Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Lessons Learned about Mommy Cliques

By the time I had my son, I was an expert regarding what being a mother would entail. I’d glow while pregnant, women in the grocery store would unexpectedly grip and bless my stomach, and, once my baby was out and about in this world, I’d have a tribe of neighbors and mom friends.

Years of reading fiction had taught me that we’d leave our back door unlocked making it easier for friends to pop in and out of it, that when my husband and I were sick, kind neighbors would swoop in to entertain our son while we slept and leave delicious casseroles in the freezer for when we felt like eating, and that I’d probably join a knitting or mom-gambling club while gracefully balancing my career, breastfeeding, and tending to gorgeous flowers in the yard.

I could picture myself on a Wednesday, making coffee after dinner while loading wine glasses into the dishwasher with the sound of mom-chatter in the background, gazing from my kitchen window at a gaggle of kids playing in the backyard.

And then, there’s what actually happened.

While pregnant, at the age of 40 with an incompetent cervix, I was restricted to bed rest at 26 weeks, not allowed to fly and unable to attend my baby shower in Colorado. I quit working when my little boy was about four days old. My backyard is tiny, and I can’t see it from my kitchen window.

There’s also the fact that a lot of my neighbors are assholes.

Once I untangled myself from my job and realized that I was now a stay-at-home-mom, there was a hot July morning when I strapped my two-week-old son into his Baby Bjorn carrier, went outside, and walked. “Hello, Community!” I thought. “I’m ready to join your mommy clique now!” I walked with my baby and said hello to neighbors who didn’t reply and to others who did. I went to the small playground, and to the larger one, searching for my neighborhood mom village.

Hi! I

I never really found it, at least not in my neighborhood.

Today, I am part of the village that walks our kids to the bus stop each morning, waits with them, applies sunscreen at the last minute, wipes cream cheese from their lips, and reminds them to pick up their discarded backpacks once the bus arrives. But a part of the whole Mommy Clique thing? NotSoMuch.

Turns out, the Bus Stop Mommy Clique starts way before kindergarten. While they were chauffeuring their kids to the co-op preschool a few days a week, the short bus was coming to gather my little boy for seven hours a day of Preschool Autism Classroom (PAC) and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. I wouldn’t trade that for anything, and credit it for my son having found his words.

Luckily, once my son was three, and in PAC, I did find a mommy clique. It includes parents from PAC and online friends, and I am beyond grateful for each of them. For you.

From the ones that I am a part of and also from the ones that I’m not, I’ve learned a few lessons about mommy cliques. Here are a few of them:

  1. The good mommy cliques get you, don’t judge, and welcome new members easily and with grace.
  2. Mommy cliques that are not worth pursuing will judge, discriminate for things like you not being the same religion as they are, and will gossip about other members behind their backs.
  3. Cool mommy cliques say no to mommy wars and don’t care whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, or something in between.
  4. Ones bred from kindness and compassion can save your soul. Sometimes simply because they offer you a glass of wine, or a hug.
  5. It’s good to have a village and to feel a part of a group.
  6. It’s not worth pursuing a village that makes it too hard to join.
  7. I think that trying to write this has made me realize how sad it makes me that so many of us feel alone – without a mommy clique, faltering and fumbling. Which also makes me think that those of us faltering and fumbling and wishing for a mommy clique are already together, in our own. Which brings me peace.

What about you? Are you in a mommy clique? Do you wish you were, if not? I’d love to hear other thoughts on this, as I’m torn about the subject.

***This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, where writers and bloggers gather to complete the same sentence and share our variations on it with one another. Want to join? Or know what the next sentence is? Join our Facebook group!
This week’s sentence is “When it comes to cliques…”

Host: Kristi from
This week’s co-hosts:
Jill from
Michelle from

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  • Anna Fitfunner - Hey there! Not sure that the post needs all that much editing over time. I think that you’ve captured the angst that all of us feel when trying to engage our neighbors. Especially if we’re the mom of a special needs kid. I admit that, while I’m friendly with parents of kids who are neurotypical, my clique (If we ever were exclusive enough to make it a clique. Which we’re not) is mostly made up of parents of special needs kids. They get me. I get them. It’s how we roll.June 18, 2015 – 10:36 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Hi Anna! I love your “They get me. I get them. It’s how we roll.” I’ve made a couple of friends through Tucker’s typical kindergarten but not that I could say we’re a clique or anything. If I belong to any, they are the special needs mom ones and blogging community ones!June 19, 2015 – 3:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Allie - Oh Kristi, I know you’ve had a tough time with the “mommies” and I’m so me sorry for that. And you make me feel especially lucky, because I did find a typical mom (and in was just the two of us the first year at the bus stop), who embraced me and my family. Just be yourself -you are a warrior and I love you and they could learn form you. And if they’re still assholes, seriously, they are not worth you time or your words. I say **ck them!June 18, 2015 – 10:48 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Allie,
      No need to be sorry! I think the bus stop moms bonded years ago – most have kids who are a little older so they’ve had more years at the bus stop than I have. Love your “I say **ck them!” 🙂 You’re awesome and I adore you. I hope you’re having an amazing trip!!June 19, 2015 – 3:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - Aw, said perfectly and I have been so fortunate since Emma started kindergarten to become friendly with a few of the moms on my block with kids similar in age who go on the bus and feel blessed by that. Oh and by the way, one more week here and so cannot wait for the end of this school year now as you I have been so busy and rushed a bit myself the last 2 weeks.June 19, 2015 – 2:08 amReplyCancel

