Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Say Flu, Get Flu (Plus A Whole Lot of Mommyblogging)

I got cocky in my last post. Saying I hadn't been sick since August. Naturally, that meant the very next day my hubby stumbled home from work with a fever of 103.


Knock on wood, the flu shot seems to have protected the kiddo and I. Same as last year, I had a weaker version of the bug. Back then, I got 1/2 the flu, this time I would say it was at an 1/8th.
However, I think next year my hubby will be required to get a flu shot. Even flu at 1/8th power is still enough to mess with my lungs and make me miserable.

I've been treating it as his decision, like it doesn't affect anyone else and that's not true. So it's the flu shot or bust next year.

I will say my hubby is the one person on the planet who I don't think the flu can hurt.Being sick as a dog doesn't stop him. He could barely bend over due to all the muscle aches, but went outside anyways to see if toothpaste would clean the grime of his car's headlights like he'd heard (he was thrilled to find that it works very well, fyi, I was subjected to an entire 'man monologue' about it). Then he did laundry. Ordered and picked up takeout. Day three, he went for a walk, even though he had to hold the small of his back like a pregnant woman.

He just doesn't stop! It's kind of amazing to watch, actually.

Okay so now for some mommyblogging. Do you remember the mean mommy episode from a while back? The saga continues, but I think I figured out something important...

I swear I'm going to write a memoir titled Mean Mommies one of these days. The nastiness I've witnessed from adult women is worse than anything I saw or experienced in High School. Although it does approach some of the severe bullying I experienced in 5th grade.

Let's go back in time for a moment...Picture a budding sociopath at the age of 10 controlling whether or not the entire class would return from recess. That was my bully. One day, she kept us outside for an extra half hour, much to the teacher's chagrin. Can you imagine such subversion of adult authority? The poor teacher was literally ignored by their entire class.

If you disobeyed her orders, she sent a lackey (yes, she had lackeys) after you to beat you up on the walk home from school. I was a frequent target, but being smart enough to walk (after school) next to someone's mom like we were together, the lackeys usually gave up on trying to beat me up. Although I did get between them and another victim once, refusing to let them hit the other kid. Like most assholes, the second I showed any serious resistance, they turned tail and ran away.

Once, she demanded one of her all-girl posse steal something from another student and put it in my locker, framing me for theft. Another time, they followed me home and sprayed water through the windows of the apartment I lived in.

No one was allowed to be friends with me, not even kindergartners. Kids were punished if they sat with me at lunch or spent time with me at recess.

Thanks to her, I developed persistent, stress related stomach pain that magically resolved when I changed schools for middle school. Quelle surprise, eh?

I've not seen someone with that chick's level of group control since, not even as an adult, and I've met some nasty people. I often wonder what happened to her. I can only imagine how scary awful she must be as an adult.

The other thing I've questioned a lot is, why did people follow her and how do they feel about that as adults? Knowing how people are, they've probably brushed it off as 'kids being kids' and turned a blind eye to just how vicious it all was. And I bet they've had life long tendencies to get mixed up with other bullies.

With that backdrop in mind, let's look at the mean mommies of my adulthood. The first one I did not see coming, she was competent/together enough to mask her psycho bitch tendencies. The second mean mommy was not a surprise. I spotted her a mile away. I was friendly with her, but I purposely kept things at a light acquaintance level. It was only a matter of time before she went nuclear bitch on me. I could just tell.

And she proved my instincts right, just recently. I'm in the process of cutting all contact.Our kids are in the same school, so I've left our social infrastructure in place, i.e. I haven't unfriended her on Facebook or anything drastic. Yet. As soon as the school year is over, she's gone. The only reason I wait is to try and preserve a facsimile of social niceties as I'm not really interested in any more drama.

I'll also be cutting off another mommy who hasn't actually done anything. She's a perfectly nice mommy....So why cut her off?

Well,here's the thing, I started asking myself, 'Why am I running into all these mean mommies? Where are they coming from?'  The first answer was they were all in the same mother's group I joined, but that didn't really tell me anything. I did find it odd, though that two women on the extreme end of nasty would be in the same group willingly. They didn't like each other, and it was a small group that didn't have enough room for them both to play power games.

