I’ve been thinking that Mean Girls, which is one of my top three favorite movies, deserves a sequel. Mean Moms. Only they could make it a documentary. Because holy crap, batman. Living in the suburbs gives moms a whoooooole new level of catty. It’s soccer moms on super-steroids. The suburbs are fricking terrifying.
The Mean Moms around me are the ones who call the cops to bust a woman who carries her child a few meters from the car into the grocery store wearing a hand-knitted blanket instead of a designer coat.
Anyway, it seems like cop caller lady wasn’t the only piece of work in my area. Something happened this week that left me absolutely reeling.
I belonged to the town mom group on facebook, which is primarily a craigslist sort of thing and a place where people also provided reviews or asked mom-type questions. I wasn’t very active on the site, really, but it was a pretty good resource in terms of getting forum-type answers if I had a mom question.
But several days ago, I made a fatal mistake. It was made out of ignorance and confusion, but it was a mistake nonetheless. Someone, we’ll call her Carla, was selling a baby bike seat and I jumped on the opportunity because id wanted to get one for Husband for his birthday so that he could take the papoose on bike rides. I’d seen people comment “interested” on a sale item, and everyone after that would type “next.” Good system, right?
Well, someone had asked a question about the item before I expressed interest. We’ll call her Ida. Carla had answered Ida’s question, and because Ida hadn’t said anything after that, I honestly assumed I was first in line, and I happily messaged Carla to co-ordinate pickup details. We had a nice little exchange of words, and when Carla posted on the thread that the item was pending pick up, Ida got a little upset and wrote “wait, I thought I was first? I’m definitely interested!” Carla replied that she thought the item was supposed to go to the first person who typed “interested” as that is what she’d seen people do on the site, and she was sorry for the misunderstanding.
But then six or seven moms jumped down our throats, posting copies of the group rules, telling us not to skip people, and apparently tattling to the administrators. (There are only a few rules listed officially, but there are hundreds of secret rules that you get lynched if you break.) By the group rules, yes, Ida was first in line. But she hadn’t said she was interested, I explained, or contacted Carla, so I offered a higher bid.
And oh my god, you would have thought I’d said I thought the nazi party should take over America. People flipped. A. Shit. They called me shady and I replied that I didn’t think it was, that I saw nothing in the rules about bidding, and in fact I’d seen bidding wars before on the site! Both administrators jumped in on the thread then.
Let’s just stop for a second and talk about my interactions with them prior to this event. They were mainly limited to rolling my eyes at how admin number two would post selfies for all several thousand of us to admire.
Admin 1 told me that it just wasn’t how things were done, that people who offered higher bids would be kicked out of the group without notice. The other told me that I’d “never seen bidding wars on this site. Ever.” I’d already backed down and said that Ida could have the bike seat several comments ago, but the shit storm just kept raging.
Later that day, Ida messaged me and Carla and said that she’d felt Jesus telling her to let me have the bike seat. I said thanks but no thanks, and apologized for coming off so aggressively. I hadn’t meant to offend, honestly. I was PMSing and people from philly are just aggressive by nature. I had a nice chat with both Carla and Ida, and it was all smoothed over. Ida even tried to buy the bike seat and give it to me, but I just didn’t want the reminder of all that drama. I also wrote to the admin who threatened to kick me out, and here’s our exchange:
Me: Please do not remove me from the moms group! It was truly ambiguous as to whether or not Ida was interested in the bike seat and I didn’t know. Further, there is nothing in the rules stated about outbidding. And your comment on the post you said that members who outbid iwould be removed, but I had no idea.
Admin 1: While there is nothing stated about outbidding what I said in the post about OBO is how it works plus it is just common courtesy as many moms on the site frown upon that. However rule #5 does state that asking a question does put one in line. I also think the comments you put on the thread were offensive to some moms. We are all just moms trying to get good finds for our kids and try to be respectful to each other.
Fast forward a few days and I still feel like shit. I was just dumb, just a noob, and made a rookie mistake.
So I decided to message the administrators, as the group blurb urges us to contact them with any questions, concerns, or suggestions (or, apparently, tattles). I wrote a very reasonable message saying that I realized that I was in the wrong and had apologized to both parties involved, and that my mistake had come just from ignorance so it would be really great if they could post that it is indeed against the rules to outbid, or maybe even put it in the official rules. Especially if it’s a serious enough secret rule that they threaten to kick moms out for it. I also quoted admin number 2 telling me that I had never seen a bidding war, and pointed out that I had in fact seen one just that day, even though it was a “make me an offer” type deal. I said that the outrageous backlash of anger I got for an honest mistake seemed really harsh, and that I was pretty upset about it.