  • Bev - I too can’t see my yard from my kitchen window! 😉
    I feel very fortunate that I live in an area where it’s pretty easy to randomly meet moms at the playground (my friend who lives a couple towns over in the burbs said this isn’t really the case where she lives). Because I live in a city where people are constantly moving in and out, I feel like it’s harder for these types of mom cliques to form. I’m sure by the time my daughter is in school I’m sure a good number of her classmates will have only lived in the area for a couple years. But I do know these things happen — last year there was actually an article about the mom cliques in one of the Boston suburbs. It was reading about high schoolers!

    I’m glad you were able to find your tribe, even if it wasn’t quite what you had envisioned. I find that life never is really what we expect it to be!June 19, 2015 – 8:05 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Bev,
      YAY that it’s easy to meet moms at the playground for you – that makes me happy. Maybe the longer Tucker is in the same school, I’ll get to know the bus stop moms better. There was an article about mom cliques in the Boston suburbs? Wow – I’ll bet it was fascinating (and maybe horrifying??). And yeah, life really is rarely what we expect!June 19, 2015 – 3:14 pmReplyCancel

  • April G - I’ve never paid much attention. There once was a mommy clique that I worked to get in, but it was too much “work”. I called it a day quickly. I’ve met my own mommy friends and they are all over the place.June 19, 2015 – 10:26 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - April, I hear you on the too much “work” to get into a mommy clique! My friends are all over, too.June 19, 2015 – 3:26 pmReplyCancel

  • Erin Johnston - LOVE IT! SOOOOOO TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!June 19, 2015 – 11:04 amReplyCancel

  • Michelle - I avoided writing about mommy cliques just because I had so many bad experiences with them, and I didn’t want to offend the people who weren’t so noble with me, even vaguely without Identifying information, because they blog. The best one I found offline was MOPS, but my kids outgrew that, and those people were more acquaintances than friends, but it was fun. Every meeting was like a convention where you learn something, you get free swag, free food and the option to buy stuff like a book. But I’m glad you found your tribes, and I”ll admit, my blog too has given me a slew of supportive people in my life who I truly appreciate. And that PAC sounds like it was one of the best things to happen for you and your son. I wouldn’t regret a moment of it. Bonding time in that age group is just like your fantasy of watching kids play outside from your window. It’s an illusion. I think I spent the kids toddler to preschool years just cleaning up after their messes, and while I cleaned one, they made another, and then I’d get behind and desperately beg someone to watch them so I could clean and sleep, and no one would, so I cried a lot, with vomit inducing migraines, during that “bonding” period. It will be in my book.June 19, 2015 – 11:51 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Michelle,
      I never heard of MOPS but I’m guessing it’s too late as my son is almost six. I actually had a hard time writing about mommy cliques – I had some great ideas but then didn’t really know what I wanted “out there” ya know?
      And yeah, PAC was amazing for both Tucker and for me – finding a group of moms who get it was huge!
      I can’t wait to read your book!June 19, 2015 – 3:28 pmReplyCancel

  • Echo - I am not a “MomCliquer”, well, offline anyway! Offline, I found that I don’t quite fit in with the other moms my age. I do things a little to different for their liking. I have, however, found a very awesome and diverse Mom-Clique online full of wonderful women that I adore and trust! You should know, you are one of them!June 19, 2015 – 3:33 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw thanks, Echo! And I know what you mean about the online community being so accepting and wonderful. I’m not sure why that is – maybe we get to know each other better than we would at a playground through writing? I’m glad you’re in my clique!!!June 19, 2015 – 3:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Christa Brammeier Grabske - I totally agree with you about the cliques not worth persuing! Let’s just say no to the mommy wars. It’s just not worth it!June 19, 2015 – 3:37 pmReplyCancel

  • Michele @ A Storybook Life - “I’d probably join a knitting or mom-gambling club while gracefully balancing my career, breastfeeding, and tending to gorgeous flowers in the yard.” Bahahahaha. Funny how we knew it all when we were pregnant.

