How a Little Word (Mom) Used Often Enough Can Torment


wordsIt used to be a word I associated with warmth, goodness, band-aids lovingly applied and cookies. There was a time when I looked forward to a little one using it to address me (hopefully) with tenderness. The responsibilities inherent in the word would provide a new and challenging dimension to my life and, no doubt, make me a more patient person. That was before infertility reared its ugly head.

Today the word taunts and excludes me. It’s a little word, but it packs a punch: MOM.

During the course of an hour yesterday the word was used no less than 50 times. Why on earth, you ask? It was a business presentation in our office on the power and reach of today’s growing and influential Mom’s Clubs. As the presenter made her case the word came at me with increasing force: mom, Mom, MOM!!

I could feel myself twitching as if getting an electric shock each time the presenter uttered it placing the emphasis on the MOM of Moms Clubs.  On the screen behind her were adorable images of children hugging their moms, moms looking concerned while tending to a child or moms laughing with other moms, exchanging knowing glances because they shared the trust and loyalty of their MOMs Club.

Talk about feeling ostracized, isolated and left on the outside looking in. By the end of the presentation she had me convinced that my life was utterly lacking in camaraderie, joy and togetherness. As a non-mom, I’ll never get the little jokes, the inside community scoop, the invitations to hang out in the MOMs Club and the benefit of having an ever-expanding community social calendar knit together with children’s playdates or cupcake recipe swapping. You see MOMs are more organized than ever today. There are nearly 5,000 MOMs Clubs in the U.S. with an average of 200 members all busy swapping ideas, creating events and networking with other moms usually under the leadership of their uber MOM, (a Momzilla perhaps?)

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When I was a child my mother hung out with neighborhood women while the neighborhood kids ran around the local park, scout troop or ice cream social with, let’s face it, no where near today’s parental supervision. My mother and those in her peer group were nothing like today’s MOMs who seem to take being a MOM to a new extreme.

And because of today’s MOMs’ newfound pride (I am MOM hear me roar, I belong to a MOMs CLUB!), those of us who could not biologically get there despite all sorts of superhuman efforts are left feeling unwelcome and dare I say it, unworthy, because we’re not MOMs.

From an infertile’s point of view this new Club mentality feels divisive. All things considered the 1950s had nothing on 2007. Adult social circles today are now forming around the ability to reproduce. No child. Sorry no admission to the Club.

P.S. Thank you, all, for the comments and insights around the “do you have kids?” question. Great discussion.


18 Responses

  1. Bea

    August 22, 2007 2:29 am

    Oh good grief. Moms’ Clubs. It’s enough like a “club” to many people as it is. On the other hand, the cynic in me says its all a cheap marketing ploy, and those members are just allowing themselves to be exploited. I’m sure that doesn’t sound like sour grapes.


  2. Kami

    August 22, 2007 5:22 am

    I think I am going to be sick. I can’t believe you survived the presentation.

    If I am ever so fortunate to get to mom status, I can’t imagine ever being part of such a group. I can’t even imagine fitting it with small groups of moms who did not go through hell to get there.

    I’m sorry you were forced to endure this.

  3. Ellen K

    August 22, 2007 2:04 pm

    I went to the website and learned that it’s only for stay-at-home moms. It doesn’t seem like a very inclusive group in the first place, nor one particularly dedicated to helping women develop identities outside of so-and-so’s mommy or giving them real “me” time. (Or learning to write without exclamation marks, for that matter.)

    Choking on my sour grapes..

    • Pamela Jeanne

      August 22, 2007 2:56 pm

      Editor’s Note: The exclamation point-laden logo I inserted was from one of the 5,000 clubs out there — each one has a website and runs a little differently. Most have a mix of work-out-of-the-house and stay-at-home moms. Just to eliminate confusion I pulled the logo. Suffice to say that all club members are MOMs. The business (not disclosed) that presented caters to all of them.

  4. Deathstar

    August 22, 2007 7:06 pm

    I’m grateful I’m an actress, most of my friends and associates in the arts area don’t live in the suburbs, and form Mom groups. Whew! Canadians forms those mommy groups formally.

