I heard all about the benefits of mommy meetup groups, but I wanted to see what they were all about. Here's my experience.
After I had Judah (boy #2), I was experiencing what I didn’t know was postpartum depression. I was in this frenzy of trying to find something and be part of something because I was ready to jump back into normal, not-being-pregnant interactions. I wanted to possibly find other people who felt like I did, who had kids, who would understand my position, who I could understand too and possibly find some friendships with people I had things in common with. I was friendship dating.
I was ready to shake things up, add things to my already busy life, trying to distract myself from the chaos that was raising two under two, while working full time. I was trying to create another circle in my life that had little to no bandwidth, emotionally or physically. It was another distraction. And distractions are the things I seek when something else is wrong, depression, anxiety, etc.
So I joined a Moms Who Work Meetup. It had been a while since my Chamber of Commerce days, so I thought utilizing this social media tool would be a better experience, somehow. Oh, optimism. So I signed up. Our first meetup was planned. It was an excursion for all the moms to get together with their little ones on a Saturday morning, at a place called Tiny Town. A place where replicas of famous buildings were built large enough for small children to walk through them like giants, small enough for parents not to be able to get in there and drag the little fuckers out when it was time to go.
There was a train, there was a park, it was fine. Considering the last meetup I planned was with some event planners who stood me up, I wasn’t feeling optimistic that anyone would show up and I asked my husband to escort me with the two boys. I started looking around for people for the meetup, introductions happened (I admitted to bringing my husband along. I think head mom (this is how I will refer to her) thought this to be a faux pas, but I didn’t care. I remember some awkwardness while I followed my almost 2-year-old around, with the other moms doing the very same (my husband had our six month old, and had started carrying him in the diaper bag).
These moms had met before and I was the newbie and that's a lot of pressure. It always has been. Who was I? Who was I going to be to them? Who was I going to be with them? Would we get along? Would I feel like I belonged? Would I hate them? Would they hate me? What was the hierarchy like? Would I be the youngest? The oldest? Would we have anything in common? So yeah. This is why I have problems with people.
There were tiny buildings. Tiny people. Lots of chasing of the offspring around the miniature buildings, awkwardly acknowledging those I thought were in the group and those who I believed to be their children...oh, and taking pictures. Maybe pretending to be taking interesting pictures with my new camera so that I could interact at will, or not at all.
We all ended up at the playground, chasing our kids around some more. I sat next to the head mom and we talked. Nothing really that interesting, maybe her being on some kind of new diet, maybe childcare, maybe about the deliveries of our children, not enough to cement anything between us at that particular moment - we had just met, after all. I think I remember talking about my husband being an attorney, and head mom was also an attorney, and from Florida like my husband, so it seemed like maybe, I had procured our family a new family friend - somebody Rick could have something in common with, but was also a working mom like me! Look at my knack for finding attorney friends, I must be smart!
Later, we decided to take the kids onto the miniature train ride with all of our boys, hooray, something in common other than that we were moms who worked! So we bought our tickets for the train. There was a long line and it was freaking hot, but I was able to distract myself with my child so that I didn’t have to talk.
Then, we made it to the front of the line! Woohoo! The experience we had waited for all that (awkward) time (for me, anyway). Most of the moms had made it onto the train before I got on. There was some monetary confrontation with the conductor - a cranky old man who was just trying to do his job taking tickets and driving the Tiny Town Train. He wanted us to pay for the tickets for our kids, and Head Mom didn’t want to. I don’t remember what happened, but I do remember I felt like I was the recipient of a judgey look for paying extra for a ticket I “shouldn’t” have paid for. The other moms stood strong and did not pay for what the old man was demanding, like some troop of like-minded Wonder Women. It just wasn’t worth it for me (money never is), and I got the “you’re way too nice” comment from said head mom, a comment which has always felt judgey to me. Like, my bitchy never comes out at the right time, when other people are bitchy and are looking for cohesion in the group to validate their cause. It’s always over things that aren’t money related, so when my bitchy does come out, I just look like a psycho, and it’s usually completely alone, when nobody else has the same problem.. and if they do, they don’t say it.
We took the train ride. Save for the ride being between the side of a mountain and a good-sized, deep, rushing creek, it was lovely (years before that train had actually derailed. Literally. The headline was “Tiny Town Train Derails” or something to that effect). Later, we all hung out afterwards to chat (enough to get along, again, not really enough to solidify any kind of bond). I think one of the kids was melting down(?) so one of the moms had to go. My husband took a picture of us all, and I invited them all to my son’s birthday party, because that’s me. I’m secretly a three-year-old who loves everybody and wants everybody at their parties, whether or not I really know them. And if you’re not invited, it’s either that I forgot, or it’s definitely on purpose. Anyway. I love people until they break my little three-year-old heart and I hate them forever and never invite them to another birthday party again! Until they’re nice to me again and we’re cool. Yes.
Flash forward to the next week, a few of the moms came to my son’s birthday party, which was great, including Head Mom! The boys played, so that was fine. I may or may not have been drunk by the time the moms showed up (I was sober when the first one showed up, just not the second, who happened to be Head Mom). I am not an angry or sloppy drunk, I’m the love child of Mary Poppins and The Nutty Professor, according to science. So I’m not even scary, unless you think Mary Poppins and or The Nutty Professor and their love child would be scary.
Sam was running around without shoes or pants at some point. I just didn’t feel the need to be alarmed because we were in the comfort of our own home, with our friends and family, so I let him run loose. Somebody’s always not wearing pants or shoes when you have two under two. Or just two fucking exhausted grown adults.
I remember distinctly Head Mom from the Mommy meetup saying something about how she wished she could have been as relaxed as I was. And maybe I took it the wrong way. Which I could have, because I’m a great inventor of paranoias. Especially when it comes to other females. I laughed it off with a “yeah, I trust my friends and family enough to watch out for him and keep him from dying…” I thought I received a few laughs, but you never know with my sarcasm. Sometimes it just doesn’t twirl your skirt.
I don’t quite remember how that was received. Our interactions were pretty limited after that. I do remember her husband looked angry while all the parents with the kids were in the living room safely tucked behind the baby gates. I don’t even remember that they said good-bye. What I do remember is texting them and thanking them for the birthday presents (the wrong gift, oops), but I never got a response. I got unfriended on Facebook.
Mommy meetup after mommy meetup passed. I thought I could make it to some, but was too afraid to show my face around that group again after whatever it was that transpired (I don’t even know). Also, people. I eventually got kicked out of the meetup because they started charging money to be part of it, and it definitely wasn’t worth it to me to pay to be part of a group I was purposefully avoiding because (a) I was embarrassed and (b) I don't like being around new people. This is a difficult thing for me to admit publicly because I feel it makes me sound like a curmudgeon. Then again, I’m in my thirties, and I’m past giving a fuck about what people think, so here it is. I DON’T LIKE MEETING NEW PEOPLE! If I meet you and I like you, which I probably will (it’s pretty rare that I have the visceral hate response), then you can come to my birthday party. If I don’t like you, you can’t come to my birthday party. I don’t want to go to yours, either, so there. Unless you want me to, and then I see the fragile three-year-old in you, and then, maybe we bond over that. Silently.
I could never really say if it was the wrong combination of people, or just the wrong timing, or maybe it just really isn’t in my nature to connect with people in such a cold, transactional manner like meetup. I did meet my husband online, and did a lot of dating online. There is a Moms Who Write Meet-Up that I could never make it to because it was usually on a Tuesday morning, so I’ve never made it to one of those, and it could actually be beneficial for me. But again. People.
It seems I have yet to experience the benefits of Mommy Meetup Groups.