Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Jane's observations: The inherent competition of the Socialized mother

India has the caste system. Mommy's, on the other hand, have a caste system all their own.

In my observation of mothers over the past year or so, I've come to find that not only is it important to identify yourself as a certain type of mommy, it's also important to associate yourself with that same type. Associating with any other type would be devastating ones social status.

Just as it would be unthinkable for a Brahmin to associate with an untouchable in India, crossing the Mommy social status line is nearly unthinking -- not necessarily to others, but to one's self. It is important to know that you are correct in all your practices as a mother. As such, associating with another type of mommy could challenge your own beliefs and practices, therefore challenging your ability to mother at all.

Take, for instance, the uber-mom. She is predestined to be a soccer mom, just as soon as her little one is old enough to kick that ball and be allowed onto a team. She relishes her role as the all-doer of the household, wearing the fact that she can multi task like no other as a badge of honor. This class of mom is generally steeped in the traditions of mother/father roles and loves the fact that it is her duty and honor to bring up her children. This mom is generally also the first to insert her opinions on parenthood into any situation, is generally a conformist, and is most always the picture perfect conservative. And although this sort of mom will secretly shun any mom out of the "norm", she'll always great everyone with a great big smile (and possibly homemade cookies).

Then there's the polar opposite of the uber-mom...the slacker mom. This mom is generally disaffected, and Wikipedia defines slacker as "characterized by a static, unenthusiastic air manifesting in an apparent lack of effort". It's not to say that she lacks as a mother -- rather she slacks off from the stereotypical mothering role. This specific mom can generally either be spotted by her alternative dress style, general opposition to anything relative to the "norm", or just a flat out disinterest in anything typical. This is mom that will in all likelihood become one to oppose matters the PTA finds necessary. I should add that being a slacker mom does not qualify one as a bad mother; it's more that it qualifies one as a rogue. A very liberal outlook is generally shared among slacker moms. I would like to note that a slacker mom's liberality will differ from our next subject, the hippie mom.

The hippie mom is generally characterized by her global viewpoints, eco-consciousness, and an all out organic obsessiveness. This mom is full heartedly the first one to argue that it's nearly child abuse if you choose not to breastfeed, or that you're going to somehow harm your child if you feed them non-organic squash. These moms can generally be spotted a mile away, as their spawn are nearly always attached to them via sling. Upon closer inspection, these moms may be vegans, vegetarians, or may also be cross-classified (see cross-classification below) as slacker moms.

And last, but not least, we have the martyr moms. These are the moms who are always first and foremost on the home front of every feminist battle. They are always the first to throw themselves into the flames, if that means they can get a little sympathy. These moms do everything for the greater good of their children, and generally think it's a sin to steal any time away for them self. This mom generally has a disheveled appearance, as it would take time away from her family to dress in anything more than sweats and a ratty old PTA t-shirt. It is well noted that these moms are always the first to let everyone know how devoted they are to their children. These moms will also be the first ones to have a late-life meltdown when they experience empty-nest syndrome. This mom has essentially sacrificed her own identity and replaced with the title "mom".

Those are only basic sub-groups of moms, and of course there are always ones who are cross-classified, i.e. the slacker hippie mom or the uber-martyr mom. Although mom's may not strongly posses the characteristics of one category, they generally lean more heavily toward one than the other.

So what happens when these social classifications of mothers are thrown together and forced to socialize? Join a mommy group and find out. Mothering is a competitive sport these days, and opinions tend to clash. But who would have thought that something as simple as ear piercing could become a moral debate? Only in mommy-land.

Recently, it was brought to my attention that there was a rather heated discussion taking place on our mommy group message board. So far it's a 3 page thread; all about ear piercing. Of course there are differing view points, but since when did the topic of piercing your little girls' ears define what type of parent you are? There were those who say to wait until the girl can take care of the wounds themself...that makes sense. There were those who say earlier is better: get them done before the child can remember the paint. But then there were those who argued that having a little who girl who's ears are pierced makes her look like a miniature essence arguing that ear piercing is a sure ticket to street walking, essentially. Others merely argued about how unsanitary piercing guns are...and yet others that referred to ear piercing as "procedure to change one's body." Wow. I never knew having some holes in the ears could be so life changing...or lifestyle defining. This topic of discussion clearly showed the clear cut castes within our mommy group.

The only response I gave up for discussion was this: good gracious, folks. it's just ear piercing... And to me , it is. Does that make me a slacker mom? (Actually, I fall more in the hippie-slacker cross category).

But to my tiny uninvolved reply came this: I have to think if it were "only" ear piercing, the topic wouldn't elicit such a response. Ha! Is this the SAHM version of the ol' religion and politics? :)

Oh, dear -- save the smiley face emoticon, lady. I really do dislike the uber-martyrs.

Where else but the microcosm of mommy groups and mother to mother rivalry would you find the topic of ear piercing to be such a heated debate?


Kelly said...

OMG that is so funny!
I must be Sybol or something..
Kelly contains one or more of the following:

1). Miniscule amount of uber

2) A smidge of slacker

3) Gernerous handful of hippie

Rantings by a Middle Aged Drama Queen said...

Ok, there is no doubt that in our groups eyes I am indeed 100% slacker! And I love it! Also WTF? I just read the M.B. this morning (well when it went all wrong). Your fav. friend is back and insulting better then ever! :) This keeps up you will have LOTS to blog about.

sane elaine said...

I left town for 3 days & I miss all the drama! WTF were these ladies thinking.... both my girls have their ear's pierced and it really is 'only ear piercing' no matter how you look at it!

Some moms should come with WARNING labels!!

Kelly said...

that is utterly ridiculous..aren't there far more important things to think about and ponder, then if and when a parent agrees to get her daughters ears pierced? I just got Lily's done 2 1/2 weeks ago..does that make me a bad paren't..I think not! I mean really..who cares? Sheesh...

Missy said...

I am totally afraid of Mommy groups!

I kow parents get the pressure from evcen more than just mommy groups. It has to be so diofficult to be patient and civil at times.

Meanwhilie, my sister and I had our ears double pierced by the time we were 4. For some reason my Mom just wanted that. You'll be shocked to know that we both went on to graduate from college, take on grad school, own property independently (eg: without a husband), and be generally happy women who have yet to go to prison!

mr lady said...

Wonderful post!

the Girls' Moma said...

I love your descriptions of the different types of moms. I don't feel like I fall in any of the categories. If I had to I would be a cross between slacker and hippie, but I prefer to think of myself as more of a rockstar mom. I'm totally in my own category with that one!

As far as ear piercing, I have actually avoided this conversation because so many people ARE so weird about it. All I tell people is that I remember choosing to pierce my own ears when I was 6, and I want the girls to have that same memory. That's it! No big philosophical argument, just a personal idealism.

I found you through Blogherads -- I'll be back!

bliss said...

i'm a slacker-hippy and i'm proud of it. '-)

earrings? what about those damned sagging pants? LOL