So I was reading a mommy forum. (Yes, #2, I hear you saying, “Well, there’s your first mistake.” You haven’t said it yet, but I can still hear it!)
One of the women was complaining that her next door SAHM (stay at home mom) neighbor was always making passive-aggressive comments about her being a WOHM (work outside the home mom) or commenting on all the clothing she bought her daughter or what she spent on herself. The SAHM’s daughter is also a bit of a bully despite being a year younger than the WOHM’s son. Recommendations for what to do from other mothers included mostly being passive-aggressive back. (Nobody said, why are you spending so much time with her if your kids don’t even get along?)
It all recently came to a head when the daughter started copying the son copying something annoying that a character in a movie did. The SAHM sent the WOHM a facebook message saying that she was unhappy with her daughter copying the WOHM’s son. That caused the WOHM to get very angry. So the WOHM texted the SAHM (who apparently works the nightshift as a nurse 2-3 nights a month, so I guess is only mostly a SAHM?) at work “and finally got off my chest and called her on her bs. I’ll fill you in more later, but I hope she was up all last night worrying about it.”
The other mothers on the forum then praised the WOHM and shared their own stories. One even said she’d just yelled at a friend for something the friend had said a *year* ago.
But the thing is, I’m always unintentionally saying things that are taken the wrong way. I’m from the midwest and I try not to say anything at all if I can’t say something nice, but sometimes I say things that I don’t realize aren’t nice, or they’re not mean from my world-view but in a different culture they’re inappropriate. (I got in trouble for saying “prick” instead of “jerk” in class once… apparently in Chicago you can put that in the newspaper, but around here it means something sexual.) I also tend to be forthright and honest without a whole lot of word-mincing. That sometimes gets me in trouble, always unintentionally.
My friends say they understand I’m always well-meaning and they make allowances for me (and, indeed, forget that I’m actually kind of obnoxious because they’re used to it), but it can be off-putting for folks who are just getting to know me.
People who get so upset like the woman on the forum (and those cheering her on) are very frightening to me. All that drama is too much. I would be terrified of opening my mouth because sooner or later I know I would inadvertently say something offensive. Especially if they never voice their disagreement in person, politely. I get flashbacks to middle school, which nobody wants to have.
I try hard to think the best of people, because it is easier for my stress-levels to do so. I tend to be pretty forgiving about other people saying stuff. My general reaction is to reply with a lecture of facts to the contrary (“actually, studies find that high quality daycare is better than poor quality home care and high quality home care is better than poor quality daycare, but the jury is still out on homecare vs. daycare… there’s positives and negatives to both“), or to flat out say, “that’s not very nice,” since I figure the way we teach our preschooler to interact probably works on adults too, and it does. If someone were being consistently passive-aggressive to me I think I would probably avoid them if I could. Not send them a nasty text message. Not be passive aggressive back.
Are there a lot of people out there in the real world like this? Maybe there’s a reason I don’t get out much. And am not on Facebook. And still have the 10 cents per text phone plan.