It wasn't until I looked at who had brought these women into the group that I found a possible answer: The perfectly nice mommy. She was the fulcrum on which the mean mommy dynamic hinged. Her mother was quite toxic and abusive to her, and as a result she had/has low self esteem. Guess what pattern she seemed to be repeating in her adult friendships?

For the longest time, I couldn't figure out why she pursued close relationships with either of these women. The one mean mommy actively and openly made fun of the nice mommy and put her down. When she detonated her inner bitch all over me, the whole mother's group took a big step back and told her she was being a bully (an unprecedented confrontation, most of the time no one says anything). Yet nice mommy continued to stay close to her and value her 'friendship.'

That always puzzled me, and it caused me to distance myself from her because I really questioned her judgement. But having recently dealt with the second mean mommy losing her shit for no apparent reason--other than she needed someone to drop kick and it was my turn--I've come to the conclusion that nice mommy can only relate to these kind of women. This dynamic must be what feels normal to her.

I could be wrong, of course. I don't actually know anything for sure and I'm not a qualified anything to be saying any of this. It's all just speculative observation.

But I'm trusting my gut on this one and cutting them all off. The mean mommies aren't going to change, but I hope the nice mommy figures it out. She's had some wake-up calls on these friendships, I hope she can heed them and find real friends who aren't bullies.

In my personal friendships, those that developed out of common interests vs. joining a random group, I don't have this drama. I don't purposely align myself with mean mommies. It's not my bag and not my natural tendency. (I wish I had been more aware of what was going on with the mother's group and recognized it wasn't for me, but I didn't get a lot of sleep back then and I kept expecting people to just be nice. Why I expected that, I don't know. Clearly the sleep deprivation--plus asthma and steroids-- messed up my critical thinking skills.)

The issue I deal with in my friendships is everyone leaves. Either the country or the state. In fact, my two closest friends right now are likely to move--one this summer, the other is job hunting out-of-state. Once they go, our friendship will fade. I've been through this several times now and it's always the same. Sure, we say we'll stay in touch, we might even get together once or twice, but eventually, the distance confines our relationship to Facebook.

So I've recently found myself reaching out and trying to broaden my social network. It's not easy though, because I find I distrust other mothers now. I tend to think they're all mean even though that's not true. Sometimes I think I should look for authors to be best buds with, except I'm finding that most authors are narcissistic jerks. It's all very air-kissy ladies-who-lunch-and-backstab-for-dessert in that world. Finding the few authors capable of a genuine, reciprocal friendship who also write in your genre and actually sell books, too...well, it makes the mommy minefield look pretty good.

Not to drag this post out longer than it has to be, but I've met some women recently who might work out. Plus, my kiddo is switching schools next year. It turns out she has a high IQ and is reading at a 6th grade level*. So we've transferred her to a school specifically for gifted kids. Since parents of gifted kids tend to be pretty smart (my claim to fame is 300 level college classes at the age of 16--I tested out of all the lower levels) I'm hoping I'll meet some interesting people. Or it could be a nightmare.

There were some parents on the school tour who were obviously feeling superior because of their kid's intelligence. They wore polished business suits and smirks a mile wide.I wore faded old mom jeans and a coat with dog hair on it (people with pets should just give up on fleece anything fyi). You should've seen the way they looked down their noses at me, like I was defacing the school. It was kind of funny. I feel a little sorry for them because I don't think giftedness means what they think it does.

*It's hard to quantify the exact level. I just picked a random grade because my kiddo is a secret reader. Lots of smart kids do this as a survival mechanism**. My kiddo doesn't want to be different and resists reading including getting things wrong on purpose so she'll "look like the other kids." But, given that I recently caught her reading the word 'exploit' on her own, and spied her reading a jargon packed comic book word for word, I think 6th grade is a safe bet.

**I never hid my reading on purpose, but my mother was quite surprised to recently learn that I read through all her college textbooks when I was 10. I read her entire feminism course lol. I was also left alone a lot, so my parents are just lucky I didn't decide to start cooking meth because they would have never noticed. They knew I was reading though as I got into trouble at school for reading through all my classes. My teachers eventually resorted to confiscating any books in my backpack, which totally sucked.

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