I love going to the playground with my son Mason. Sitting in the sunshine and watching him climb and run around with his friends while chatting with my mum friends is one of my favourite ways to spend an afternoon — unless I run into one of these mums.
1. The Perfect Mum. I knew a mum like this in my old ‘hood. She was at the playground every day (twice a day, natch!), with a bag full of homemade organic snacks, not to mention the mum with the coolest, most expensive toys for her one-year-old and the mum who always looked rested (even though she swore her kid never slept). She was that mum who was always happy to dish out unsolicited advice about all the things the rest of us were doing wrong — especially when it came to feeding our kids! — in the most sugary, syrupy sweet way. And although I knew there wasn’t a malicious bone in her body (I don’t even think she realised how she sounded), I felt like The Inadequate Mother every time I ran into her.
2. The Mean Mum. Before we moved to Brooklyn, there was a mum in our building who always compared my son to her daughter — and delivered little jabs at every opportunity. One time I ran into her in the laundry room as I was shoving vomit-covered clothes into a washing machine and trying to soothe my sick 14 month old. This mum had noticed that Mason wasn’t walking yet, even though her 11-month-old daughter was — and decided that this was the perfect time to tell me that my son was “probably” fine, even though he was “clearly” behind. Intellectually I knew that every child developed at a different rate, and that Mason was fine according to his pediatrician. But I still felt like she had just given me a huge kick in the gut.
3. The Backstabbing Mum. I’ve been around mums who I suspect are backstabbers (based on how they talk about every other mum we know), but I’ve never caught them backstabbing me…yet. You know who I’m talking about: She’s the mum version of the classic frenemy. She’s your best friend/biggest supporter when you’re around but as soon as you’re out of sight (or earshot) you suspect she’s picking your parenting prowess (and everything else about you) apart. Trust your gut — and stay away.
4. The Insensitive Mum. A friend with a chronic illness confided in another friend that she felt guilty for taking medication during her pregnancy. The other mum replied, “Oh I never could have done that. I couldn’t have lived with myself if something had been wrong with my baby.” The truth is, my friend didn’t want to take medication — but it was a life and death issue, so she had to. So how could that other mum judge her like that?
5. The Toxic Mum. Occasional griping is perfectly normal and perfectly acceptable — but this mum is always complaining about her kid, her marriage, her job, whatever. I knew a mum like this and being around her always make me feel stressed, depressed, negative — just bummed out, even when I was happy before running into her. For my own good, I had to stay away.
6. The Judgmental Mum. Her way is the only way. Period. Hot button topics that she loves to debate include breastfeeding, sleep habits, and developmental milestones. This mum is fine if I’m up for a debate, but if I just want to chill at the playground and enjoy the beautiful weather and how gleeful my son is on the swing? No way.
7. The Worst-Case-Scenario Mum. What if her three-month-old doesn’t get into the right kindergarten? What if her kid tries finger foods and chokes? What if the stranger in the park is actually a kidnapper? Listen, I have enough worries to think about without taking on another mom’s constant worries, especially when that mom’s worries are all “what if” based and unlikely to ever come true.