If there's one thing I abhor it's the mothering gaggle instinct.
You know it. You've seen it multiple times. You've probably been at the sharp end of it. It's that herd mentality exhibited in playgrounds all over the Western world, where the different mothering tribes crowd together to rain down disapproval of those who don't share in their ethics/ religion/ postal or zip code/ salary bracket. I guess they also get together to have fun, chat about their offspring and gossip about the teaching faculty, possibly even to share cookie recipes, but in my experience the majority of gaggles thrive on some form of bitchiness and a self-affirming sense of manufactured superiority.
I avoid gaggles like the plague. They're a breeding ground for collective hysteria and a petri dish of small-mindedness which fosters the sort of behaviour dramatised by Arthur Miller in The Crucible. Perfectly normal, sane and intelligent women go to pieces when they fall under the power of a gaggle, shedding their usual sense of charity and self-respect without a second thought. I've seen it and let me tell you, it's scary.
It's not that I don't speak to other mothers at the school gates - I do. I help out in class when given the opportunity. I go to class coffee mornings and all the other events that come with mommy territory. I've even made a number of good friends through school - but they've always been outside of the context of the gaggle. My attitude is that life's too short and too valuable to spend on being bitchy.
Surely we can all be big enough not to be threatened by someone who isn't practically an identikit version of ourselves? Embracing diversity of all kinds (big and small) should be something we all strive towards.
Down with the gaggle. Bring back good old fashioned individualism and a sense of charity. And if that's too much to ask for, at the very least, remember that it's nice to be nice.