Warning: naughty language ahead!
Here we go again, other mom in the “mom group” of my daughter’s circle of friends.
Having our coffee, and gabbing away are we?
I hear you non-stop talking about your kids and how awesome they are at everything. And I hear you talk about all your cool stuff. You talk in a way that sounds humble, but it actually isn’t. You “slip” stuff into our conversations as sly as can be.
Oh, I hear you loud and clear.
And it’s driving me kind of crazy. Dare I say it’s driving us all crazy? It’s rubbing us the wrong way, sister.
We know what you’re doing. You’re a Humble Bragger. You’re pretending to be modest while tossing in a few details about your little darling’s latest achievements. On Facebook, and in person. To anyone within earshot. What you say is covered in sugar and spice, and everything nice. And it never stops.
“Proud mommy moment—Josh got his SAT scores back!” you begin with a beaming smile.
Yup, we get it. You’re proud. Somehow your special, expert mothering helped him succeed.
“I don’t mean to brag, sorry, but I’m so excited, I just have to tell someone!” you exclaim, breathlessly.
Yes you do mean it. You do mean to brag. And we know you think it might be annoying because you always throw a “sorry” into your sentences somewhere.
“Ava’s $200 designer dress for the dance was almost ruined! I saw the cat eyeing it this morning…good thing I was there to shoo him out of her room!” Honey, this just your way of telling us you paid $200 for a designer dress.
And we see your posted “selfie” in your messy, but brand spanking new kitchen. The caption reads, “OMG—my house is such a mess—I can’t take it!” You’re showing us your incredible kitchen, sweetie.
And God damn it, it is nice.
With squinted, cynical eyes, we see right through you, Humble Bragger.
You subtly tell us how blessed your life is while undercutting it with a bit of self-effacing humor.
I can’t say this to your face, of course, because it would mess up the friendship dynamic between all of us and our kids for years to come. It’s not like you would take my comments constructively anyway, so I’m just not going there.
But, I can say it here.
Your constant humble bragging is creating miles of distance between you and me, and us, and you don’t even realize it. If you want to keep your friends, you need to give your humble bragging a damn rest. Please.
Obviously a little bragging is okay. We all love our little cherubs—and we are all proud of their many moments of greatness! Between friends and family, it’s wonderful to share our kid stories—but constantly? Enough is enough already.
The other day, when you humble-bragged your way through two hours at the park, and we had to hear about Josh’s latest straight A report card, you didn’t notice my slight grimace. You know my Joey? Well, he struggles in school. He works really goddamn hard, and he does just as much as Josh, if not more, but he’ll always be a solid B-student. Am I proud of him? You bet your ass I am! Is your kid’s accomplishment brag-worthy because he was somehow blessed with a brain that processes information in a way that shows up on a report card? No, it’s not.
Maybe I’m just jealous. Maybe not. I don’t know. But, at least I’m self-aware enough to question my eye rolling reaction and work on it a little.
All I’m saying is that for our friendship to continue, it’s important for you to actually be sensitive, and aware, too. I’m happy for Josh, I really am. I think it’s great. But, I have enough shit to deal with during my day, and I don’t have the time or the energy to feel like I’m competing with you over whose kid did better on a test. It’s just not right, Humble Bragger. So, stop.
Excessive bragging, especially if it’s passive, is a sign of mom insecurity. I want you to know that your kid’s achievements and your family’s lifestyle do not validate you as a mother or a person.
I just want you to keep it real with me, Humble Bragger. You are misreading the effects of your self-promotion. You are overestimating the positive responses and underestimating the negative ones.
Our kid’s accomplishments are theirs. Do we play a big role in how well they turn out? Of course we do! But their grades and their gifts are most often a reflection of them, not us. It’s empowering for all of us to realize this early on in our parenting journeys.
We like you, and your kids are cute and nice. When you aren’t talking about how great they are all the time, you’re actually a very cool lady. But the humble bragging is wearing us down. Pretty soon, we’ll steer clear of you, and by default, we’ll steer clear of your kids. And you’ll scratch your head a bit and wonder what happened.
You want us to believe that having an accomplished kid somehow means you are doing it right. And you probably are doing a lot of things right. Go, you! But bragging incessantly about them is about your insecurities, not their successes.
Here’s what I really want to say:
We love your messy parts. We have them too. We love it when you are real. No child or parent or life is perfect. We don’t need to convince ourselves that we are good moms by slipping our kids’ achievements into every conversation. There’s more to mom friendship than that.
Aren’t Ava and Josh ever assholes like my kids are sometimes?
We like to talk about our kids. That is certainly part of bonding. But it’s important to ask ourselves some big questions before we do it: Am I bragging again? And if I’m indeed bragging, who is it serving—myself or my child?
Author: Kimberly Valzania
Editor: Catherine Monkman