    I’ve found a great mom tribe at our neighborhood daycare (I prefer “tribe” to “clique,” as clique brings back shudders from middle and high school, when I most definitely wasn’t in one). It’s been wonderful to have those moms there as our kids have grown from infancy together, and I really value having them nearby for impromptu meetups with and without the kids. But I’ve also met so many other WONDERFUL moms along the way (like you!) whom I’d be lost without. We find ways to find our people — and they don’t all have to be next door.June 19, 2015 – 4:05 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Michele – RIGHT!?!?!? The Bahahahah yes! We did know it all when we were pregnant. I kinda miss those days!
      I’m so glad you’ve found a great mom tribe (and agree that “clique” is uglier and less supportive than the word “tribe”) in your hood!
      I’m also so so glad to have met YOU. Here’s to not being next door. And finding community anyway.June 19, 2015 – 10:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - I’m not sure what this says about me, but this is my favorite line of this post: “There’s also the fact that a lot of my neighbors are assholes.’ It made me smile, maybe bc a lot of my neighbors are assholes too. I guess that’s what happens when you live in a suburban town with 1/4 acre lots – there’s bound to be a few assholes mixed in. 🙂 But, I’m off topic as usual. I so get the whole mom clique thing and I also get how tough it can be when you’re feeling like you don’t have a clique where you belong or where you want to belong. I’m glad you found your village – it really helps.June 19, 2015 – 5:33 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Emily,
      That was my favorite line too so it says that you have good taste or something like it 🙂
      I’m glad you’re in MY village. So so much.June 19, 2015 – 10:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Tamara - I’m totally in a few! I have the one from my hospital birth group with Scarlet and it was such a tight and intense situation that I didn’t even bother to make friends when I had Des. Oops. Luckily preschool and daycare have made new ones.
    I’m also part of the kindergarten moms group. We’re very inclusive and open – we only gossip about.. ok… one person.. once… but it’s definitely an awesome feeling to have them.June 19, 2015 – 5:51 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Tamara,
      You’re totally in a few including MY online one and I thank you for that!! I’m glad you have some IRL ones as well and ok of course there is always that *one* right?June 19, 2015 – 11:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah - The special education groups are the best. That’s a silver lining.June 19, 2015 – 7:14 pmReplyCancel

  • Bianca - Hi Kristi
    I’m glad you found your tribe! I too had the impression that I would quickly find my village, based on so many sitcoms & romantic comedies…yeah…no.

    I’ve had a few bad experiences with mom cliques. I was in a mommy & me class on the ritzy side of town & the moms would give me the stink eye when I rolled up in my Honda amongst all their mercedes & BMWs. I thankfully found a few true mom friends in the midst of all these moms I met.

    Sadly, we had to move 5 hours away from them. I’m grateful I can still visit several times a year & that we have Facebook & the phone until we see each other again. However, I’ve been out here for almost a year & I still haven’t met anyone I can call a friend. I have plenty of acquaintances, but no one I click with that much. Ah well.June 19, 2015 – 7:14 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Bianca,
      I joined so many mom groups when my son was tiny! They all SUCKED. I’m sorry that you had to deal with the beotches at the mom clique mercedes circle but so glad you’ve found your tribe now – although sad that they’re so far away!!! I’ll happily be in your tribe?June 19, 2015 – 11:14 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa Moskowitz Sadikman - This is a tough one Kristi. I’ve been in different mommy cliques at different times and with different kids. I found that the ones that truly saved my life were the one or two from when my oldest was firstborn. It came out of our Lamaze class and when I was still too terrified to leave my house after 8 weeks, they coaxed me out, gently and with patience. With my youngest so much younger than my older two, it’s been a challenge to get into the groove with the parents at her preschool, but my post today is actually about that and how grateful I am that they’re there and that they totally dove in and made the year awesome while I was over my head with my oldest’s bat mitzvah and a couple other midlife challenges. I glad you and Tucker have your people there on the ground, day to day. We all need that, for sure 🙂June 19, 2015 – 9:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Lauren - Kristen this is great, thanks! I had such a hard time making friends when I first had kids… I will never forget I had a babysitter once take my kids to the local playground and a mom asked her to join the local mom’s group- something that had NEVER been offered to me after hundreds of playground trips… Thankfully I found my people- and I’m glad you found yours, too!June 19, 2015 – 10:14 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Lauren, I’m so so glad you found your people!!! And that I did too even though it wasn’t where I thought I would.June 19, 2015 – 11:15 pmReplyCancel

  • marcia @ Menopausal Mother - My favorite Mom cliques are the ones on the internet—all my bloggy friends like you!June 19, 2015 – 11:13 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi Campbell - Me too! Although I do have one IRL friend from PAC who is totally awesome. But yeah, other than that, YES!June 19, 2015 – 11:19 pmReplyCancel

