I Was Part of a Mom Clique. Why I Won’t Be Again.


A group of four women laughing.It was supposed to be a fun afternoon at a baby sprinkle I was hosting with some of my closest mom friends. The car was packed with decorations I’d spent weeks making, my husband was watching our two-year-old, and I was wearing a new dress that miraculously hid my ten-weeks’-pregnant bloat. So I grabbed my plate of appetizers, kissed my family goodbye, and ran to the car.

But instead of spending the drive cranking the radio and belting out songs like usual, I sat in silence. My hands were glued to the wheel as sweat stained my new dress and my stomach turned in knots.

I had never been part of a clique before, having always based my friendships on the individual rather than their association with any group. But after having my daughter and joining an exercise class, I’d met a bunch of women with babies the same age, and we’d quickly become friends. Sure, we’d all come from different careers and backgrounds, but now we were new moms, bonded together in the language of dream-feeds and sleep schedules.

For almost two years, I felt so fortunate to have them. But as our babies grew older, the group started to change.

Toddlerhood was less fun to talk about. Many of the women started caring more about their clothing, home décor, and social media accounts. None of which were interests I shared.

And so the tension was thick when I arrived to set up for the sprinkle.

“Oh, look, you dressed up. How cute,” said the mom who had volunteered her house for the party. “I never dress up anymore. Who has the time?” She pushed her long blonde hair back off her crisp white t-shirt, a loose crop-top that skimmed the waistband of her expensive jeans.

I smiled back. “Here are the appetizers!” I said.

“Oh. Did you forget?” she said. “Everything is supposed to be on white plates.”

I looked down at my tray. It was white except for a few small flowers. It was the closest thing to white I had.

Before I could speak, the mother pointed toward the kitchen. “Here,” she said. “Use one of mine.”

Nodding, I re-plated my appetizers as more women arrived to set up. Each wore a similar jeans and tee combo. And each proceeded to veto half my decorations, deciding they were too bright and loud for their vision. Because unbeknownst to me, the afternoon was not about having fun with close friends but about staging pictures for Instagram. I bowed my head as I brought the discarded decorations to the car and dreamed of going home. Seven years later, I still wish I had.

But it was hard to walk away from a group that had been my lifeline. At a time when my husband was working 15-hour days, they’d been my village, my support team. The thought of losing that terrified me.

So I returned to the party. And for months, I tried to save the friendships. Like an elastic band, I stretched myself to dress and decorate and talk like them. But it didn’t come naturally, and I didn’t feel good doing it. When some women started posting photos of playdates I’d been excluded from online, I finally snapped back and stopped trying to fit in.

The worst part was watching the effect this had on my two-year-old, who went from having a vibrant schedule of playdates to spending long afternoons with Mom. I looked into joining new classes, but we were in the process of moving towns, so it didn’t make sense. Instead, I shuttled her to playgrounds and the library, all while wasting way too much time worrying about what I had done to cause this. Had I said too much? Too little? Had my exhaustion driven me to miss too many moms’ nights? To not volunteer help when I could’ve?

The worrying didn’t stop until the birth of my son, which happened five days after we’d moved towns. There is nothing like caring for a newborn to put things in perspective. Overnight my fears faded as I immersed myself in building our new life as a family of four.

And much to my surprise, the new life that unfolded was more beautiful and rewarding than I ever imagined. Soon after moving, I learned other women had been cast out of the same group. I reconnected with them, finding joy in again talking freely without fear of conforming. I also joined a new workout class, making friends with many women I still cherish today.

As time passed, I even forgave the women who had harmed me as I realized their behavior had less to do about me and more to do with their own desires to remain in the group. This acceptance led me to promise myself never to join a clique again.

Today, I do not have one single “group” of friends but rather a rich tapestry of women I cherish from all walks of life. My children have friends from 9 out of 11 local elementary schools. And I’m teaching them to choose friends based on who makes them feel safe, who makes them laugh, and who they can trust with important thoughts.

I want them to know their friendships don’t have to – and indeed shouldn’t – all overlap with their best friends’ because we are all different, with unique interests and perspectives. I tell them this is something to celebrate, not to throw away in an attempt to fit in. And if they find themselves doing that. I want them to know it’s okay to end a friendship. Sometimes it is time to move on.

I now see my time in a mom clique as an important reminder of these lessons – to be inclusive, kind, forgiving, and well, just myself. Because while having mom friends is important, having the right ones means so much more.


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