I was the first of my group of friends to have a baby. Even now, four years and two kids later, I don’t have very many IRL mom friends that I have occasion to see day-to-day. Early on, I realized I would need some support. Being a modern, 21st century dame, I did what everyone does and turned to the Interwebz. I fully and proudly admit to being a part of a few online mom groups. In my case, they have been closed groups and I have known these women for about five years now (which blows my damn mind). They’ve become my posse, my mom tribe, my sounding board, my pity party, my commiserators, my advisors, and in many cases, my genuine friends. You better believe I talked to them when writing this article. I talk to them a lot, actually, to the point that if something notable happens, or if I have a question, my husband says, “Did you show your group?”
When you're in a mom's group, you begin to notice some distinct roles develop, as happens in any family (because let's not lie, these women are your clan, they're where you're from). And if you become to a bunch of moms groups (raises hand), you realize that actually, most every group has and needs some approximation of these roles. After all, if every group didn't have a Bargain Mom, we'd all still be paying full retail price for brand new Bumbo seats (as opposed hitting the gear swap she told us about) and breast milk storage bags (instead of buying in bulk with the discount code she magically knew). If we didn't have Drama Mom, we couldn't confidently threaten our significant others with canceling the cable TV, knowing we would never be wanting for adequate popcorn-popping entertainment with this woman in our lives.
If you're in an online moms group, you not only know each of these women, chances are, you've been most of them at one point too.
Whether she’s worrying about the weather, if the lunches she packs are nutritionally balanced, ebola, a zombie apocalypse, or the rash on her child’s leg that she’s posted a picture of that you frankly do not see, this lady is fretful. Look, at some point, we have all been this mom, especially new, first-time parents, but Worrying Mom takes it to another level. Her frantic concerns are constant and time does not chill her out. But her anxious fretting is usually pretty endearing because she doesn’t have a bad bone in her body and, fortunately, other moms can usually talk her down off the metaphorical ledge.
This mom prides herself on being “brutally honest.” She’s also known for saying “people either love me or hate me” and “I can be your best friend or your worst enemy.” She also never fails to describe herself as “loyal” for some reason. (Probably because her not-opposed-to-confrontation attitude makes her to first to stand up for her friends. Is it because she loves her friends or loves standing up for them? Anyone’s guess.) Anyway, this mom has a lot of very strong opinions on everything, including your opinions, and she is physically incapable of holding back. She also has this really nasty habit of conflating “opinion” with “fact.” But even if you really don’t get along with Tell It Like It Is Mom, there will come a time where she will back you and you will be grateful. Tomorrow you will go back to being super-crazy annoyed by her, but a broken clock is right twice a day, as they say.
She claims she’s not posting anything to start a debate… but she really loves posting things with the sole purpose of starting a debate. The Political Mom can fall anywhere on the political spectrum, from Leftist Commie Pinko to right of Atilla the Hun, and her posts may not be strictly speaking “political” but her role in the group is always the same: encouraging people to publicly make their opinions on a particular controversial topic known to see where everyone falls on the issue. She usually brings these discussions to the group in the form of a recently published, widely circulated article, and she’ll preface it with “Interesting read; what do you guys think?” People usually call Political Mom out for intentionally trying to create drama… but if they’re honest with themselves, they usually love it.
“I just had to share this picture of Aiden! Isn’t he just so cute!? LOL! I love this silly guy!” And then the picture is of little Aiden building his own computer with three trophies in the background. This mom is clever: she knows people would openly roll their eyes if she straight up said, “Look how advanced my child is!” but by posting like this, she places the burden of brag on you. Like, “I was just sharing a cute picture. I never said he was “advanced.”" This is just a picture of Aiden being Aiden!” Very clever, Not-So-Subtle Bragger. We see where Little Aiden gets it from.
When someone has a question, or is looking for advice, or wants to know where people bought their child’s toddler bed, this mom is absolutely nowhere to be found. She’s a lurker… except when drama erupts (and it’s a mom group, so drama is going to erupt at regular intervals). The drama awakens her, just like saying “Beetlejuice” three times summons the lovable ghoul. When there’s drama, this mom dominates the conversation. All of a sudden, she is everywhere, and the creepy thing is that she’s been paying attention. She doesn’t need to be filled in on anyone’s backstory or kid’s names. She knows everything about you, somehow, and everyone else. Once the drama dies down, she goes back into hibernation until the next time.
