I went once. I’d met her at the park near my neighborhood. She’d invited me for a weekly recurring playgroup. I had one baby and I needed out. I needed a glimmer of something different than “feeding a human from my boob” and “trying to figure out how to actually get baby vomit out of 43 onesies a day” to add to my calendar. I needed to have adult interaction. And I needed to feel separate from my child. Even if he was just on the floor at my feet playing with a toy.
I was introduced to the moms. I couldn’t wait to talk about the Real Housewives. I was seasons behind and was hopeful that someone would fill me in on flipped tables and the drama. I hoped we could discuss how to get a little bit of alone time in this hood of mothers that I’d entered into. I wanted, so badly, to find a friend who would understand how tired I was and why my hair smelled of chunky sour milk. I cracked open my Diet Coke. I set my baby on the floor.
The other moms began talking about how much they loved motherhood. How it was the most fulfilling part of their entire existence. Even more than sleep? I thought to myself. One mom held her child the entire time and said she just couldn’t break herself away. One mom talked about how she sat at her baby’s crib and stared even after he was asleep. One mom started talking about a mom who worked. As the conversation continued, I sat sort of silently realizing that my view of a screaming premie who sometimes seemed to be in need of an exorcism and didn’t know what sleeping was may not exactly fit in with this crowd. It became increasingly clear in a short amount of time that one of us things was not like the others.
And then it began. The Judgy McJudgertons arrived. And it got thick up in that house.
I sipped my Diet Coke and checked the time on the wall. We were about 16 minutes in. Would they notice if I bailed? Would they even miss me if I left? After all, we hadn’t really had the opportunity to get to know one another. But you know who I had gotten to know about? Melissa. The mom who never even tried to breast feed.
Ohhhhh, Melissa. Come on, gals. Melissa isn’t even here to defend herself. Not that she should even have to. Breastfeeding isn’t a one-size-fits-all feeding solution. Some people don’t do it. Some people can’t. Some do. Bim. Bam. Boob. At least that’s what I thought to myself. I didn’t have the balls or the right amount of sleep under my eyes to even really put together a focused thought. But I wanted to speak for Melissa! But I drank my Diet Coke.
Once we got done with the Breastfeeding judgment, I began talking about wanting to travel with my husband. Oh, wow. I know a couple who travels constantly. And they don’t take their baby with them. I mean, how could you do that? How could you leave your baby out of those memories? one mom stated.
I seriously wanted to take my ball and go home. But instead, I said, “I guess I’d never thought of that.” Which, of course resulted in me being told all about Jessica and Ken who travel and neglect their parenting responsibilities.
Oh sheesh. Mayday! Mayday! Could someone point me to the Exit Rows again? I needed to get off this flight.
I took another gulp of my Diet Coke only to realize I’d already dominated it. Was I sweating? Was I leaking? Was my baby’s diaper dirty? Did my husband just call and need me to come home for a nooner? Was my imaginary cat in need of a walk? What excuse could I use? I needed to bail.
And then onto youth sports and whether or not it was right that Hillary is letting her son play football. Errrrm… I haven’t even thought about youth sports, my kid doesn’t have teeth yet, I thought. But I didn’t dare say it and suffer the same fate that Hillary was at the moment. Even though she wasn’t there to feel it.
Then onto Bob and Rachel’s marriage. The fact that Michelle has a cleaning lady. And gasp! Jamie didn’t even have her 2-year-old in Mom’s Day Out or preschool.
I stayed for the rest of the time as these women picked apart all their “friends.” I felt as if they left no stone unturned. And finally it had been two hours and people started to talk about gathering items to get home for tummy time and naps. I’d made it!!
As I walked out the door, we exchanged pleasantries. We talked of getting together next week. Even though I knew that wasn’t gonna happen. And I walked to my car and told my baby that mama didn’t need mom friends. I just needed my type of friends.
I decided from then on out that if I was going to hang with other women post-baby, it would have to be women I love. And women who I feel I can be myself with. Women who didn’t feel like a threat to my mothering ways or my spirit. Because getting out isn’t worth it if, in the end, you feel like someone just emptied your entire tank of good energy. And took a big gossip crap on everyone and their dog.
So yes. I quit the playgroup. It just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t how I wanted to spend my time. And when you are a new mom, or really, a woman at any phase, you owe it to yourself to be around people who make you feel better about the world, not worse.
I’m guessing that at least for the first few weeks following, they sat around talking about me. While I sat home watching Real Housewives. We were both spending our time in our own type of joy.
Overall, I call that a win.