Do You Clique?
by Julie Barnhill
Wave your hand and cringe if you recall the middle-school years of growing up. If you’re a bit more mature like me, you may refer to them as your junior-high years. But I’m willing to bet a well-loaded spit ball that more than a few of us have a certain number of, “You couldn’t pay me enough money to go back to that age,” memories that were (and perhaps still are) uncomfortable to recall such as:
- Handing a note to Evelyn, the school secretary, only to hear her read your mother’s note verbatim: “Please excuse Julie’s absence from school yesterday; she was home with the trots.”
- Getting your first period during third hour. (Does anyone else see the warped irony of that?)
- Being shunned by the “cool” table of girls in the cafeteria, during team sports and in the hallways; thereby coming to the startling realization that your life bears a startling resemblance to a 1980s angst-ridden John Hughes movie.
Of the three examples above, which one was the hardest to understand and figure out? Been there. Done that. Got a therapy bill to prove it, like me, right? Thank goodness we grow up and no longer have to deal with any of that clique garbage stuff later as adult women and moms.
Why the funny (as in NOT funny) look?
Being an adult mother doesn’t guarantee a reprieve from similar middle-school clique maladies with adult mothers. (I wish I could tell you differently, but I didn’t get the One Tough Mother moniker for being loose with the truth.) You’ve most likely experienced something similar in tone, nature or emotion when it comes to the ever-changing, ever-important aspects of finding healthy community in the season of motherhood. Instead of strolling down therapy lane let’s concentrate on building and creating healthy community with the women around us.
- First things first (do not move on to my next point until you act upon the first!): Seek out and stick with mothers who have children older than yours. The best thing you can do for yourself and your kids is to be in real relationship with a woman who can honestly tell you, “It’s OK! You’re going to get through this!” As well as someone with whom you can look at their offspring and say, “Hey, they turned out pretty normal!”
- Identify any of those freaky junior-high dynamics (snubbing, comparison, bragging) that may be raising their annoying little heads with mom relationships. Stop feeding and/or being controlled by them. You’re no longer in junior-high and you no longer have to be pressured or unduly influenced by others who haven’t quite figured that out.
- Explore the incredible community found online with one caveat. Don’t allow it to intrude negatively in your time with your spouse and children. The forum at MOMSnext and other social networking sites are superb launching pads for finding advice, camaraderie and a well-deserved laugh.
- Don’t forget the Connections possible in a church community as you worship and work together and grow in your faith. Earthly relationships coupled with God’s divine favor makes for magnificent mothering rocket fuel!
Julie Barnhill is One Tough Mother to three children and author of seven books, including the Every Mother Can series and One Tough Mother, available at MOPShop.org.