Yesterday, a dear friend who lives in Boston sent me a link to this Boston Magazine article with the note, "Say it ain't so!" After some serious contemplation, I'm here to say that indeed, it is not so.
The article, titled The Terrifyingly Nasty, Backstabbing, and Altogether Miserable World of the Suburban Mom, describes a world of cliquey suburban moms who are manipulated by Queen Bees with potent stings into behavior that would impress only the most vindictive and petty of middle school girls. Written by Julie Suratt, the article is a fun read, especially if you're like me and you love all forms of cultural commentary. But the problem is, broadly speaking, it's so flipping untrue.
Actually, strike that. I'm sure that the stories Suratt writes about are true. I have no trouble believing that there are groups of grown woman who form cliques meant for no other purpose than to flaunt their social might. And yes, there are an amazing number of women in the Boston suburb where I live who drive Range Rovers, have insanely fit post-baby bodies, and perfectly highlighted hair worthy of a Pantene commercial (btw- it's always the hair that gets me. How do some women manage such amazing hair?). I also agree with Suratt's point that having a baby rocks your social world in ways you could never imagine. Not only can you no longer socialize the way you used to due to necessities like finding a babysitter as well as a purse large enough to fit your breast pump, or at least a shirt that won't betray your leaking nipples, but you can't even think the way you used to. So yes, new moms latch onto other new moms for dear life. I certainly did. That some of the women I latched onto are still my close friends is something that I'm extremely grateful for.
Where Suratt loses me is her theory that these Queen Bees rule the burbs. (In the third to last sentence of the feature length article Surrat does note that the majority of women she knows are not as evil as the ones she writes about.) But the title alone! I get the way these things work - the higher the drama, the higher the clicks and Facebook posts. Suratt herself may not have had any control over the title. But come on!
As far as I can tell, the life of the suburban mom is pretty darn similar to life of city mom. Trust me, I've been both. We moved to the suburbs when my middle daughter was two and it was a decision that I agonized over. Endlessly. I was completely torn, but for me it came down to the fact that I needed life to be easier. I needed a place to park my car that was not two blocks from my apartment, a bedroom for my daughter that was not right off the kitchen, and an escape from the dude who chain smoked cigarettes every night outside our nursery window. And raising kids in the suburbs, at least for me, has been easier. But it also turns out that no matter where you live, raising little kids is hard. It's not easy to be responsible for every aspect of these little people's lives and it's also not easy to have to redefine your own life once you become a mother. It's sad that some women use their social might to regain some sense of control and power in their lives, but I do think they're the exception, not the rule.
Most of us suburban moms, just like city moms, are trying to get through the day in the best way we can. We get our kids where they need to go, we worry about how they're doing when they're there, we exercise because our bodies are still reeling from all the baby making, and we volunteer more time than any group of people I've ever met. Seriously, it's insane the amount of time some suburban moms donate. Oh, and we text each other all day long because it keeps us sane and it's often the only form of communication that is conducive to life with little kids. At least that's what I see outside my suburban window.