Before Facebook, Myspace or php forums — there were America Online (AOL) Chat boards. I was a ‘member’ of the mommy boards, which were well known for being snarky. They were basically a group of mean girls in mommy bodies. I learned quickly how to stay ’in’ with the crowd without participating in the daily slaughter. For once in my life I felt like I had friends, that I thought liked me.
It was painful to watch. A mom would post a question. Her question would turn into a feeding frenzy. It was shocking and very sad to watch. Breastfeeding in public. Bottle Feeding. C-section. Feeding kids Cheerios. Usually they’d push the poor mom over the edge. She’d snap back with insults and the game was on! The snarkiest mom was crowned a hero and the poor mom was never heard from again. They fondly called it the ‘Shark Pit’.
I learned to stay away from the board. Instead I frequented a much ‘milder’ board. It was a parenting board started by a group of women who had planned their weddings together. These women were now having babies or at least trying to have babies. We talked about our marriages, our daily lives, our children and our dreams. We cried together when one would lose a baby. We rejoiced when a baby was born. We talked about having ‘reunions’. I considered them my friends.
I should have seen it coming…
When I found out I was expecting my third child I was completely surprised. My daughter was only a year old. The boy was mad he had a baby sister and insisted that he needed a baby brother. When he found out he was having ANOTHER baby sister, he let us know he was not happy. I relayed the entire conversation, because I found it rather cute. Ya. They didn’t. And suddenly, without warning, I was the object of a snark-fest.
Every single struggle or worry I’d ever shared was thrown back at me. A few words have never left my memory.
Your son fell out the window? I think you pushed him out the window.
You’re pregnant? Your husband sleeps with you? *Shudder*
Your children would be better off dead than to have you for a mother.
Their words pushed me over the edge. I ended up in a hysterical heap on the floor. I managed to call a local friend to take my kids. I could not quit crying. I could barely breathe. She arrived and I let her read the words. She tried to come to my defense by telling them how their words were devastating me. She just gave them more ammo to throw at my wounded heart.
When the husband came home, he was angry. Not at them. At me. Because I let people I didn’t ‘know’ get to me. I cried myself to sleep thinking I’d not only lost my friends but I’d lost my husband.
That day has never left me. I still have fears that if I say the wrong thing the friends I have made will turn on me, slashing my heart again. Yes, I’m stronger now, but it would still hurt.
I would LOVE to tell you that this happened when I was a teenager. It happened 12 years ago. I was 28. Most of them were OLDER than I was.
We are asking ourselves WHY we have a problem with bullying, especially cyber-bullying. I think we need to look in the mirror. These were adult women, some mothers, who had NO PROBLEM with bullying me to the point that I would consider ending my life. They found it cool. If I couldn’t deal with it, I needed “to quit wasting space on this planet.”
We want to know why our children are acting this way. It’s simple, really. It’s because we teach them to be this way. Mommy Wars. Politics. Gossip. Why do we expect our children to behave better than we do?
If we want our children to stop bullying their peers, we need to stop bullying our peers. We need to put our ridiculous divisive ideologies aside and treat our fellow human being with dignity and respect.
The next time you think about showing the world just how big of a strong powerful woman you can be, I hope your remember that your words have consequences. The consequences may be deadly.
Please choose your words wisely.
Thank you to Trish at Hip Homeschool Moms for permission to use this graphic from her recent Mommy Wars post.