For a while now I have been trying to nail down why this playground stay at home mother bothers me so much.
She is in all respects a great person and I genuinely like her.
She is funny, she is kind, generous and a great confidante but ever so often she will spout gems like:
“I don’t get why women go back to work when they don’t have to, I mean they’re missing out on their kid’s lives!”
Oh, and she is a Know-It-All Competitive Chatty Mother.
You know the type.
Her son has to be as tall or taller than yours, eat better, sleep better, have more troubles than yours and yet she spews advice when not solicited….
She also has to be the center of attention all the time.
I have observed her cutting off other parents to interject about HER son and HIS troubles or achievements or whatever.
Or in the middle of another parent talking, she’ll just blurt out whatever she thinks … about her son of course, without any relevance or bearing on what everyone else has talking about.
No one can get a word in edgewise, and it is like she cannot stand to NOT be the center of the conversation or at least leading it.
Other parents are too polite to say anything but I can see that they’re completely taken aback when she does it. In fact, I can see it on her face some times when she wonders why the other parents aren’t as friendly towards her as they are to me.
They ask me all the time: Are you coming to _____? See you there! but they won’t say that to her unless she brings it up. They’ll also actively come over, sit with me and engage in conversation while our kids play, but they’ll pretty much ignore her.
She doesn’t listen at all to other parents or seem to care, and just natters on. It bothers me less because I’m super Chatty too (but cognizant of being too excited about something and then cutting people off and being super rude), so I can’t be the pot calling the kettle black.
Then it hit me the other day:
It is mostly because she says and stands for all the clichés that I myself fight very hard against and hate to propagate.
AND I STILL LIKE HER.
I have a thing about clichés about women, and she pretty much is the role model for all of them, yet that is just who she is so I can’t fault her for that…. really. It’s what she believes.
CLICHÉ #1: Women are MEANT to raise children, not men
All this nonsense about women being nurturing and natural caregivers gets my goat.
It is learned in the heart of the fire, I was thrown in the deep end and I have made an effort to learn childcare. It is not something I picked up idly or was ingrained in my genes the day it was determined I would be a girl.
I had no choice but to do it with Baby Bun, so I did.
I hate childcare as much as a man does.
I have even less patience than most men I’m sure and it is only by sheer zen strength and how much sleep I’ve gotten that I can pull myself together to not go off the deep end. I am being told by my partner that sometimes I need to tone it down because I am ALWAYS YELLING AT HIM… but that’s his perception because I see that HE DOES THE SAME THING TOO and he only has Baby Bun for a few hours a day at night, not 24/7!
CLICHÉ #2: Women don’t want to work / Cannot work to make as much money as men
To clarify, I want to work but not for less than what I’m worth, and this is how much I have worked my entire career & how much I have made.
It just sets a bad precedent.
Basically, I make as much as my partner does when I work which is fortunate.
When I don’t work, I still pay my bills because he and I both know that I can pick up a 6-figure job at any time but I choose NOT TO be a slave to bureaucracy and idiot managers any more.
When my partner doesn’t work, he also pays his half.
It is a 2-way street because it works for us, to be 50/50 split in expenses.
I don’t like hearing from her that women don’t want to work (NOT TRUE), and that if you want to put your family first, you as a woman, and mother, have to sacrifice your career to be the best person possible for your son.
I love my family and my son as much as any mother out there with her children, and wanting to work, and enjoying it, has NOTHING TO DO WITH LOVE.
Where are the men in all of this? Why is the hammer not coming down on them on staying at home to be with their children to give them the best possible life? Hate this double standard.
Also, I hate being told what to do. 😉 I don’t know if you’ve caught that…. my son has picked that trait up from me, being obstinate.
CLICHÉ #3: Men should go to work because that’s what men do
Her husband doesn’t need the money (millionaire, suspect it is not from his business as she claims but from the parents), yet he spends 5 of the 7 days away traveling for business yet she says that he is upset and constantly wants to be with them. Really?
I have talked it over and my partner and I just don’t get it.
