Mean Girls: A Single Mom Tries To Help Her Daughter Cope

Photo courtesy of "PictureYouth"

Photo courtesy of "PictureYouth"

By Darlene Vanasco

Yesterday, I got a text from daughter while she was on her three-girl-sleepover  hang-out.

“It’s annoying when everything your friend does has to be better than you.”

I text: “Hells yes.”

She texts: “She does all this stuff, can afford whatever, does all these  programs because she can afford it. I just don’t like being the broke girl with  divorced parents.”

I read this and my heart sinks. My heart sinks because I KNOW.

I know.

I text: “I know. It must be hard. Honestly, I don’t like being the broke divorced  mom either. I am sorry, honey. I wish it were different. Try to see what you DO  have… like a loving brother.”

She texts: “Yeah. But it’s different for me though. Whenever we talk about  anything it’s all horseback riding and I was on a national gymnastics team and I have  a beach house, etc. etc.”
I text: “Try not to compare. I know when I compare I feel miserable.”


Yes, she really texts that.

I text: “Talk about your singing, your writing, your stories, your grades. You are  great from the inside out. Not the other way around. If she won’t shut the F up, she  needs to hear herself, know what I am saying?”

She texts: “She has amazing grades, she THINKS she is a good writer, she has  money and parents who are married. What else does she need?”

I text: “Apparently to shut up and learn some humility.”


She texts: “If my self-esteem were any lower than it is right now, it would be

20,000 leagues under the sea.”

I put the iPhone down. I sit, remembering all the triangulation between  teenage girlfriends growing up. All the betrayal, mistrust and humiliation. But  mostly the exclusion.

Who is “in” today. Who is “out.”

This is the thing girls do to gain control of one another. While the boys fight it  out after school, we are busy leaving each other out.

Before long, daughter arrives home. And she starts talking. First slowly, but in a  very short time the dam bursts.

She says, “We were skating and “M” and “S” were always skating together,  holding hands and every time I came up and tried to hold hands and skate they  would skate away, or tell me, ‘Oh it’s too hard to skate in threes’ or something. It just  kept happening and they were all acting like it was me making it up but they were  really doing it!”

She is crying now. “They kept saying, ‘What’s the matter with you anyway?’  and I tried to talk to them and they were just like ‘ok…’ and walked away. I was  just standing there by myself. It was horrible!”

I hug her. All her black eyeliner in running down her face. I pet her head.

The she says, “And “M” just thinks she is the best at everything. It makes me so sick!”

Now she is REALLY crying. Big crocodile tears. I keep listening. I hold in all  my mama revenge thoughts.

“It sounds really hard honey. It reminds me of when I was growing up. Girls  would leave each other out, write mean things on the bathroom wall…”

“They still do that!” she says.

“I bet.” I say.

She pauses.

“Mom. When we were on the train they kept walking away. They would be in  one spot together. Then when I came over they would move!”

“Whoa!” I say. “You know though, that kind of stuff is not about you. You are just  the convenient target for their control issue.”

But I can feel the humiliation. I want so bad to solve it all for her. But I know  I cannot.

She cries in my arms. We talk about growing up female. We talk about friends

and middle school and high school. Soon she is wiping her eyes and making Goth

girl eyeliner jokes.

After a while she gets up and goes about her business. I sit on the floor and think.

I hope I have been a good listener. I know there are two sides to every story, but  I want to tell daughter to never, ever, ever, never hang out with those two girls  again.

I know this day in her life has left a mark.

I hope it is a learning mark.


DarleneDarlene is a teacher-mother-designer-writer who is recently transplanted  to Philadelphia from Brooklyn. Her writings on mothering and growing up  female emerged as a sanity-saving device and productive alternative to crying  on the kitchen floor. She can be found at or you can  read the antidotal stories of insanity, reality and progress on her blog: