms).
It started with taking my kids to a birthday party where I didn’t know anybody. It was an outdoor play party. Thinking I’d be chasing after my kids I dressed relaxed in nice jeans, a t-shirt, and tennis shoes. I’m polite to everyone and comfortable enough with myself that I’ve never really have had an issue talking to people I don’t know in different social settings. So my kids and I got our refreshments and sat down across from two other moms and their kids.
I smiled and tried to ask about them about themselves, their kids, and how they knew the birthday kid. I noticed they scanned me up and down. Within a blink of an eye I went from being a confident adult woman to a little insecure girl. I felt shlubby when I realized they were wearing very strappy sun dresses with very strappy sandles. My attempts at small talk were meet with them giving each other side glances. I finally took the hint and quit trying. They happily carried on a conversation without me about people and things they knew and I didn’t. And just like that I was momxcluded.
I hated that I think of myself as secure, but then one encounter with these women made me feel small. It was, of course, temporary. Maybe they are judgey jerks. Maybe they were just coming from another event and had something important to talk about. I don’t know. But I am comfortable with my choices to dress to play with my kids and try to be nice to people I don’t know.
A different time I was waiting with a group of moms outside of my sons classroom. We were all there to help with an upcoming event. The loudest and brashest and apparent ring leader mom in the group had her youngest and rambunctious kid with her. I made what I thought was an innocent comment about how she was brave to bring him. I proceeded to get chewed out about how she doesn’t have any family here, and he had no place to go. I lightheartedly responded that I avoid taking my youngest anywhere if I can help it because she is absolutely nuts. And just like that I was momxcluded.
I realize now that I accidentally hit a sore spot that that mom was already self-conscience about, being the only one who had to bring another kid with her. What that mom didn’t know was that just the previous weekend I had to take my 2 year old to an event I had volunteered to help with. The last minute circumstances left me with choosing between canceling, leaving my husband with a mess to deal with, or trying to make it easier on everyone and take my 2 year old with me. It was a family orientated event and organization. So I took my chances, prayed my daughter would be good, prayed the people there would understand, and took her with me. You know what? The other moms who were there to work didn’t have young kids with them, and I felt self-conscience just like how this self-defensive mom did.
You know what else? I could go on. There have been a few more instances in my short time of interacting with other parents that I’ve been momxluded, and I am pretty sure there will be more. I kind of naively thought parents would be friendly, open, trying to set an example for their kids. But parents are just people. We all have good days and moments and bad days and moments just like anyone else. I feel myself becoming more and more awkward though and walking on egg shells in these situations.
At least now when it happens to my kids I’ve been reminded that no matter how strong and comfortable you are in your own skin it can still initially sting to be excluded.