So you have made a new mom friend and you’re trying not to spaz out because this means you now have another adult female with whom you can communicate without using the words "poo-poo," "blankie," "milkies" and "uh oh!" (but let’s be honest: you still will because that crap is now just a part of your vocabulary), swap some mama horror stories and go shopping. Everything is going great until one day you are chatting and you’re like:
"Man, did I ever worry about Lily when she was little. She didn’t even walk until she was 15 months old, and for the longest time, the only words she ever said were ‘no,’ ‘fart’ and ‘damnit.’"
Instead of laughing and sharing her own story, she stares at you, sniffs and says that she can’t relate, really, because her little angel crawled at 4 months, walked at 8 months, was potty-trained by 1 year, speaks fluent German and has never even uttered the word "no."
You, my friend, have just encountered a "braggy mom." Braggy moms are the ones who never, EVER have anything negative to say about their child and can’t help but gush about them. They tend to use words and phrases like "amazing," "gifted," "talented," "knack" and "natural ability." Sometimes, they’re "humblebraggy moms," meaning they brag but make it sound all nonchalant: "Oh, my kid is a 2-year-old fiddle-playing savant. No big. I mean, pretty much every kid is playing the fiddle these days." Their humblebrags are usually accompanied by a shrug.
Conversations between braggy moms and normal moms usually go like this:
—"I was in labor for 10 seconds, pushed once and caught my child myself. I had no labor pains and was back to Zumba the next day."
—"... I was in labor for 20 hours straight, got four epidurals, pooped in my doctor’s face and threw a bedpan at my nurse ... I’m, er ... actually not allowed back in that hospital."
—"Penelope is SO into her ABCs right now. She can say them all and loves to sing them while doing a little dance. It’s so adorable and I’m just so happy that she’s showing a penchant for spelling AND music!"
—"Katie’s really into beating strangers with a large plastic iguana that she calls ‘Iron Man.’"
—"I’ve got Victoria in dance twice a week, and she has a real knack for it. She’s performing in the 4-year-old class production of 'Swan Lake' next week."
—"... My kid likes to watch cat videos on YouTube and laughs when I make fart noises with my hands."
—"Preston is in the gifted class at school—he tested off the charts and is learning to play the violin."
—"My kid likes to cram buckets on his head and spin in circles until he throws up. In the bucket."
—"Nicholas was potty trained at 1. It really wasn’t that hard; I don’t know what everyone fusses about."
—"The other day when we were at a restaurant, I took Alexis to the bathroom; and she sat there for five minutes, grunting like a pig. When she was done and my back was turned for two seconds, she licked the toilet seat."
Conversations with braggy moms are awkward. You can’t really call them out on what they’re claiming even though WE ALL KNOW YOU ARE LYING SO STOP IT because there is always that teensy chance that they aren’t lying and their kid actually is a freaking prodigy. But let’s get one thing clear: Your gifted, violin-playing, German-speaking kid isn’t more special or amazing than my kid. Unless he invented a cure for cancer or a vacuum that doesn’t terrify cats and HIMSELF, he is a kid who picks his nose just like mine.
Nothing ruins a mom friendship like the mom who can’t keep her trap shut about her kid and his accomplishments. Your gut reaction to a braggy mom’s wild stories of their child’s brilliance may be to throw cereal puffs in her face and scream, "LIAR!" while wildly pointing an accusing finger at her. You need to rein that in, though, because that would make you that crazy, pointing, screaming mom with the kid who licks toilet seats. No one would want to play with you OR your toilet-licking child, and you’d become a social pariah in the mom world forever. Instead, you sit there and frantically try and take back the part about the plastic iguana beatings—except you can’t because you can never take back plastic iguana beatings. Ever.
I know that it’s natural to brag about our children and to think that they are the most wonderful ever, and they are—to us. I try to keep my gushing in check, because although I think everything out of my daughter’s mouth is amazing and hilarious, other people probably see her as just another kid who isn’t as cool and funny as their own kid. So moms (and dads—y’all aren’t exempt), let’s remember not to get too braggy ... because I know a kid who is dying to give someone a plastic iguana beating.
Natalie Green is a Chicago girl living in Chattanooga with her husband and their 3-year-old daughter. When she’s not working full time outside of the home, she enjoys reading, writing, singing, zombies and running. From zombies. And also beer. You can stalk her blog, Mommy Boots, or follow her on Twitter @mommyboots; or you can email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
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