And here was the response:
Admin 2: Ok…where to start. First, you have been a member for over 3 months. Usually when someone is a member of a group they lurk for a while to get the feel of the group, learn how things work, etc. That is why it was perplexing to us when you didn’t know that we don’t have bidding wars in the Moms Group. You were extremely defensive and inappropriate in your responses in that thread. I never asserted that you were lying. I actually assumed that you had mistaken something you had seen in another group for bidding going on in the Moms Group. As you just said, there is a difference between “make me an offer” and skipping over people for the higher bidder.
I’m a bit confused as to why you think my post today had anything to do with you or that situation about the bike seat. I’m also really annoyed that you are telling us that we need to change our rules, when you seem to be the only one who has an issue not understanding them. All you had to do was ask for clarification, but instead you lash out and tell us that we are doing it wrong. Really, Annie?
I was seriously appalled and pissed the hell off.
So pissed off that I had Husband, who is much more diplomatic than me, write my response:
Me:I think I may have been unclear with my request. I have no desire to modify the official rules or unspoken social norms of the group. I’m merely suggesting that a clarifying post would be helpful for other new members, to let them know the unwritten norms BEFORE accidentally triggering a flame war. I did not see any connection between your post and the bike seat. I only mentioned it as an example of helpful explanation, since I had previously asked who was responsible to contact whom.
I apologize for my defensiveness, on the bike seat thread. After reviewing it the other day I saw I definitely was too aggressive, and PM apologized to those involved. Nevertheless, I was jumped on hard and fast for an easily made mistake. I merely suggest that may not be the most welcoming way to be no drama mamas.
Admin 2: Look, it’s obvious to us that you are still not getting it. It is not our job to be constantly clarifying things for people who join the group, especially if they don’t ask for clarification. It’s your responsibility as an adult to know “the norms” of a group before you participate, especially considering you have been a member for over 3 months!! You are still telling us that we aren’t doing it right, we aren’t being welcoming enough, people attacked you, etc. when this is on nobody but you. Your defensiveness on the bike thread post is what lead to the flame war, not the other way around.
Sorry, Annie, but we don’t feel that you are a good fit for the group. You are not willing to admit when you are in the wrong, and continue to blame others for your actions. With over 2000 people in the group, we just don’t have time for this.
Me: Yeah, if the group is as good as it’s members and you’re the representatives, it’s not a group I want to be in.
(I don’t know if they got that last part because they both blocked me.)
So basically what they’re saying is a big, fat:
I feel like I’m back in junior high with a bunch of bullies that are cheerleaders picking on some freak. Only in junior high, there are principals to bust the bullies, and in adult world, I find myself still isolated, excommunicated, and alone. And really ashamed, stupid, and frustrated that I never learned how to adult OR how to just be a normal non-snarky human who doesn’t have to fight the urge to go all Philly on your ass all the time.
I’m the only one in my social group with a baby. In some ways, this is cool. Clara gets all the love and doting attention. But in other ways, it’s lonely. I never got to have the freedom and fun that I watch my friends have, I never have a chance or a reason to get pretty, and there’s a certain truth to the idea that “unless you’re a mom, you just don’t understand.”
And it’s true. When you become a mother, there are things you experience that are just beyond words, and there’s a feeling of camaraderie that I’ve experienced when I meet other moms, even if they’re strangers. Other moms are the only ones who understand that your heart breaks every time your little one cries, how your world would end of they were taken from it, how you could do everything in a given day perfectly but still be up all night kicking yourself and worrying. Other moms are the only ones who understand how you can simultaneously be so frustrated and so in love.
And now I’ve had two experiences within a month of moms shattering this magical mom connection, which leaves me afraid to even try to connect with other mothers, afraid to be myself, afraid to even go out in public with the baby for fear that someone won’t approve and they’ll call the cops again.
So here I am, the snarky mama kicked out of the stroller brigade. I don’t know why this is a surprise to me. Or why at 25, I still find myself excluded by the bitchy cheerleaders.