They are two sides of the same coin, and they are passionate about the subject of vaccines. Whether they think that vaccines are government-issue autism serum that makes us all Obama’s robot slave army, or whether they think you should be shipped to an island full of monsters and rattlesnakes if you don’t vaccinate exactly on the CDC schedule, these moms argue with the righteous fury of a thousand Spartan warriors. They both say they’re not experts… but they secretly consider themselves experts.
“You guys, I really need some support right now,” begins 75% of the posts from this mom. “Details in comments.” Worried, you scroll down: “Little Antonio has a splinter. I got it out, but he was so sad and seeing him in pain hurts my heart.” I love you, but this is just not "stop everything and shower me with encouragement" worthy.
This mom knows all about any combination of the following: breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth diapers, co-sleeping, baby-led weaning, eco-friendly toy brands, Montessori and Waldorf schools, Dr. Sears, probiotics, diversity-minded children’s books, DIY baby food, organic cooking, and taking your baby to outdoor music festivals. That’s not to say that you are “crunchy” if you know about any or all of those things, but if you are crunchy, you definitely do. Crunchy Mom is usually pretty zen and laid back. She doesn’t get hung up on achieving milestones, or when to wean, or whether or not you think her kids should be naked in the backyard. She wears her hippie badge with pride.
She has 99 problems and there ain’t one you’re not going to hear about at some point. She doesn’t just do this on her own personal posts: she somehow manages to suck the joy out of everyone’s post.
Damn, cheer up, Debbie Downer Mom!
This mom basically communicates exclusively in pictures. You’re not even really sure of her kid’s name. She’s kind of like the lurking Drama Llama mom, but she’s summoned if people are sharing pictures of their kiddos. Of course, unlike Drama Llama mom, she doesn’t really wait to be summoned. You basically get a picture of her child with a “<3” or a “This girl…” preface every day. Honestly, though? It’s cool. Who’s going to complain about cute pictures of babies in a mom group?
This mom always has a Kohl’s code. Or she tells you what’s on sale at Target this week. Or she can send you a whole bunch of formula coupons. If you show everyone the balance bike you want to buy your kid for their birthday, she can tell you where to get it $20 cheaper. This lady takes joy in getting a good deal, and, luckily for the group, takes equal joy in sharing those deals with others.
Whether she sells something in a multi-level marketing fashion or has her own business, these mamas know how to hustle. Some of them are really cool about it, posting sparingly, sharing when asked, and realizing that the other moms in the group are online friends first and customers second. Others send you an invitation to their online Pampered Jam-Oil parties every other day, and you just can’t use that much Pampered Jam-Oil in your life.
If Pinterest were a person, it would be Craft Mom. She shares her adorable child-centric projects, be they hip, silk-screened onesies, matching bows she’s made for her daughters, or the beautifully restored dresser that’s going in her son’s room. Craft Mom is awesome, talented, and routinely, through no fault of your own, makes you feel like a hapless, uncreative moron.
This mom joined the group sometime after having her second or third baby. She knows what’s up, and all the moms in the group look to her for advice on how long a particular stage will last, whether she has any experience with potty training, and everything else that can’t be answered by even an extensive Google search. She is the Obi-Wan to the group’s collective Luke. The Professor Xavier to our X-Men. The Billy Flynn to our Roxie Hart. She is always patient with our ignorance and never looks down on us for what she knows are overreactions and needless freak outs. This woman is arguably the heart of the whole damn group.
This mom is the worst. She probably has at least 2 0r 3 kids, and clearly puts a lot of her sense of self into her identity as a "mom who knows how to mom." This lady is no dummy when it comes to kids, so it’s not that she gives bad advice or doesn’t know what she’s talking about, but she speaks in absolutes, forgets that she was once a first-time mom in need of some guidance, and believes the ways she did and does things is the only way to go. She’s incredibly condescending and it can sometimes feel like her goal in life is to make you feel like an idiot.
Because these mamas are your girls forever now. So remember: Sometimes stereotypes about online moms groups do exist for a reason, but there’s a whole lot more to these women that you’ll never have the pleasure of experiencing if you insist on keeping them in one category.
Images: Tambako The Jaguar/Flickr; Giphy(16); Jamie Kenney