The other day I was trying to describe a particular type of Momzilla which I encountered while riding the train at Busch Gardens. This is not a particular type which only hangs out in kiddie-type attractions, mind you– it’s just that these two happened to be carrying on their weird charade right in front of us.
And by charade I mean "this really weird alpha mom ritual that is so indescribable and commonplace you’ll probably roll your eyes before you get to the end of this entry and stop reading altogether."
One of the mothers was overly tanned and bejeweled and ponytailed and thin. Her ponytail was what I shall refer to as the Town & Country ponytail– the one that you see in the understated socialites as they nonchalantly smile from the pages of some social do. She had an immaculate white visor on, too. And honestly, visors are those things that I can’t imagine anyone actually going out and buying, let alone wearing, unless they are golf pros or 67 years old, but there you are.
The other one had "sensible" written all over her face. Though her hair was up in a simple ponytail as well, on her head it looked practical and, again, sensible. Sneakers, sensible. T-shirt, sensible. Skin, very fair and possibly coated in SPF 50-plus.
Their children were between them, in more ways than one.
Town & Country ponytail kept on raving about something and hugging her two children –and the other mother’s child– close to her, playfully pointing out things I couldn’t quite make out. She was going to cuddle those kids and they were going to like it, dammit.
Sensible ponytail would periodically straighten out her child and then the other two –as if invisible yet nefarious cold drafts would surge in the 90 degree stillness and give any or all of them pneumonia. She was going to coddle those kids and they were going to like it, dammit.
Both of them would take turns speaking, but their conversations were disjointed, as if the children were such porous buffers that any and all words were absorbed by them, never to reach the other mother’s ears.
Back and forth they pretend-bantered and their bits of conversation trickled in: snippets about birthday parties –and how best to plan them– and playdates –and how to handle those best. Then came some tidbits about school and possibly field trips –and, naturally, how to deal with those as well– and then maybe a focus on the park, and which way it was best to go from one place to another.
But they never once seemed to be talking to one another: their conversations seemed directed at whoever would be willing to listen, if such a thing was indeed possible within the open confines of a trolley ride. It was as though actually listening to each other and what they had to say would render them null –like waves out of phase, which when they encounter each other they become a flat line and cancel themselves out, as if they had never existed.
When the train stopped at the Stanleyville station, they somehow managed to agree on how and where to go. It seems that wherever they were going, the skycab would go faster. They grabbed all their brood and gear and off they went, alternately demonstrating the proper way of conducting momly business and eyeing each other askance, hoping that they were doing it better than the other one.
I cannot begin to imagine what sort of exhausting friendship that must be, where you’re always supposed to be, do, say, look and love better than anyone else.
Then again, I have been there before — maybe not as a mother who mothers too much with her friends who friend and frenemy too much, but certainly as someone who gets into a Sisyphean contest with another friend over boyfriends, grades, looks, other friends, etc.
All I can still think about is the exhaustion of it all. And also, the wish that no one should have to encounter that sheer madness of not just having to mother the world, but also having to top another version of oneself.
What those mothers needed was someone to coddle and cuddle them, in turn.
And perhaps, a change of hairdo: maybe ponytails are evil.