If you want to be at home, and you don’t need to work, you stay at home.
Otherwise, it’s just talk.
It’s pretty simple.
I suspect it is similar to what other colleagues have confessed to me under duress at our lunchtime chats — that it is EASIER to be away from a toddler monster than with them.
You can deal with them easier when you’re home because you’re only home for 2 days.
Staying in a hotel alone, sleeping full 8-9 hours a night is right now the ultimate fantasy I harbour as a parent right now.
I would love to be a man and pretend I don’t have innate child caring abilities to develop out of necessity.
CLICHÉ #4: She says she’s financially independent when she really isn’t, she is 100% dependent on her husband
The one thing that irks me about this is that as she is a Competitive Mother, when I mentioned ONCE when we bought the place, how proud I am to have been able to save enough to pay for my half of the place in cash (we talk about money guardedly), she says:
“Oh that’s no big deal.
He bought our place (double the price of ours), in cash too.”
Or this gem:
“$300,000 is not a lot of money to have saved to hand over in a cheque, I’ve seen way more than that…”
I thought at the time: way to knock down someone else….
….but upon reflection I think it also stems out of insecurity in that she also doesn’t own the place they live in. He owns it 100% and gives her a credit card to use on whatever she wants to buy, which is very much the definition of being financially DEPENDENT.
It is stressful, being so dependent. You feel like you need to be perfect. I can understand where she is coming from when I think of it that way.
Anyway, she has zero rights to whatever they own and constantly talks about it, which underlines the insecurity she feels about her situation. It’s sad if you think about it.
Feels a bit Big Brother to me and kind of unstable, yet she talks about how strong and solid they are, how perfect they are for each other, bla bla bla.
She also talks a lot about when she worked and how independent she was… but that’s all in the past. She isn’t that now, and it seems to bother her subconsciously yet she pretends it doesn’t. I just listen. I’m part therapist 😉
They have an arrangement which I call the Sugar Daddy arrangement except he is not that much older.
He pays for everything and is apparently happy to do so and she is happy to be “taken care of by a man”, yet it seems to be fraught with issues she has to validate each time to me every time she mentions money.
She keeps saying: “We have an arrangement, we both agreed on it, and I am fine with it”, but the way she says it, makes me believe it is anything but fine and she is anything but OK with it but can’t seem to figure out why.
She keeps saying it SO OFTEN (every other conversation we have) that it has taken on an aura of her probably feeling like a paid escort of some kind, with the kinds of jokes she makes about the situation (along the line of sex work). She said it, not me.
I also think she feels like she has to be a Super Mom to live up to all this.
She is the epitome of a Pinterest, Stepford Mother where her child has the perfect outfit ALL THE TIME (not like mine), she always has to have her own perfect outfit on to match his too (not like me either, but I dress up like she does), and she bakes & cooks like a maniac all the time (NOT ME EITHER).
Maybe I’m reading too much into it.
But the truth is, I’m also a bit jealous at not having to think about spending anything, and then I rethink it over, and I’m not.
She actually thinks a lot about her spending because it is not her money and he sees the bill. She says he trusts her, and that trust, makes her very scared to actually spend money even when needed.
There is good and bad in every arrangement and this one seems more emotionally unstable & insecure than the situation I have, no matter what she says.
Talk is cheap.
Earning & saving & investing my own money has given me a kind of security and financial confidence that no one can ever take away and I am damn proud of it.
Given her situation and mine, I ultimately choose mine.
At least I’m free to do as I please without anyone looking over my shoulder or monitoring me, no matter how innocent.
She has been a great emotional and mental support in terms of talking about children in general and the hassles of raising a toddler alone (so to speak), but now, at least that I have nailed down why she bothers me sometimes, I am better able to deal and cope with it.
I just have to remember that she is probably insecure, and I have to approach it with empathy and sympathy for the fact that she is most likely overcompensating for her lack of contribution to the finances, and therefore feels the need to pretend & bluff her way through life.
It’s her cross to bear and I can understand that.