  5. mchope

    August 23, 2007 4:13 am

    Motherhood seems to be the “new black” these days (if that make sense). I was listening to a radio program the other day and it was all about the degree to which a lot of todays’ moms seem obsessed with one-upsmanship and ubermothering. Magazines, books, tv shows, websites, Hollywood baby booms. The deafening message is it’s SO cool to be a mom these days and there are more pieces of advice and products to help you excel at this game than you can shake a boppy pillow at. Incidentally the members of the MOM club seem to also delight in looking down their noses at those who don’t do things the same way they do. Apparently guilt is a big accessory in mommyland. Should the day ever come that I receive the M-word title, I think I would steer very clear of the mommy machine. I like the way our moms did it…and I think we turned out pretty good.

  6. beagle

    August 23, 2007 2:54 pm

    The most vivid memory I have of the mom punch in the gut was when a long time friend, turned ueber fertile gal, then martyr mom, in a phone call to me in which I confessed a failed IVF cycle promptly launched into some advice she learned from one of her “Mommy friends” WTH is a mommy friend I wondered? Oh, her friends from mom’s club. I see. And how are they experts on failed IVF?? Whatever.

    Women have always been pretty good at dividing and pigeon-holing each other though, in general? Don’t you think?

  7. chicklet

    August 24, 2007 12:19 am

    No child, no admission – that’s how I often feel with the maternity and baby stores, like I’m not welcome. Sorry you had to hear it so many times, ugh.

  8. Geohde

    August 24, 2007 12:27 am

    I hate the judgement that comes with my non-maternal status. Whenever the subject comes up people ass-ume that my childless state is by some career driven choice. It makes me sick to A) be considered inferior because I have yet to procreate and B) have people think that I am some cold cow.

    I am so sorry that you had to sit through that discussion.

  9. Jenna

    August 24, 2007 1:00 am

    Good grief! I’m so sorry you had to endure that. It is truly grotesque how alienated the world of infertility is. I once watched from the window as my neighbor had a birthday party for her kid. I watched as neighbor after neighbor walked down the street bearing boxes and bags. DH came up to me and asked why I was tormenting myself. My answer? I wasn’t tormenting myself. Infertility had that job.

  10. lady macleod

    August 24, 2007 1:31 pm

    I think the motherhood role has been glamorized of late, I’m not sure why other than the Hollywood community has taken to bearing children ‘in photograph’. I think support groups for mothers is a good thing. If, like me, you had no training for the job, but you really have to form your own style and opinions. I can’t see myself in the MOM’s clubs, but I do think they serve a purpose.

    I can only imagine what that must have felt like for you to have to listen to a presentation about that for which you have longed but were denied. Please know that you are not ignored by all of the mothers out here my friend.

    • Pamela Jeanne

      August 24, 2007 2:55 pm

      Thanks, Lady Macleod. I agree that support groups are helpful (heck, I’m in a virtual support group here online), but to your point I think it’s the overdone, glamorized nature of MOMdom today that gets under my skin coupled with the emphasis on “club” vs. support group. It’s by far the clubby factor that made me uncomfortable.

  11. Kareno

    August 25, 2007 8:35 am

    Motherhood has been a status symbol since forever and it’s even more so in Africa. Many of the black cultures in our country specifically has the tradition that a baby should be born first before any talk of marriage is started – a woman has to prove herself fertile. (I’m trying my best not to choke while typing this) In these same cultures the more children a couple has the richer they are perceived to be. And even though it’s sickening beyond the point of nausea, it’s been with us for centuries, and it’s not going to change soon. I’m not saying we have to adapt or die, but we have to be the architects of a club with MUCH more clout and appeal, and that’s not going to be easy – but who said we’re scared 😉

  12. Babyblues

    August 28, 2007 8:31 am

    I hate the feeling of being left out and excluded as if I’m not important. And it’s clubs or groups like these that I try to run away from. You’re brave. I would have walked out.

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