Sunday, January 3, 2010

Mommy Mafia


So the other day Chris got a phone call from a woman whose son plays lacrosse, yada, yada, yada (I won't bore you with the details). I made a face when Chris told me about the phone call and said, "Eeewwww. I can't STAND that woman. She's one of those high-maintenance mommies, part of that whole Mommy Mafia." As usual, hubby looked at me as if I had two heads.

While the traditionally male-dominated Mafia conjures up images of Italian-American men in pinstripes suits, the Mommy Mafia is much more stylish and much more sinister. Historically, the Mafia has deep roots in metro NY/NJ and towns like Chicago and Las Vegas. The Mommy Mafia has roots in the deep south (geographical considerations and personal experience will be discussed at great lengths in this post). Rumour has it, it is actually easier to leave Organized Crime than the Mommy Mafia. Once you're in, you're in for life.


The Mommy Mafia is that group of women who live vicariously through their children. The Mommy Mafia remains relatively quiet during the pre-school and elementary school years yet their presence can still be felt. These are the mom's who selectively organize shopping outings, lunch dates, tennis games, etc. while the children are safely ensconced in the classrooms. These are the mom's who are the first to volunteer to be Room Mom, PTO President, etc. Their manicured hands automatically shoot up and their eyes glaze over at the mention of field trips and class parties. These are the mom's who, for the weeks leading up to Homecoming, update their Facebook statuses with things like "Mary Claire just got asked to Homecoming!" "Shopping for the PERFECT Homecoming dress with Ann Elizabeth!!!" "Susie Parker is trying to decide what her group should do for Homecoming!!" (Ever notice how all these kids have two first names???) "STILL searching for that PERFECT Homecoming dress!!!" "Found the PERFECT Homecoming dress, just need the shoes, earrings and purse!!!" For weeks leading up to said event, the Mafia Mom's household goes into crisis mode and all normal activities cease. The Mafia Mom (not to be confused with her male counterpart, the Mafia Don) takes the day off from work or cancels all unnecessary family appointments the day of said event to hold her daughter's hand as she gets a mani/pedi and/or her hair/make-up done (and FB's and Tweets about the hours spent at the salon in VIVID, GRAPHIC detail..."Ashley Cole's big toe just got polished!!!"). This scenario repeats itself several times throughout the school year throughout all four years of high school (usually starting with Homecoming, maybe a Christmas dance or two thrown in for good measure, definitely Sadie Hawkins and culminates with the mack-daddy of all high school events -- PROM!!!!).

The Mafia Mom knows exactly which child has made the softball team, the cheerleading squad, Varsity baseball and/or football (honestly, Mafia Mom's don't really give a shit about basketball), homecoming court, yearbook committee, etc. More importantly, she knows which child DIDN'T make the cut and usually uses phrases like "Bless Her Heart" and "Poor Thing" when gossiping with her friends from church. The Mafia Mom's child always has the most sparkling white baseball pants, their football uniforms are pressed prior to each game and their daugther's have the biggest hairbows regardless of the sport or activity (hairbows can and will be worn for all public outings: volleyball, softball, cheerleading, basketball, dance team, girl scouts, Sunday School, etc.). Little known but entirely true fact: the Mafia Mom also prefers daughters over sons. Daughters equal pageants (a southern specialty!!), sororities and weddings.

The Mafia Mom calls her son's or daughter's various sports coaches and inundates them with miscellaneous requests/questions...."My husband and I think Billy Ray should be the starting pitcher instead of being in the outfield." "Why are the kids wearing green uniforms? Junior looks so much better in baby blue. Baby blue really matches his eyes." "I really think Autumn Brooke is way too pretty to be stuck in the back row during the half-time routine, don't you agree??" The phone calls and e-mails never cease. Even when Bubba's a senior in high school...."Bubba has a sinus infection so he won't be at practice tonight." As expected, Mafia Mom's automatically volunteer to be Team Mom and takes control of planning the end-of-year-team party.

Even when the kids are at college and out of the house, the Mafia pulls these Mom's back in. "What college did Ruby Sue decide on?" "Well of course he's Alpha Chi Rho!!!" "Well, I heard Dannielynn didn't get into the honors dorm. Bless her heart!" "What did Ricky Bobby get on his MCAT's??" The Mafia Mom goes into semi-retirement after the excitement of college graduation dies down but gets sucked back in when a daughter becomes betrothed. Mafia Mom's have been known to cancel Thanksgiving and Christmas if the aforementioned daughter is planning an October, November, December or January wedding. When a grandchild is born to a Mafia Mom, she graduates to full-on "Meemaw Mode."


I first became aware of the Mommy Mafia in June 1999. We had been living in Alabama a few short days (actually, it was more like we had been living in Alabama just a few short hours) and desperately needed a break from unpacking moving boxes. Hugely pregnant and horribly swollen from heat and humidity I have never experienced in my entire life, I took daughter #1 to the neighborhood pool for the first time. After the initial stare-downs and subsequent questionning that would put a CIA operative to shame, I was invited to sit in the inner circle (similar to the cool kids table in the school lunch room except with a sun umbrella and patio cushions) and privvy to inimate details of my neighbor's (and not so near neighbor's) lives. The names thrown around at the pool had no faces and meant absolutely nothing to me but that evening I was able to tell my husband which neighbor's kids made the cheerleading squad and which didn't ("I heard they couldn't afford the uniform fees. Billy Mack's been out of work all these months. Bless his heart."). I knew who was dating who and who was pregnant ("Poor Thing!"). I knew which neighbors went to which church and which church was acceptable. I discovered which neighbors had a lakehouse and which neighbors had a place at the beach. I was told which beach to go to (Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and Destin are all acceptable, Panama City Beach is not). I could go on and on but to be blunt, southern women gossip like nobody's business.

Now, don't get me wrong. Northern women talk (it's usually called a Koffee Klatch) but I can honestly tell you that my mother and her friends never once interferred in their children's lives to the extent of a southern Mafia Mom. If their kid didn't make a team, they didn't make a team because there was someone better. They didn't make the team because the Mafia Mom went to high school with the coach's sister's husband. They didn't know who was up for homecoming queen and they really didn't care. My mom was happy I had a prom date junior and senior year but she didn't obssess over it. She didn't keep track of who went to which church and how often. Compared to some of my friends from home, I had very involved parents, too. My dad helped coach a little league team even though my baby brother was about 2 years old. My mom volunteered at school when needed, they always came to football games when I cheered (youth football all the way thru high school) and my dad always helped out on the chain gang when asked. Both of my parents were in bowling leagues, my dad golfed and I remember him playing softball when I was a kid.

Many an afternoon I came home from school to find my mother, Ellie, Anna, Phyllis, Margaret, and Lucy sitting around the kitchen table with cups of coffee in hand and an Entemann's crumb cake on the table. Many a summer was spent at the swim club. We all went on big family vacations together. They NEVER and I do mean NEVER talked about other people's children. I think it was taboo because in the back of their minds, your kid could be next. In other words, never say never (as in: My child would NEVER fill-in-the-blank). Because you know what? Your kid WILL and, chances are, your kid DID.

1 comment:

*Yankee Belle* said...

I MISS Entemanns CAKE!!! Coffee crumb...I'm salvating just thinking about it.

Oh, and I know what you mean. All too well now. ;)



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