  • Sandra - Ah yes, the infamous mommy cliques. I tried and failed because I am fiercely competitive, and would happily watch as my son clobbered other children for the toys at the Mommy&Me groups. I don’t think cliques are thing overall, I wasn’t very good at them in high school either. And yet, I’ve never felt more welcome and more at home as I did and do when I’m with my online friendlies. As for the comment about not seeing your backyard from your kitchen and the neighbours being assholes, well, that had me laughing out loud…give me one dirty word in a post and I focus on that one! Seriously, you are such a gifted writer, I enjoy each and every word.June 20, 2015 – 12:39 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Sandra,
      I tried and failed for three years! Once, I went to this mommy and me playgroup and everybody was really young (and I had my son when I was 40) and they were all talking about how to save money on baby food by making their own (yuck). Online friends are so awesome and supportive! Glad to be able to call you one of mine!
      And yeah, some neighbors around here are total assholes! Thanks so much for your awesome comment!June 20, 2015 – 3:03 pmReplyCancel

  • My Inner Chick - AWWww, YEs, darling.

    I remember a mom saying something like, “Oh, my son is soooooo fabulous and brilliant that I don’t even need to go to his school conference anymore!”

    And I’d be like, “I can’t be your friend!”

    The thing is, it doesn’t change much. Some moms will still say,

    “My son made it into Harvard and Princeton, too, and he’s AWESOME and Smart and pure perfection.”

    And I’m like, “I can’t be your friend!”

    LOOOOVE from MN. xxxJune 20, 2015 – 4:50 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw, KIM!!! I CAN BE YOUR FRIEND. Thank goodness and God and all of the feels. xxooJune 21, 2015 – 10:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana - I have lots of circles of friends, with varying degrees of closeness. I like it that way – too much dependence on one or a few friends tends to lead to problems. For me, friendships have to be easy. Of course you need to work to maintain friendships and make the effort to get together, but if I have to change who I am or how I act…forget it.

    I have been very lucky to meet some awesome women who I get to share this parenting journey with, both online and in person. Very lucky.June 20, 2015 – 8:51 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yes, Dana, to the friendships being easy. Like mine is with you and I am so thankful for that!! Forget changing how we have to act!June 21, 2015 – 10:55 pmReplyCancel

  • Mimi - I loved this Kristi. I’m so glad you’ve found a clique at home, and I’m glad to now count you among my online friends. I understand those feelings you had after having Tucker. I experienced similar things after having my oldest in NYC. My daydreams did not in any way sync with what became my reality. Over the years I’ve had different groups and at this point I’ve found a place where I feel comfortable, but there are still moments of questioning. I think they’re just part of life though. Agree though it’s wonderful to have a village. So glad you are part of my online one. XOJune 20, 2015 – 10:47 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Mimi,
      I’m so glad to know YOU and am thankful that you get it when it comes to the IRL friends and the dreams not synching and all of it. XOXOJune 21, 2015 – 10:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Kirstenjill Hudkins Robbins - Your neighbors are definitely missing out on something awesome. You are a gem and it is their loss. LOVE YOU!!!!June 21, 2015 – 1:37 amReplyCancel

  • Kerri - I think every mom goes through that feeling, where they realize this mommy clique is worse than than the high school cheerleader clique. Rather than becoming one of the sheep, the smart moms steer clear and find their own clique to grow with.

    You, my friend, are one of the smart ones.June 22, 2015 – 2:37 pmReplyCancel

  • Blooming Autism - Well as you know I think you are pretty amazing and I would have been over the moon to be a mummy friend of yours. Your neighbours are losing out! I am approaching 39 soon and I rock up to school and I amsure I am the oldest mum collecting at the Foundations Doors! I am def the oldest mum with a pushchair (18 month son inside waiting for his sister). I don’t fit in with many people for various reasons – age, personality or we are just extremely different in where we are in life. I dont ever feel lonely though because I have wonderful people like you online sharing stories, experiences and truths. All I can say is Than you for sharing your lives with us 🙂 xxJune 22, 2015 – 8:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Rabia Lieber - I’m not sure I’m in a mommy clique, but I do have a few good mommy friends. I have a hard time running into people because I work full time and try not to venture out on the weekends. It takes time to recover from a 40 hour week!June 22, 2015 – 8:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Jen Mahan Golden - So happy to have just found your site — what a wonderful resource for moms of other young children with issues uncertain how to navigate the middle world. I would only add also that Mommy Cliques are way, way overrated. I was lucky enough to find my wonderful gang of “imperfects”, other moms who have walked in my shoes, understand the day to day and long-term struggles and worries, to laugh and cry and rant to, and almost as importantly, to drink wine with. My son was in his middle teens when he found his community of quirky friends and I found kindred spirits. He’s 19 now and wouldn’t trade his journey or mine for anything. I’ll bookmark this come back here often!June 29, 2015 – 2:59 pmReplyCancel

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