When I was a new mom, I found out pretty quickly that there were two things about the experience that I really disliked; other children and their parents. Of course, that all changed as I started to make more and more friends, and realized that the problem wasn’t moms, it was assholes, and just made a point not to make friends with assholes.
Still, even if you aren’t friends with assholes, they will still come and find you, wherever you are. The fact is, you can be the nicest person in the world, but someone will always manage to rub you the wrong way. Of course it’s important to pick your battles, or else you’ll end up a lonely husk of rage, but there are times you don’t want to be spineless either. At some point or another, most people will end up fighting with other moms about the following:
1. Who gets to discipline whose child. I am that annoying woman who walks around at birthday parties, giving people permission to yell at my kid if they need to. I want them to know I don’t feel weird about it. Some people do feel weird about it, and they will tear your fucking throat out if you tell their kid to knock something off.
I once told an older kid to stop pushing toddlers off of the monkey bars when they started to climb up. The mom flipped out on me, all “WHAT DID YOU SAY??” That experience hasn’t soured me, though. I love saying “no” and if your kid’s a dick I will tell them “no”, too.
2. Snacks. Oh my god, snacks. This is a minefield. A delicious, delicious minefield. Listen to me: You are being judged on the snacks you serve your child at the playground. It is either too sugary or too crunchy-granola. Hide it in your purse and let your kid dip their head in there every once in a while instead. Do not ever give other people’s kids snacks unless you are hoping to get into fisticuffs.
3. What counts as age-appropriate. I never knew this was even an issue until I had a playdate at my house when my daughter was four. She was obsessed with SpongeBob SquarePants and was watching the show when the other kid came in. I promptly turned it off, but halfway through the playdate the mother said she “couldn’t just keep my mouth shut anymore!” and actually started to cry because she felt so bad that my daughter was being subjected to SpongeBob.
4. Stroller real estate. Stroller parking, stroller rolling, being in the direct path of someone’s massive Escalade-type stroller. You might be surprised how pissed people get if you are in the way of their stroller, take their parking “spot” or don’t move all of your shit out of the 5-foot horizontal corridor of space they need to maneuver through the library/Starbucks/playground.
5. Sharing. Most parents want their kid to learn how to share. And then your kid meets the kid whose parents hate sharing, and you’re fucked. They’ll be in the sandbox together and you’ll tell your child to share the red bucket and then the dad will say to you, “how would you like it if you had to give all of your things to someone else??” And then suddenly it’s a fight about Obamacare.
6. Something related to school or preschool. If you think playground annoyances end when your kid gets to school or preschool you are wrong. So very, sadly wrong. Welcome to the world of fights about attendance, who is gifted and talented and who should be responsible for volunteering at the berjillion parties your kid’s class will have. Hint: It’s you.
7. Multi-level marketing gigs (Think Pampered Chef and Mary Kay). Obviously.
8. What kind of a job you’re doing (spoiler: not a good one). Back in the day, I would get into fights with older moms about this very thing. There was always something I was doing that wasn’t quite right, probably because I was an idiot, unlike them. You would think that a group of women who face criticism based on their age would not turn around and criticize people based on their age. You are wrong.
9. Carseats. Car seats were not the bastion of bicker-fuel they were when I was a new mom. Now, you will get in fights about everything from head supports to proper Y-strap formation and it will make you wonder if you need a hobby, and also if that hobby should be carseats.
10. “I could NEVER [insert thing you’re doing here]” I could NEVER send my kid to daycare. I could NEVER give my child Lunchables. I would NEVER put SpongeBob on T.V. Honestly, who cares what you would never do? Gratz on never doing it. But why do you care what other people do? Short of hauling off and backhanding a toddler for spilling their own juice, it’s none of your business.