105 Ways to Give a Book

Queen Bee Moms

Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin DadsI’m drinking my coffee trying to wake up for another day when this article in the Washington Post Health section catches my eye. Rosalind Wiseman, who wrote Queen Bees and Wannabes, is taking on the moms with her new book Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads. I am already hooked on three levels: psychology (my college major), moms (my chosen profession), and bees (because they make honey, and I looove honey).

The author explores the hidden world of moms, which isn’t as different from middle school as you might think. There are cliques and competition. There is gossip and shunning. There is the dreaded PTA, which should be an avenue for bringing parents together in the interest of the needs of the school and the children, but all too often is taken over by control freaks with their own pet projects in mind.

Brring. Brrring. The telephone rings. And lo and behold, it is one of my friends who needs to let off steam about this very thing. One of the moms on the PTA board wants the PTA to pay for a pizza party. But the PTA won’t pay for a party when it is usually this mom and four other families who come. Plus this mom doesn’t mingle with the other parents anyway, so why should the PTA pay for what is essentially her party? Another mom wants the PTA to contribute to her pet project, a charity walk. Well, it happens to be illegal for one nonprofit to pay out to another nonprofit (unless it is in that first nonprofit’s mission to do so). So, uh, no. We won’t be contributing. Another PTA parent gave money to her volunteers for helping her with a fund-raiser, obviously stretching the definition of volunteer.

My oldest used to go to a co-op preschool. Now the idea of the co-op preschool is to reduce costs and increase parental involvement by having parents running things overall and assisting in the classroom, but with a paid director and teachers. I loved the concept, but what I found was a tight clique of moms running things and putting other moms down. They were mostly women who had stopped working when they had kids, and now had to make work for themselves. We couldn’t have two fundraisers, we had to have twelve. We couldn’t do one thing for teacher appreciation week, we had to do five. I just wanted to send my daughter to preschool and help out in the classroom sometimes. How did it get so complicated?

Too many moms with too much time on their hands.

Please, take up knitting, quilting, tae bo, but stop mucking around in our schools and our PTAs.

I am heading out to buy this book, probably the first book I have bought new in a year, because I can’t wait for my library to get it. Beware — this isn’t the last you have heard from me on this topic.


Anonymous said...

If you were a psychology major, you should know that Ms. Wiseman does not have any type of psychology or counseling degree. She has made a career over labeling, first girls, and now their moms. I realize that girls and women can be very mean to each other (I and my daughter have been at the receiving end), but I don't think throwing out simplistic and hurtful labels is the way to address this. There is something woman-hating about the tone of this book, which makes me uncomfortable. We need positive models and contructive ways to address these issues, not name-calling.

MotherReader said...

Thanks for sharing your point of view. I think that giving something a name can help identify the example for other people and bring them together in a "oh, that's happened to me!" kind of way. But, it is very easy to turn that same device into a more negative label that oversimplifies the issue. For me, I just want a jumping off point for women to start talking about these issues and find a way to make things better for themselves and their kids.

glennis said...

Wow! I had a completely diferent co-op preschool experience than you did. In our co-op we played and interacted with families in our neighborhood and created social capitol that has lasted well over a decade. We recently celebrated a 50th birthday for one of the moms and invited the pre-school teacher that had taught our kids. Turns out she has ovarian cancer. She came and got to see many of her former preschoolers, now 16,17, & 18 years old. We took lots of photos, printed them and made her a photo album on the spot. (we had asked everyone to bring a few old photos as well to put in the album for the teacher) Our kids still hang out together and the group now includes many new friends as well. All I can say is that perhaps your negativity toward the experience didn't allow you find the value that perhaps was there if you had been open to it.
We were for the most part, working moms and saw the value of the moms who were able to stay home with their kids- they were a great asset to the group. Carpe diem!