I accidentally joined a mom’s group.
I began attending a breastfeeding support group regularly. Liam was about two months old. I passed it off as wanting to socialize Liam, but secretly I was desperate for adult companionship. I feared being assimilated into their twin set wearing collective, but the promise of a two sided conversation was just too tempting to resist. Ok, they didn’t wear twin sets. They wore yoga pants.
My husband has a pet peeve involving people wearing sweats out of the house. He says it just looks like you gave up on life. Yoga pants say “I’ve given up on life, I just don’t want to admit it yet.” Sweats clearly clue the world in to the fact you haven’t showered in three days. When you arrive greasy-haired, reeking of B.O. and wearing yoga pants, you believe there is the possibility that people will think you’ve just came from working out. Don’t fool yourself. They know. They know.
It is actually worse than you might have imagined. I didn’t get dragged kicking and screaming into their group, forced at gunpoint to debate co-sleeping and exchange latch techniques. I sought them out like a redneck looking for the last Bud Light in the cooler.
Being a stay at home mom was the most joyfilled time of my life. It was also the loneliest. I was not prepared for the isolation. I assumed if I wanted to go somewhere, I simply put Liam in his carseat and went. The main problem with this is the cardinal rule of parenting: you don’t fuck with the nap schedule. I adhere to the nap schedule as if it is the countdown for a shuttle launch. I understand if I skip the morning nap so that I can have brunch with my friends, I will spend the rest of the afternoon dealing with a screaming, exhausted child who refuses to take a nap. I generally do not make a lot of phone calls for the same reason. I don’t dare chance that my voice might carry to his room and wake the beast from his slumber.
The days began to run together. Without work, there was no real promise of a weekend. Since I was hardly sleeping, it all began to feel like one long day. The days were a strange mix of monotony and power mood swings. I picked up and put away the same toys at least ten times a day. I was constantly vacuuming up crumbs from Puffs that somehow escaped the mouth and landed underfoot. But within that repetition were these intense highs and lows. I felt pushed to my emotional extremes on a daily basis. One moment, I burst out in ecstatic tears as Liam learned to roll over. The next, I was struggling to maintain any semblance of composure when he cried for forty five minutes and refused any type of comfort. It was too much. I needed some sort of adult companionship, people who were forced to adhere to the same strict schedule and rules that I was. People who knew what it was like to be completely in love and completely frustrated at the same time.
I had been attending the breastfeeding support group for a couple of months. We met once a week at a hospital building. The purpose of the group was to support new mothers with breastfeeding, but really all matters relating to babies were discussed. At the meetings, we did a round robin. Each mother introduced herself and her child, told how her week was going, and then asked any questions she had. I repeatedly described how lonely I was. I explained how most of my friends did not have kids and thus had trouble relating to my current struggles. Describing my days as endless hours at home with only a young baby for companionship, I was hoping that someone would feel similarly and suggest that we get together.
I have never been good at socializing. That is not exactly true. Once I know you, I will gab to you as if we were separated at birth. It is the whole dance of meeting new people that eludes me. I am not good at small talk. Perhaps it is my large tattoos, but rather than appearing as timid, which I am, I come across as cold, which I hope I am not.
One particular week, a new mom, Kay, showed up and sat next to me. She had a week old son, Jack, and I commented on how beautiful he was and what a cute outfit he had on. Having several months to practice, I was getting better at this small talk thing. On the other side of Kay sat my soon to be competition, Lexie.
Lexie, like me, was seeking friendship outside of the group. She had just moved to town and didn’t know anyone. She had a daughter, Audree, that was a couple of months younger than Liam. However, Lexie was motivated. Instead of just coming to group and weakly complaining about how lonely she was while wearing a long faced expression, she suggested a playgroup. She more than suggested it- she brought fliers!
I had given my phone number to Lexie the week before, and she had never called. She happily presented Kay with a flier, and then gave one to me, almost as an afterthought. Well, afterthought or not, I was going to that playgroup. I was over Lexie, but I was not going to let her steal the attentions of this new mom. Oh no. At this point, I would have hung out with Typhoid Mary if it meant I would get the chance to speak in full sentences, so I was not about to let a little competition from Lexie deter me.
I gave my contact information to Kay and was happily rewarded when she in turn, gave hers to me. No more sitting by the computer waiting for my inbox to change to (1). I could contact her. I should contact her! That would be the friendly thing to do.
I felt like a fifteen year old boy trying to navigate the world of dating. Do I call her? Do I email her? How long do I have to wait before calling her? I waited three days, and then dialed her number. As the phone was ringing, I internally practiced talking in a breezy manner, so as not to sound like a would-be kidnapper trying to lure her back to my van.
I must have at least partially succeeded in sounding casual, because we chatted for a few minutes and then agreed that we’d both go the playgroup at Lexie’s. Two days later, I showed up precisely at the designated time. I was sitting on Lexie’s couch, cooing at Liam and Audree, when Kay arrived. She had brownies with her. D’oh! New to this playgroup ritual, I was not privy to an offering of baked goods being customary.
The three of us began to talk, and it turns out I was not the only one in need of adult conversation. We were different ages, from different backgrounds, but we all had one thing in common. We were new at this mommy gig and required some backup. I learned from Lexie that it’s not enough to just complain and hope that someone comes to your rescue. You have to make fliers.