“Jennifer, Why do you wish to join the Mommy Consortium?” Her voice boomed over the microphone, which was unnecessary for the small space. Her perfect bobbed hair bounced above her perfect ears. Her clothing was age-appropriate trendy, just tight enough to showcase her perfect breasts which were just big enough to question if they were enhanced.
“ My name is Jessica and I’ve heard that this is the most influential mommy group in the district, and….”
“Why are you wearing all black?” The second Mommy spoke quickly and authoritatively. She could easily have been the African-American twin of the first Mommy. “This is the MidWest, not Manhattan. We wear color!”
“I’m sorry?” The applicant looked from one Mommy to the other in confusion.
“Yes, agreed! Unanimous decision! You don’t fit. NEXT!”
“You heard her! NEXT!” The enforcer Mommy was the opposite of the other two. Short, chunky, wearing clothes that accentuated her rolls and gave the overall impression of an out-of-date washing machine. A large white cube that served a function. She grabbed the applicant’s arm and mis-directed her to the waiting room instead of the exit. The next applicant glanced at Jessica’s face and tiptoed in.
Jessica stood in the waiting room, fury rising in her chest. “What the actual…?” She burst into the interview room spewing profanities in colorful combinations. As she gesticulated, her sweater fell from her shoulder, revealing swirls of colorful tattoos. “Who are you to say I’m not worthy of your crappy little club?”
The perfect Mommy twins sneered in disgust. “The children of this community will be raised to standards. They will be breastfed, they will be vaccinated, they will learn to read before pre-K, and they will participate in sports where everyone wins because we don’t raise losers. They will not defile their bodies with tattoos or dermal piercings or install gages or gauges in their ears or whatever your sick alterna-minds invent.” As she pontificated, the second Mommy was feverishly flipping pages of the Mommy Manifesto.
The second applicant, tears streaming down her face as she realized her chance was waning, stammered, “ I-I couldn’t breastfeed, my baby didn’t latch, I tried, I really did, I wanted to but, but…”
The first Mommy gave her a withering squint. “Oh, that’s so sad. I guess your children will suffer from earaches and stupidity, just like you.”
The washing machine Mommy snatched both applicants’ arms.
“I found it! The second Mommy held the Manifesto high. “ ‘We the founding Mommies of the Mommy Consortiom will not introduce to our children, the precious light of the future, the hope of all humanity, any controversial elements, including, but not limited to, red dyes, caffeine, sugar, nut products, foreign foods (especially BabaGanoush, the consumption of which funds Radical Islam), transfats or gluten.’ We are anti-vax, not pro-vax. If we’re not giving them gluten, why would we give them mercury?”
“Because we don’t want them dead! We are pro-vax! Pro!!” She snatched the manifesto and began skimming.
The washing machine dropped the applicants’ arms and pulled her personal copy of the manifesto from under her shirt, concern oozing from her face. The applicants looked at each other and exitted. “This is insane. I’m not even angry anymore. They’re nuts. By the way, I’m Jessica. Do you want to grab a coffee”
“I’m Becky.” She pushed up her sleeve, revealing a forearm tattoo of a small angel holding a ribbon with a name, as she grabbed Jessica’s outstretched hand. “And I’m thinking wine at my house.”
Becky’s house was antiseptically clean, bearing no trace of occupants. “It never looks like this. I was afraid they would demand home inspection if I passed the interview. I sent my fiancé, the kids and the dogs to his mother’s house.” Both began to laugh at the absurdity of the situation. Tears squished from their scrunched up eyes as they leaned on the furniture, clutching their stomachs, wheezing in short gasps as they released the mix of emotions from being subjectively humiliated by perfect Mommies that didn’t know their fundamental stance on vaccinations. “Vaccinations caused the group to shrivel and die!” “They should have vaccinated against stupidity!”
After a half a box of wine and some processed cheese on crackers, Jessica asked, “Aren’t there any other parenting groups in the area? What do the rejects do?”
“Not much that we can do. The Mommies control every PTO, run every function and afterschool activity. Their kids aren’t allowed to socialize with our kids, and anyone that hopes to join won’t socialize with the stigmatized.”
“So who do the kids play with?”
“No one. They play video games, make crafts, read.”
“Why don’t the rejects start their own group?”
“The group is too powerful. They even control the highschool sports.”
“Maybe not after today- Look!” Jessica showed the Facebook notification. “‘The Mommy Consortium has been temporarily disabled.’ They’re fracturing because they can’t agree on vaccinations. Who knows what other festering issues this exposed?”
“Why do Moms have to judge each other so hard? We’re all on the same team, even if we don’t agree on how to raise our kids. We just want them all to have the best opportunities and lead happy lives.” Becky poured more wine and squirted more cheese-flavored snack on a cracker. “Let’s do it!” Her cheeks flushed from the wine and exhilaration of the idea. “We can call it the Coalition of Reject Moms!”
“Coalition of Reject Parents- lets not exclude anyone. Let’s allow everyone that helps raise our kids join: Dads, grandparents, stepparents.”
“Our manifesto can read ‘They’re your kids! Raise ‘em your way!’”
At the fourth meeting, parents overflowed the couches and tried to get comfortable on the floor. “So are we anti or pro vax?” The washing machine mom shifted from her knees to cross-legged and bumped the man next to her. “Sorry, numb legs”
“Well we better be pro-vax, or I’m leaving. It is completely irresponsible to leave your child unprotected and at risk of infecting my child,” a heated voice called from the corner.
“My child’s medical records are not your business!” someone hollered.
Becky raised her hand to settle the group. “I think you’re missing the point. We’re not here to police each other’s choices. We’re here to support each other, and help each other. It’s not helicopter vs free-range or lawn mower vs tiger. We’re all in it together.”
“Judging other parents doesn’t help. We’re here to set examples for our kids- we need to demonstrate that we can set aside differences and coexist. Dr. Soumayia, I need the recipe for this babaganoush! It’s addictive!”
“Please, just Soumaya. Doctor is for the office. For the record, I am pro-vax, but I cannot force you. I am the pediatrician for many here, so you all know this. But marginalizing only shuts down the conversation. I am always here to answer your questions, as a doctor and a friend. Shouldn’t we be discussing plans for the new accessibility playground? I have ideas for a low sensory area.”
And they all lived happily ever after. The breastfeeding moms clipped coupons for formula. The anti-vaxxers waited to visit babies too young for vaccinations. The children of helicopter parents helped teach caution to the children of free-range parents, the free range kids pushed the copter kids to be daring. And everyone had Dr. Soumayia’s recipe for babaganoush (which she got from recipes.com).