Every day of the last three weeks has been above par for me. I've had fun, met new people, got to spend some quality time with J over each weekend and have generally been so busy every weekday that I felt my life with Ava was finally finding a balance where she and I were both satisfied. Her, with the stimulation of being on the go and around sights, sounds, colors and people; me, with building friendships, (finally) finding some time to write, and getting things done in and outside of the home.
Then yesterday happened.
we're going black and white here, it wasn't the most terrible day of my
life, but it was definitely a lighter shade of gray. For someone who's
tried to paint every day white, it was a downer to say the least.
started off fine. I woke up before Ava and got myself makeup-ed and
ready, excited to meet up with some moms from a mother's group I attend
once a week. A few of us planned to meet earlier than the group to have
coffee and hang out. Caffeine? Prospective friends I can commiserate
with about this whole baby thing? Count me in. I looked forward to
getting to know these girls a little better since our meetup group was
so big that it was hard to get to know anyone on an individual basis.
Ava and I went, and it wasn't bad per se, but it wasn't that great
either. Maybe I just have high expectations for forging close
friendships relatively fast with people, I don't know. But sitting there
at the Starbucks in Target with our pow-wow of strollers, I tried in
vain to jump into the conversation whenever I could, being my perky self
and asking questions with a genuine interest because I do want to get
to know these women. But part of the way through I started to realize
that no one was really including me in their conversations and no one
was asking me any questions -- were they not interested in getting to
know me? -- so I watched as they spoke with one other and
suddenly I felt excluded and very alone. The last time I felt this way
was during my freshman year of high school, when I was one of the last
picked for phys. ed. dodgeball (the stereotype exists for a reason).
Since that fateful day in Mr. Warmerdam's sixth period P.E. class, I've grown prettier, more confident and a hell of a lot more cool. Or so I thought. But then at Target yesterday that familiar feeling resurfaced.
feeling, then, made me painfully aware that I was sitting at a Target
Starbucks. I always wondered what type of person would ever spend time
at a Target Starbucks, usually seen looking dejected and alone with a a
coffee and personal pan pizza from the adjoining food counter, and now I
knew -- that person was me. The one who doesn't really fit in to her
surroundings, but still tries like mad to because having a baby is
isolating enough and she just wants to find some like-minded friends,
God damn it.
And maybe that's the problem. Maybe I'm
trying too hard to force all of this. I so want to have best friends
going through what I'm going through that the process isn't happening as
organically as a Candace Bushnell novel.
I belong to two
mom groups, both of which herald mommy members that couldn't be more
different. Let's call these Mommy Group A and Mommy Group B.
Group A is all career-driven, first-time moms who are eager to return
to the professional lives they had before baby. They love their new
babies but are happy to complain about breastfeeding, the lack of adult
conversation in their new lives, and how they can't wait to go back to
work so that baby rearing is no longer their sole function. They
unanimously hate cooking, cleaning and anything domestic that has to do
with being June Cleaver 2.0. I have this in common with them, but within
the group I'm the only stay-at-home mom -- a fact that makes me look
like an outsider.
Mommy Group B, on the other hand, is
made up of all stay-at-home moms, so of course there's not much talk in
this group of "going back to work," nor is there any desire to work ever
again. Mommy Group B heralds Martha Stewart-type living, and members
keep recipe books, enjoy cooking and crafting, and like playing house.
In this group, one mom's idea of living on the edge is wearing a
lavender cardigan. I can say for certain that I'm no Martha Stewart, nor
do I have any desire to be. Still, the moms in both groups are
pleasant and nice, there's no competition (at least I don't feel any)
between women. That usual cattiness that comes from female groups (a la Real Housewives) doesn't exist in either.
these are my two groups and while I may have some things in common with
members of both (I hate cooking and cleaning, but I am a stay-at-home
mom), I don't quite fit in with either. I feel like I'm somewhere in
between, which makes some days better than others.
day I'll think that I've made headway with a mom or two and the next
day I'll feel like I'm right back at square one. What gives? The worst
thing of all is that I feel like I'm back in grade school trying to find
my group of friends, and all the same rules of the play yard still
apply. It's like that scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding when
Toula, as a young girl, sits alone at the next table over from the
popular girls. She happily opens her lunchbox and before she can take a
bite of her mousaka, which she tells the popular girls it is, they
shriek "Moose Caca!!!" and laugh at how weird she is. All right, so
maybe my situation isn't this dire, but to a degree the exclusion I feel
sometimes feels like this.
I'm sure the moms I hung
out with yesterday have no idea I'm feeling any of this. I smile and nod
and politely enter the conversation here and there, but on the inside
I'm thinking "Why can't I just find my people?" I don't want to always
be politically correct or bond over breastfeeding stories. I just want
to click with a few first-time moms around my age that don't feel the
need to discuss babies (or baby-related things) 24/7. Maybe this is just
my attempt to feel normal again, back before I had Ava. I did have an
identity and life before her, and while she's a great addition, I don't
want to pretend that part of me before her never existed.
find mom friends, I feel myself pretending to be someone else. I'm
suppressing that perky, hyper part of me to come off as more subdued and
collected. I normally have an unusual giddiness about certain things, but lately I've
felt like I've tamped down my outward enthusiasm so as not
to come off as overbearing and "too much."
And I hate
it. It's like I've become some boring, monotonous version of myself
just to try and get in good with some of these moms. It's not me and I'm
sick of it. I don't want to pretend anymore that I enjoy receiving
copies of Good Housekeeping and Parenting Magazine from other moms. I live with a baby; I don't need to read about what it's like. And I hate Good Housekeeping -- do I really look like the type of girl that reads Good Housekeeping?
I loathe how ugly some baby essentials are, like vibrating chairs,
swings and "play mats" and I hate how these things make my house look. I abhor
breastfeeding, and yes, maybe I like having a bottle of wine or two with
my husband after we put Ava to bed. Shoot me.
should I feel like any of this is weird or irresponsible to admit just
because other moms have sworn off wine and caffeine entirely because of
breastfeeding? No, I don't want your copy of Good Housekeeping, but I'll take your copy of Vogue
if you have one. Oh wait, you don't. Because you're busy reading about
how to properly bake your own croutons while I just want to live vicariously through Kate Moss in Paris.
what I need to find: Non-PC moms who see the humor in all this stuff
we're supposed to "love" about motherhood. Moms who are honest about
everything we're all going through. I dropped the "D" word (depression) a
few days ago, and my entire group got quiet and said that none of them
experienced any of that after having their bundles of joy. I call
bullshit. Maybe they aren't ready to be honest with themselves, let
alone me, but I find it highly unlikely that in a group of five moms,
only one (me) has experienced any postpartum depression.
I've found that finding new mom friends is a
lot like blind dating -- so why should I treat this any differently?
Not every man is a perfect fit and neither is every mom. This isn't
commentary on me or the choices I've made as a woman, it's simply an
issue of compatibility. At 30, if I was thrust back into the dating
scene, I wouldn't waste my time with every man, trying desperately to
find someone who I'd work with. So why am I doing that now with these
new friend candidates? I like some more than others, so instead of
trying to make it work with all of them, I'm going to spend time getting
to know the good ones while keeping an eye out for new, outside
Re-Run Sunday: "Time for Swiss Army hands"
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