Monday, July 24, 2017

How to Avoid Mommy Drama, Gossip, and other Assorted Bullshit


I managed to slip through my twenties in a na├»ve haze of beach living, bar-hopping and work. The happy hour menu, job and boys changed with the season, but my friendships…they always remained consistent.  I was lucky enough to fall into an amazing circle of girlfriends.  They are some of my best friends to this day and their love and support have set the bar for friendship really, really high.

Most of us lived in PB, and when we got real jobs, we migrated North to La Jolla. When we got married and had kids, we spread out all over San Diego County. We are in Mission Hills and Point Loma, Encinitas and Del Mar.  Solana Beach and Carlsbad. I was the only one who moved to Coronado. Once again, I hit the jackpot. Once again, I am surrounded by loving and amazing friends.

Living in Coronado is sort of like a fairy tale. It’s like living in the Deep South, but more ocean and less snakes.  Everyone knows who you are. I can’t go to school drop off, the coffee cart, or Boney’s without seeing at least five people I stop to chat with. (This is why I wear makeup every day because ARE YOU STARING AT MY UNDER EYE CIRCLES?) I bump into my daughter’s swim teacher at the Yacht Club. The dance teacher at Nado Gelato.  My OB/GYN at Il Fornaio.  Need to switch up that birth control? Perfect place to ask.  It’s very Norman Rockwell. It’s very warm and fuzzy. Where else do people get excited to hang out at the annual Flower Show?

It’s also a curse.

If you are going through a challenging time, a dozen people will offer to help. But if you roll into the yacht club super-buzzed and dance wildly with the senior citizens…yup, everyone saw that too.  If your husband posts something questionable on Facebook, it MAY be brought up at a lady’s club meeting. If you are a newcomer and you try to patch up a friendship between two old friends…watch out, you might get kicked out of church group! Piss off the wrong person? You’re not getting into the Yacht Club. Looking pretty at the wrong place at the wrong time? Someone might accuse you of cheating on your husband. Seriously. You can't make this shit up.

But by far the BIGGEST problem I have with this town is lady gossip. In particular, moms. I am always shocked when I’m hanging out with a group of women and a conversation turns sour and someone says something negative about someone else.  Why does this happen?

I’ve witnessed many friendships unravel. Some, perhaps beyond repair. Most of the time I am unable to take sides because I genuinely like both parties. Usually someone is at fault but lets face it…good people make mistakes.  And are we really keeping score?

I’m not perfect. I’m not immune to trash talking, but it doesn’t happen often…I really, really try to reserve those fucks for when they are warranted. I feel like my life is better because of it. Conversations with friends are happier and deeper. People tell me secrets because I keep them. My friends trust me—since I don’t talk shit about anyone else, they know I won’t talk shit about them. Luckily, my husband feels the same way and we do our best to try to follow an anti-gossip regime in our household. It’s served us well.

I read somewhere that “what other people think about you is none of your business.”  It’s true. And I think if you stop caring what others think of you, you also start to care less about the shit they do. Shit that isn’t any of your business in the first place.

This is a pretty preachy post so feel free to unlike it and tell me how bad it fucking sucks. But this has been weighing on me for a really long time, and I don’t like to pay for therapy.

Top Tips to Avoid Mommy Drama, Gossip, and other Bullshit

1. Don’t gossip. This should be easy, but it’s actually really hard in a small town. Do your best to not say anything bad about anyone, ever. Don’t stir the pot. Gossip benefits NO ONE…EVER!
2. Don’t get in the middle. If two parties are fighting, it’s not your job to take sides, defend the friend you are closer to or try to patch things up (although I have been tempted.) We are big girls. We have pushed babies out of our vaginas or had them cut out of us. We have pledged our lives to our husbands and have dedicated everything we have to our families. Some of us have had to watch our marriages dissolve. Some of us are widows. Some of us are the breadwinners in the family and work 60 hours a week. WE ARE BIG GIRLS. We clean up our own messes. (In other words…don’t get in the middle. Be fucking Switzerland.)
3. Be kind. Always. 
4. See the good in people. Everyone, and I mean everyone has something to offer. Everyone has a unique talent. There are a few people that I genuinely don’t like being around, but I can still see the good in them, and I am sure they are amazing in their own ways.  (Just don’t ask me to lunch. I will admire you from afar.)
5. Make up your own mind about people. Don’t pay too much attention to anyone’s reputation. (True…where there’s smoke, there is usually fire. But it feels amazing to be surprised!)
6. Remove yourself from toxic situations. If you find yourself in a social situation where someone starts shit-talking, get out of the situation. Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom. Go get a drink. Change the subject. Never stand idly by and let the gossip grow. Then you are an accomplice!
7. Have faith in your friends. If you’ve chosen your friends wisely…have faith in them. They may go off in their own circles and join clubs you don’t like or see people you don’t enjoy. That doesn’t mean they don’t love you and support you. They are living their life to the best they know how, and know that they will always defend you should push come to shove.
8. Be forgiving. People will make mistakes. It doesn’t mean they’re bad people. It can be hard to forgive but even harder to let anger fester.
9. Be careful with clubs. I have really good friends who are super active in ladies clubs and thrive in that environment, but I found it wasn’t for me. I wasn’t any good in a sorority either. The only club I really thrived in was Stroller Strides, because we were all too busy sweating with our damn babies in our damn Bob Strollers, trying to not be fat and keep up, and giving each other advice on increasing breast milk supply and sleep training to give a shit about anything else. Peace out, Stroller Strides
10. Try to keep your shit together.  If you decide to go rogue and do some super-questionable shit, please keep it on the down-low and off the local radar.
11. Don’t judge. We all have our own shit to deal with. This includes judging yourself if you find yourself saying something unkind. Were you a bitch today? Be nicer tomorrow.

And finally, take the advice of my good friend. One day we were sitting by the pool with our then 3-year-old girls and were talking about something. She said, “You know, it takes a lot for me to get mad at people. If you try to fuck my husband or hurt my kid, then we have a problem. But if you don’t do that, I’m pretty much okay with you.”

Amen to that!