The Suburban Anthropologist’s Definitive Guide to the Elementary School Mother (Revised for 2013)

imagesAs another school year is beginning I would be remiss if I didn’t share this compelling research completed by my keen scientific mind (and by scientific I mean snarky). I consider myself one of the foremost Suburban Anthropologists currently working today.  My area of expertise is the suburban elementary school mother. Known in the science community as -”Mater Ludem.” In my study I have documented that elementary school moms can be placed into 17 distinct species categories. (In alphabetical order)

Bling Bling Mom: Bling Bling yearns to the center of attention. You can spot her a mile away because of her tendency to over bedazzle. From excessive cleavage to turbo tanning Bling Bling likes to think she’s one hot mama. Not big on volunteering she will help out on any “dad heavy” events like Field Day and attend the parent only fundraisers where she usually over imbibes and hits on someone else’s spouse. Her female offspring can easily be identified as the little girls wearing large diamond hoop earrings and kitten heels in kindergarten.

Enviro-Organic Police Mom: This is the sugar buster mom or as I call her, while shoveling McDonald french fries down my pie hole, the no fun mom. The Enviro- Organic Police Mom is armed with science and lots of good sense but her crusade is not tempered with compassion. She’s the mom responsibility for the sugar-free birthday party treats rule, the fruits and vegetables only school holiday parties and the no bake sales or cake walks at the school fair edict. I applaud her healthy mission. I object to her condescending manner. Just because a child has experienced the unfettered joys of the Happy Meal does not a bad mom make. The Enviro-Organic Police Mom can usually be seen wearing hemp shorts, a sustainably grown bamboo velour hoodie, and organic cotton tennis shoes with natural Amazon hevea rubber soles. Do not let her see you with a plastic water bottle.The lecture will be long and intense. Her offspring can be found at my house eating tablespoons of refined white sugar and Duncan Hines brownie batter.

Facebooker/Twittering/Instagrammer: Say hello the social media whore. This is the mom’s whose self-worth is measured by how many followers she has on her various social media sites and she’ll even stoop so low as to request your kids be her “friend”. No hum drum detail of her day is so insignificant it’s not worthy of being status updated, tweeted or shared. Avoid this woman at all cost and if you do see do not make direct eye contact. Chances are if you so much as glimpse in her direction you’ll wind up on her Twitter feed as #momsatmykidsschoolaresostupid

Hipster Mom: Look for the mom in the tight indie rock band t-shirt, cargo pants, some kind of ski hat, (although it’s 97 degrees out), and the newest funky athletic shoe/sandal hybrid and it’s a pretty safe bet you’ve found the Hipster Mom. She excels at being cool and has extensive knowledge of off the beaten track eco-vacations, the latest, tastiest sustainable wheat harvested micro brew, and her iTunes is jammed with the most “awesome up and coming bands ever.” She’s the female version of Peter Pan, never growing up, stuck somewhere in between her senior year in college and grad school.  Her kids are way cool with long hair that looks like it’s never seen a brush, and baggy, saggy, yet expensive clothes that say edgy with a touch of vintage rocker.

iPadder: Beware of this mother at any school event and for the love of God do not sit anywhere near her. She will block your view of the school play, choir recital, band concert – you name it with her iPad hoisted up in the air. When not using her tablet to record every precious waking moment of her children’s life you can find her with her head down transfixed on her iPad. This mom has lost the ability to engage in the conversational arts as Candy Crush is taking up all of her free time.

Marathon Mom: You see this mom running most mornings apres school drop off.  She volunteers for events that feature some kind of physical fitness. She’s usually clad in spandex running pants, jog bra and a huge runners watch to track her time and distance. This mom is motivated and dedicated as long as school events do not interfere with her training schedule and marathon dates. The Marathon Mom can tend to her volunteer obligations all while jogging in place, checking her heart rate, de-wedging her Nike thong underwear and sniffing her armpits.

Mean Girl: Like cockroaches mean girls never die. They grow up and spawn mean children. This is the girl who made you cry in middle school, who you hid from in high school and the one you tried to keep out of your sorority by hiding her legacy references. The Mean Girl is up at the elementary school under the guise of volunteering, but it’s really to stir up trouble. She’s the mom who corrects the Friday spelling tests and then blabs about which kids got bad grades. She’s a fixture at every school function not to help, but to complain about how it is being run and/or start rumors about PTA malfeasance. No surprise her children are school bullies, yet in her eyes, they can do no wrong. She circumvents any of her child’s discipline problems by threatening to take legal action against the district.

Mom Jeans: A staple of any elementary school. The mom who time forgot. Her high-waisted jean clad lower half is usually paired with a tucked in knit shirt (that totally emphasizes the hideousness of the mom jean) and generic sneakers. Her hair is short and facial waxing is a foreign concept. The typical Mom Jean works in the background of school events preferring to keep an extremely low profile.  Although, there have been reports of Mom Jeans with superior math skills ascending to the “lofty” position of PTA Treasurer.

