Trouble At The School Gate? 'Talk To Her, Not About Her'
Though we'd love to imagine that schoolyard politics finish when we finally get rid of our uniforms, and become 'grown ups;' many moms find that not much has changed when they're at the school gate. In fact, you might have the same worries about the 'in-crowd', the flawless looks, and the people who seem to think they're better than everyone else; as you did as a child.
But as Constance Hall recently highlighted; it's far too easy to make assumptions:
"There was this women at school pick up everyday: I don't know what it was about her. She drove a nice car, held her head high and always had a blow dry. She spoke in a posh accent, wore nice (non stained) clothes and barely ever spoke to me. There I was, with my tits out breast feeding my babies, smelling like dried milk, matted hair, a puffy face from a morning in tears ... It was like she was put on this earth to amplify my insecurities.
So I did what a lot of women do and I tried to instigate a 'chat' about her to another mum, partly out of intrigue and partly hoping to make my feral-self feel better. But this other mums advice hit me with a big reality check: 'Talk to the woman not about her.'
So one day I sat next to her on the brick retainer wall outside the kindy room: I found out she is an ex addict, and holds AA meetings to help out other addicted women that want sobriety. I found out she struggles with her marriage, her kids, and her health just like the rest of us. I found out that she is a million things, snobby not being one of them: She is one of the most inspiring women I know.
Turns out I have a confident exterior too. Turns out that while sitting there hating my life without the confidence to talk to these gorgeous mums, they didn't have the confidence to talk to me, they thought I was too relaxed; that I thought I was too cool. And that mum, is now one of my best friends. So I'd like to remind mums everywhere to talk to the woman not about her.
Mish: I can't handle this school mum stuff !!! I'm super shy and when people finally talk to me, the first thing they say is ‘Ohhh you’re not stuck up at all’ ... I can't help that I have resting bitch face, and I'm socially awkward!
Claire: I had this too; but I forced myself to be less shy & now I'm the one that organises a 'mum’s night out' at Christmas (& sometimes during the year.) This will be my 13th year of organising it ... I'm still my shy-self inside until I get to know people, but I'm glad I took that step out of my comfort zone. Oh and the nights out are always looked forward too.
Amy: This really hit home to me! My partner and I dropped my 2 older children at school each morning like clockwork. The second term came along, and my partner and I didn't once drop them - my mum did. You can imagine the rumours? What people didn't know was that our baby Zeke had been born, with cancer. We finally got a couple of days when Zeke was doing well, and dropped my other two at school as we always used to; and we were greeted with stares. It took one lovely mother to come ask if I was alright: That lady turned my whole day around by asking a simple question. It's really shown me how: 'Are you ok?' can change someone's day: I know it has changed mine on more than one occasion.
Manda: Love this. My kids have started a new school, in an area where we don't know anyone. I have bright purple hair and tattoos everywhere, and my son has autism, so he's an individual too. I've felt so awkward the last couple of weeks and then I thought fk it, just talk to someone. I'm working on it still!
Meredith: This talk of popular mums cracks me up! I have this conversation about the popular kids at school with my teenage children. Who decides that the popular are popular? Only their own little group! Don't sweat it, appears they never grow out of it!
Katie: Been through a LOT! Had my confidence driven so down through a bad relationship, I'm left with zero; and I'm so socially awkward and shy now. Hate the school run! Don't know whether to smile and say hello, or walk straight past: Either way it's awkward as heck!
Sarah: My kids have just started a new school and only two parents have ever bothered to speak to me! Why do woman act like that? (Myself included to be fair.) It would be nice if we could all manage a hi or a smile while zipping up school bags and tying shoe laces!