Is there a Moms Mafia in your nieghborood?

I recently became acquainted with a couple who live here in Walnut Creek, in a nice house along a nice street. Their kids go to a neighborhood public school. The couple do well enough in business that they can be generous when it comes to donating auction items to school fundraisers. They volunteer in the school, and open their home to neighborhood block parties.

The  like being good neighbors, good members of the community. Despite this, the husband, whom I’ll call Joe, says he and his family aren’t accepted by a neighborhood contingent whom he has labeled the Mom Mafia.

He’s not sure why, and the cold shoulder hurts his wife more. The women in the Moms Mafia have husbands who pull in good incomes. Their job is raising the kids, and shuttling them from to school and playdates, sports practices and dance or music lessons. These Moms enjoy moms’ lunches at Va de Vi or the Neiman Marcus cafe. They dress nicely but casually, favoring Ugg boots on cold days and strappy, shiny sandals in warm weather. They always have their toenails painted, their legs and eyebrows waxed, and their highlights up to date. They go off on moms’ ski weekends, and spend their summers at the local community pool, overseeing their kids’ swim practices and parent cocktail parties.

There are probably some pool parties where the parents, busy with drinking and schmoozing, have left the older kids to look after the younger ones. It would be even more John Updike if there was some wife-swapping going on. I guess if one of these women were doing it with the contractor remodeling her master bath suite, we might have a plot line for a show like Desperate Housewives.

When my son was going through elementary school, there was a group of moms, some of the stay-at home variety, who were very involved in school functions. They seemed pretty tight knit. They, too, spent their summers at their local swim club, and I heard once how they all bid together on one auction item that had them and their husbands go on a fun-filled grownup scavenger hunt downtown.  When I was asked to volunteer to help with the school auction, I jokingly said to my husband, “Wow, I’ve been asked to join the popular crowd.”

My snarky remark was a bit harsh and unfair. The women I dealt with while my son was going through school were all generally nice, intelligent and welcoming. They rallied to help the family of one mom who was battling breast cancer. They shared their own struggles if we got to chatting at soccer games. I never got the sense of any backstabbing, or any high school-kind of popularity ploys going on — not like the games being played by the Mafia Moms of Joe’s acquaintance.

I don’t understand why there are some adults — both women and their husbands — living the good life in suburbia who feel the need to replay high school. These women all sound like the popularity queens who ruled their high school in the 1988 teen cult film, Heathers.

I recently watched the Winona Ryder/Christian Slater film again, in which the three popular girls are all named Heather and plot to terrorize classmates, like the quiet overweight girl who eats lunch in the cafeteria alone. Things don’t end well for the Heathers.  Maybe the Moms Mafia should take note.

10 thoughts on “Is there a Moms Mafia in your nieghborood?

  1. Absolutely! You nailed the phenomenon. I have no idea why it exists, and my friends claim that there must be “something in the water.” I live on a dead end street in Walnut Creek. I am the only single woman in her mid-40s without children. I am also living life in a wheelchair. Half of the street is fabulous. The ones my age? Absolutely horrible. The gossip, lies and hateful behavior is hurtful– a lot like junior high! And, it trickles down to their children, to the point where I am harassed for being in the wheelchair and my service dog was reported as “vicious” (still can't figure this one out– she has never bitten anyone, and she saves my life, daily…) All I can do is stay focused on the good in my life, and the wonderfully supportive neighbors who have decided to reach out and accept someone who is “different.”


  2. You nailed it! I was a stay at home mom, but a “young” mom by the standards in this area, and while I chose to stay home with the kids, we didn't have that high life, like the vast majority in WC have. I remember even in the late 80's, when we moved here, through the 90's when my kids were growing up, I saw that mentality all the time. The UGG wearing, perfectly polished nails, and OMG the community pool thing!!! While I love WC, this aspect of it I do not.
    I have never really fit in, and I think truth be told, we fit more in Berkeley.
    I saw a lot of this in school also, when the moms would gang up and form a club of sorts. I never wanted to be a part of that, so stayed clear.
    I don't think high school ever ends!!!


  3. Elizabeth, here's to those of us who don't fit in the popular crowd! I always thought it was a lie that the social aspects of school — especially of high school — prepared kids to navigate the culture of the real world. I mean, once you get into college and into the work world, the popularity thing isn't supposed to matter. And, actually, it never did in college or at work. But back in the neighborhood and around our kids schools, it does. Apparently.


  4. When in W.C. my wife takes part in various mums group activities as the little uns need some interction whilst we are away from our English enviroment. My wife enjoys the activities although she has noticed that the womwn involved are alot more competative than their English equivalents,I think my wife is tolerated as being Anglo Chinese she is of some novelty value…thats why I keep her around (I'm dead if she reads this ha!)


  5. I remember being moved from one third-grade class to another because my family was not in the popular crowd. We soon thereafter left segregationist south Alabama in the late 1950s for Seattle. I would never want to change that outcome!


  6. Nicely said, Martha. I love my neighborhood and the schools, but I see that high school stuff, too. There is a contingent that parties on the street. I can't party like they do. Seriously. I stopped drinking to get drunk when I was 17. I'm not fun like that.

    Now I'm 41. I know who I am. I deal with people one on one. That is how I'm most effective. I will never be part of the Momma mafia, but if I was, I would probably spend all my time figuring how to get out of it. I'm an introvert. Parties exhaust me.


  7. Yes, there is a 'Mommy Mafia' group in my WC neighborhood. Those of us that are not moms and have full time careers are left out of the 'girl' activities, then when we hang out with the husbands since we aren't part of the 'MM' group, (and probably have more in common with the guys) we get into even more 'hot water' with the MM which makes it even more unlikely that we will be included. Fortunately for me, I learned to ignore this type of behavior in Junior High.


  8. In our neighborhood it's the home-owners shutting out the renters, even though some renters have been here longer than the owners. Most of my friends are still in Oakland/San Francisco. I make individual friends here in Walnut Creek, but try not to become part of a group, where conversations tend to be very “me-centric.” Or “my-kid-centric,” which is another form of “me-centric” and therefore even more disturbing.


  9. Very late to the party here because I am just seeing this, but this article is on point. I am posting anonymously because my kids are still in elementary school and I do not want to burn any bridges. But yes, this very much exists at my kids' school. We moved to Walnut Creek shortly before my oldest started school. As a person who has always found it difficult to make friends, I was disappointed oldest I realized that the mom cliques didn't seem to have room for one more. I spent a lot of time feeling bad about this and wondering how I fell short of their standards. I should say, nobody was outright mean; they just made it very clear they weren't interested in expanding their circle by keeping to themselves and quietly (but politely) shutting down my invitations to get coffee or set up play dates for our kids. I have since found a few good friends who have more in common with me anyway, but it still stings a little that I will never be accepted as part of this group.


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