The Old (insert city or town of your choice here) Mom: The old designation does not refer to the Mom’s age, but her family’s social standing as in “She’s Old Dallas” translation she’s “old money” or “once upon a time money.”  Many of the Old (insert city or town of your choice here) Moms trade on the history of what once was and try to block out their more meager 21st century financial situation. This is evidenced by the fact that her children are in public schools.The Old (insert city or town of your choice here) Mom usually has at least four names, with at least one being ridiculous – like Windsor Astor Carnegie Ford.  Her friends call her Winnie or Tor. You don’t call her anything because she doesn’t make eye contact with your kind.  And by your kind, I mean those of us who not only shop at Target, but worship its mighty therapeutic powers. This Mom can be seen at school liberally name dropping and planning her 6 year olds birthday day party with a debutante ball worthy zeal.  Her volunteer skills are not wasted on the elementary school level, but saved for black tie events that may make society news.  One quirk in the Old (insert city or town of your choice here) Mom is that she is surprisingly cheap when it comes to donating to the school.  No contributions made to the school raffle, teacher birthday party fund or even a school directory purchase.  Rumors abound that she habitually forgets her wallet at lunch and one summer never paid for her children’s private swim lessons.  Her female offspring can be identified by their monogrammed hair bows and Lilly Pulitzer shorts.  Her male offspring by their collection of exclusive summer camp T-shirts.

Phoner: We’ve seen this category drop off in numbers as more and more Phoner Moms became Texter Moms or iPadders.  Although, the volume is still significant enough to warrant entry into the study.  The Phoner Mom can be seen and heard yakking into her phone during any and all school functions. Her phone turns her into a play-by-play announcer at kid’s events.  Empirical data example – at school concerts the Phoner Mom is sharing every bit of the action with her phone.  “Oh, there’s Eddie. He’s walking on stage. He looks so cute. I wish you could see him.  I’m waving at him now. He saw me. He’s waving back.”  This goes on for the entire concert. The Phoner Mom’s unhealthy relationship with her mobile device makes it impossible for her to follow school protocol and turn her cell off.  She just can’t do it. No amount of dirty looks from other parents, no intervention from school authorities is enough to break the hold the phone has on her.  She’ll need rehab and a 12 step program to successfully battle this addiction.  Research shows that the phone is a gateway drug that without treatment eventually leads to dual Texter/iPad Mom syndrome.

 Poser: This mom uses the elementary school as her own personal fashion runway.  Every foray into the school is a chance for this Mom to show you what she’s got in her closet.  She comes to pose not to participate. I estimate her morning grooming ritual takes at least two hours. Class party equals Rock & Republic skinny jeans and off the shoulder Marc Jacobs cashmere sweater.  P.T.O. meeting means Tori Burch sundress and matching flats. Her other identifying feature is gianormous bug eye sunglasses.  If the paparazzi frequented elementary schools and In Style magazine did fashion layouts featuring mom’s in the burbs then the Poser Mom’s life would be complete.

 Stiletto: The Stiletto Mom can be identified by her smoking hot shoes. I’m talking Sex in the City worthy footwear. Think Manolo Blahnik’s $965 Chiffon Open-Toe Bootie sandal/stiletto.  When she walks onto school property you hear her first. The distinctive sound of handcrafted Italy leather shoes with an outrageous heel clipping down the hall.  This mom is rarely sited on the grounds of an elementary school.  She’s a career mom with a capital C and doesn’t have much time in her schedule to make frequent appearances at school. Everything about her denotes power and prestige. Her clothes are as expensive as her footwear. She smells like money. If money smells like the Neiman’s couture department. When she shows up though she delivers. Cookies for the school party – they’re not just grocery store bakery issued.  They’re one-of-a-kind creations by a celebrated pastry chef.  Her off spring is the one that is not hugging his/her mom.  Stiletto child learns at an early age not to touch Mommy’s clothes with eager, potentially paste encrusted or magic marker stained hands.

Texter: The Texter Mom can be identified by her obsession with her smart phone. At any school event she can be found transfixed by her phone.  Cradling it lovingly in her hands as her thumbs work themselves into a frenzy.  No matter what is happening at the school her face never leaves her phone screen.  I’ve conducted several experiments over the course of the year to determine the Texter’s love affair with her phone in correlation to her motherly devotion to her child.  Sadly, I must report the phone won – handedly. Here is sampling of data from my research: Child on stage during a performance – Mom’s face staring at phone.  Child taking part in athletic event – Mom’s visual acuity focused on phone screen. Child in spelling bee – Mom’s face still implanted on phone, thumbs moving at high rate of speed.  The last bit of research that sealed the Texter Mom’s cellular preoccupation leaning towards an O.C.D. diagnosis was the Mom texting during her child’s parent-teacher conference.

