Call her a judgy mommy, call her a sanctimommy, call her
toxic, but we have all encountered the Mommy Troll at some point in our tenure
as mothers. The problem is, we think of trolls as being anonymous creeps on the Internet and fail to recognize the trollish behavior of the mom who sits next
to us at the pediatrician's office or is on the sidelines with us at soccer practice.
By the time we realize we're dealing with someone who
will never see us as equals or respect our choices as parents, we've been made
to feel guilty and second-guessed our own beliefs. Don't succumb to the Mommy
Troll! Learn how to recognize the signs:
1. She starts her sentences with, "I could never…"
Whether it's "I could never put my baby in daycare" or "I
could never feed my baby non-organic food," she is quick to draw the line in
the sand between you (the substandard mother) and her (the superior mother). She
speaks in absolutes and she will not consider any circumstances that would make
her choose your option.
2. She offers advice even when you haven't asked for it
You tell her you're thinking about buying a new car. Before
you can take a breath and say which ones you're considering, she is already
pulling out her color-coded research on the safest vehicles for children. Which
isn't a bad thing in itself, unless you've picked a car that isn't on her list.
Then she will pucker her mouth and say, "I could never put my baby in a car
that didn't have the highest safety rating." (See #1, above).
3. She is the queen of one-upping you, no matter what the
Her baby has done it sooner and she has done it better.
You were in labor for 12 hours? She was in labor for two
days. Your child walked at 11 months? Hers was walking at 9-and-a-half
months and reading by age 3. Your baby slept through the night by 4 months? Her baby slept through the night when he was 2 weeks old. Whatever
your discussing, her baby has done it sooner and she has done it better. And if
by some miracle you did actually manage to do something better than her, she
will dismiss it with a wave of her hand as unimportant.
4. She's always talking bad about her other mom friends
If the Mommy Troll isn't talking about her superior
parenting skills, she's talking about how inferior other moms are. Whether it's
her sister-in-law, her next door neighbor or a coworker, she will regale you
with stories of other mothers' failures. Soon you will recognize yourself in
some of her stories (even when she puts her hand on your arm and says, "But you
aren't like her, you didn't know/didn't have a choice"). Keep in mind: If she's
talking about other moms to you, she's almost certainly talking about you to
other moms. Is that really the kind of friend you need in your life?
5. She believes there is only one Right Way to raise a
She doesn't believe in different parenting styles—there is
only one style, and it is hers. And it doesn't matter if she's a helicopter
parent, an attachment parent, a free range parent or something else, there is
no way but her way. You will tell yourself that she is passionate about her
parenting style, and she is, but don't be fooled by her passion—if you don't
subscribe to the exact same parenting tenets, you are wrong (according to her)
and she will let you know it. Often.
6. She is a martyr to the cause of motherhood
M may be for Mommy, but in her world M is for Martyr.
Oh, the sacrifices the Mommy Troll has made! Let her count
the ways. In your world, M may be for Mommy, but in her world M is for Martyr.
And though she would never call herself one, she is quick to describe all the
ways she has sacrificed for her children. While it's tempting to roll your eyes
and let her vent, it's hard not to feel sorry for her kids who are hearing the
same stories again and again. No one likes a martyr, but you can't tell her
7. She always has time to tell you what you're doing wrong,
but she never has time to be your friend
She is so filled with advice, so passionate in her beliefs,
you might mistakenly think she really cares about you and your kids. But ask
her to babysit so you can go to a doctor's appointment or ask for that amazing
recipe she has for homemade granola, and you'll find a door slammed in your
face. The Mommy Troll thrives on feeling superior, and if you start measuring
up, you will quickly be discarded. You're not allowed to forget your place with
a Mommy Troll—she is the rockstar, you are the roadie.
8. She is secretly terrified she's screwing it all up
Well, that's what we want to think, right? We want to cut
the Mommy Troll some slack because we think all of her perfect posturing is
just a sign of her insecurity and need for validation. And in some cases that's
absolutely true and the Mommy Troll will grow more confident with time and
outgrow her trollish behavior (and maybe even apologize for it!). But in some
cases, nope, that's just who she is. She isn't insecure, she's just
narcissistic and unable to see anyone's perspective, or empathize with anyone's
feelings but her own.
Don't feel bad for running in the opposite direction if you
meet a Mommy Troll or have allowed her a space in your life for longer than she
deserved. At the end of the day, you are just as good a mother as she is—maybe
even better, since you're putting your efforts into making good choices instead
of just insulting the choices of other moms.