Mothering comes in many styles. Most of us have a little bit of a few styles. Here are 13 stereotypical mom figures.
This mother sashays into school every morning looking like a Vogue model, and as you eye her enviously from your car window – you are NOT getting out until she’s swanned off again – you can find not a hair out of place. She’s impeccably groomed. Not even a spot of playground mud on those gorgeous patent leather pumps! How does she do it, every morning? Scratch beneath the make-up and you’ll likely find a shopaholic, with lots of time and money to shop for clothes and shoes, with stops at the dry cleaners, hairdresser and nail salon inbetween. Wake up time is a good hour before most mothers, to put it all together.
A walking advert for Nike, this mom arrives at school with a brisk trot and a healthy shine on her brow, having run through suburbia before breakfast. Later you’ll see her in a fresh change of neon-coloured tank and sweatpants, lifting the schoolbags into the boot herself. She’s generally in a hurry – her kids have an after school sports regime too – but if she has time to chat, it’ll be about her family’s plans for the upcoming Dusi canoe marathon, Argus Cycle Tour, 702 Walk the Talk or Pink Drive fun run. Gym and keeping fit are non-negotiables in her life, along with a fridge full of super-healthy food and supplements tailored to each member of the family.
The opposite of glamour mom, slobby mom has most of her hair out of place, doesn’t have a scrap of make-up on her face and favours a threadbare T-shirt over faded leggings. Why dress up for the school run, she reasons, but then feels like a dirty-nailed miscreant after spotting glamour mom, gym mom and perfectionist mom chatting animatedly at the gate. She resolves to make more of an effort in future, but all that melts away next morning in the rush to pack lunch, find the other white sock and dig around under the bed for the missing school shoe. In winter, her Crocs are exchanged for Ugg copies.
She’s teacher’s pet, for good reason. PTA mom never misses a parent-teacher meeting at school, even if it’s at 8pm on a Friday, and is first the volunteer for fund-raising projects or give her considered input to plans to expand the sports grounds. She contributes regularly to the school newsletter and diligently sends out e-mails to the other parents about everything from chess schedules to costume requirements. There’s never a missing form in PTA mom’s house. She knows what’s happening, and when, better than teacher, and if she doesn’t, she’ll be in early to find out. When you chat to her, PTA mom sounds as though she’s the one getting through the year, not her child.
The first sound that earth mom’s kids heard was whale song. And when they were born, naturally she breastfed them – and then continued to do so for much longer than you or anyone else, so don’t even go there. She’s always making nutritious salads with organic veggies, and knows a herbal remedy for any malady you can think of. The family is fed on “treats” like linseed or hemp powder smoothies. Like mom, her kids avert their eyes from the big M of McDonald’s like it’s a swastika. Earth mom and her kids wear organic cotton, washed with chemical-free soap, and recycle everything including old leather sandals. But she harbours a dirty secret … occasionally gorging on a packet of Ghost Pops.
She’s ever ready with a meal, snack or “something to keep you going”. You probably knew a mom like this growing up, if not yours, then a friend’s. Her instinct was to feed you, assuming you to be malnourished. Dipping into your friend’s lunch box was fun, you have to admit, and when you visited them, the waft of fresh baking did perk up your appetite. But after a home-made lasagna, followed by a piece of that yummy cake, you just want to hang out with your friend and not be disturbed by her perpetual production line of food.
BEST FRIEND MOM
This is the mom that wants to be a friend rather than a parent. Discipline was an unknown concept when her kids were small, so they were brats. Now best friend mom and her daughter like to borrow each other’s clothes and advise on each other’s style choices. They BBM and WhatsApp throughout the day to discuss all life’s little decisions and personal stuff, too. Best friend mom is her daughter’s first port of call when she has boyfriend blues, and go-to girl when she’s choosing her first lounge suite. All well and good, except when best friend mom takes to going along with her daughter on nights out with people her own age and, worse, begins behaving like them.
The most infuriating kind, the know-it-all mom can be a stay-at-home mom or one who works. Whatever you are, she’s the opposite and will criticise you for your choices and parenting style. She starts many a sentence with “It’s none of my business, but...” She picks fault over what you feed your kids, how you clothe them, how much TV they get to watch, etc, etc. She watches your child like a hawk to pick up parenting faults, and you’ll hear all about them when you arrive to fetch. And while she’s dutifully chastising you about forgetting to pack a jersey, her own kid is uploading less-than-innocent Instagrams and sending them to his friends.
Perfectionist mom is a Type-A personality. She is an expert at doing French plaits, tying shoelaces, sewing buttons, ironing on labels, covering books and making sandwiches. And if she isn’t an expert at something yet, she soon will be as she is fastidious about research. Appearance is everything for the perfectionist mom, and she thrives on control – spontaneity induces anxiety and fear. Her children are top achievers – she assiduously monitors their homework – and if they falter, they show the same anxiety symptoms as mom when things aren’t going, well, perfectly.
Martyr mom lives for her kids, and her needs always come last. She sees her role as removing stress from her child’s life, and that means regular run-ins with the school over “too much homework”, an “aggressive teacher”, an “unfair coach”. Martyr mom didn’t go on holiday for two years after her daughter was born, as it would disrupt her baby’s sleep patterns. Far from relaxing on the couch once the kids are asleep, she’s cleaning the kitchen or fixing a tunic hem. Martyr mom complains, “I have to do everything”, which is true because she chooses it this way. But shielding her kids from 21st-century living and all the challenges that come with it does them no favours as sooner or later, they’ll have to learn to navigate the world themselves.
AB FAB MOM
This is the mother who refuses to grow up, like Edina Monsoon in Absolutely Fabulous, chasing every trend and fad in order to appear “hip” and young. Her children often say things like, “Haven’t you had enough?” or “Mom, fix your lipstick”.
Ab Fab mom dresses flamboyantly, wears big earrings and is the first to suggest champagne instead of tea at family fun day. She can get loudly verbal in banks, car parks and government offices, to the embarrassment of her child, who also scorns her collection of eccentric friends. “If only mom could be like the other mothers,” her daughter often thinks. Luckily for Ab Fab mom, her children will grow to appreciate her maverick ways.
Competitive mom is recognisable as the mother with the loudest voice on the soccer benches, and at the swimming gala she works it up to a frenzied yelling. She tries to ferret out your kid’s test marks, to ensure her child has done better, and secretly resents any child who scores higher than hers. Competitive mom is actually projecting her own ambitions, and feels the glow of winning as though the award is hers. At best, competitive mom is pushy, at worst she ends up competing with her own child. You’ve heard the mom who exclaims, “Well done, my darling”, followed by a litany of her own exceptional achievements in the same discipline.
Ooh, you really feel sorry for the children of Tiger Mom. Every experience they have has to be a learning one, and achievement is their only goal. Their work really begins when they get home from school, from learning another language to playing a musical instrument. Think the world’s strictest mom and you have the picture. The term “tiger mom” was coined by Amy Chua in the controversial book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. She wrote that she raised her daughters with unbending rules that they had to come first in every class and couldn’t get less than “A” grades. There were no playdates, no TV, no video games, no sleepovers. Since then Chua has said she wasn’t as tough as she claimed in the book, but we all know at least one boot-camp parent.