Two Faced Roving Gossip: Dangerous if cornered the Two Faced Roving Gossip is a nomad moving between all the species categories. How else would she collect ingredients for her slander stew.  Her strength lies in her ability to be a chameleon changing her personality to suit each group and ferret out half-truths and facts to disseminate with the school’s parent population.

Vajazzler:  (Bling Bling Mom’s hotter sister) Her credo is: “I’m hot and you’re not.”  She works the elementary school environment just like she used to work the stage at the “gentleman’s club” – proud and loud. Her biggest challenge is remaining upright due to her overwhelming breast enhancement, that gravity being what it is, tends to tip her over at times. Look for the Vajazzler rubbing up against all the dads at school functions and not being afraid to “bust a move” during Field Day.  Beware having your child go to her house for a playdate. Rumor has it there’s a pole in her bedroom.

Worker Bee: This mom is the glue that holds the school volunteer effort together. She can been seen buzzing around the school multi-tasking at events and doing most of the heavy lifting.  Her unique trait is the ability to give a non- volunteer (i.e. The Poser) a blistering evil eye while simultaneously running the school fair and laminating children’s artwork. She also excels at self-control.  She can listen to anti-volunteer moms (i.e. The Mean Girls) complain about how “lame” a school function is and not punch them hard right in the face. Her identifying physical traits are dark circles under her eyes and hair that you know she’s going to color or highlight just as soon as the fundraiser is over.

Yoga Pant/Ugg Mom: From the first day of school to the last this is the mom who you will never see in anything but Yoga pants and Uggs. It doesn’t matter if it’s 110 degrees and the National Weather  Service has issued a heat advisory this mom will still be yanking on black yoga pants and her beloved fur-lined Uggs. This outfit is most often accessorized with a Venti Starbucks and a superior attitude.

No species groups are pure. In my research I have found that some moms are adept at shape shifting from one group to another or not being fully part of one group but having attributes of several different species.  For example, a Mean Girl could also be an Old (insert city or town of your choice here) Mom and a Poser or a Mom Jeans could also be a iPadder or a Phoner. As in any research you should factor in some degree of author bias. Yet, I think you will find my methodology holds true and my data is sound. For I am, if nothing else, a professional.

***For all things wonderfully Snarky go to www.snarkygear.com where you can find the new Spring/Summer  Snarky line of clothing and accessories. Plus, there’s my book – Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. (Click here for purchase information.) Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

21 thoughts on “The Suburban Anthropologist’s Definitive Guide to the Elementary School Mother (Revised for 2013)

  1. dawneatscake says:

    Very astute observations! Although you’re missing the various species of granola moms that are thriving in the NW. I love observing their reactions as I hand a happy meal to the middle schooler while toting a Target-clad, Twinkie-eating toddler. I’m so glad I ran into this blog, my suburbs were looking fairly bleak this week.

  2. Sheri says:

    Love this! Can you expand on the post in the future and discuss the dens/pods/herds grade school moms form? I find group psyche creates a whole new level of “species” interaction and I know you will have something interesting to say about it.

  3. Crabby says:

    Wow. I haven’t been part of the elementary school scene for five years but you hit the nails on the head! This is fantastic!

  4. TheAngelForever says:

    Love this! Next week I will be sitting there on the playground trying to figure out which category each person is on. Of course, I wish there was a blogging Mom one. You know like me – has Twitter on cell phone and camera in hand for all bloggable moments 😉

  5. Anna says:

    What about a combo platter mom? A Blue Plate Special, where you encounter multiple personality quirks all in one tightly wound package. Like the SoccOrganic Guzzler Mom. She would be the one that coaches your kids’ Soccer team, uses it as an opportunity to spread Nutritional Organic Propoganda all while driving in her pretty silver Super Sized SUV, so she can still keep all of her kids in car seats until they are of adult height and weight! Yeah, that would be me……

  6. Lynda says:

    And folks wonder why I lump school volunteering opportunities into the same “Avoid at All Costs” category as bikini waxes and cocktail hour with your Ob/Gyn doctor…nothing good will come from it. Our PTO has more cliques than my high school.

    By the way, a friend forwarded your blog to me this week, and after reading your entries, I’m fairly certain you and I were separated at birth. I’m also sure my fellow cube farmers are wondering why there have been so many snorts and chuckles coming from my side of the room…

  7. Guest says:

    You know, maybe I just have no sense of humor, but I find this article to be anti-woman and hateful. Is there any way a woman can be and not fall under your snarky categories? If she’s sexy, she is a tramp. If she’s not sexy, she is hideous and old, (the old mother-whore dichotomy). If she’s involved, she’s judgmental. If she’s not, she only goes to events to chase men. I’m thinking: women can’t win under your scheme.

    Which type, pray tell, are you?

  8. Keiare says:

    How about the scatter-brained mom. From gym shoes to lunches, its a daily battle for her to get out the door with everything and not make 2-3 trips to the school to drop things off. Was there homework due today? Although she is well intentioned and tries to be helpful and get everything done… lol I could go on, because I am this type >.<

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