Mommin’ ain’t for the faint of heart, yo. From the very moment that sperm does its dance with your egg, life is forever changed. Pregnancy does a number on our bodies. Stretchmarks, sore boobs, nausea, crying over ASPCA commercials, and weird dreams are just the beginning. After months of growing a FREAKING HUMAN inside your body, you have to get it out. It’s either coming out of a tiny hole or a large surgical tear. Either way…OUCH. Welcome to parenthood baby.
I imagined parenthood to be a LOT different than it’s currently playing out to be.
I didn’t plan on the mom guilt, the overwhelming love that keeps me awake some nights, or the need to connect with other moms and share my crazy. Who else but a fellow Mom would truly understand the high that comes from your child finally ‘getting’ potty training? I felt like a darn superhero for all of two days before my child had an accident while sitting on my lap in church. Who else but a Mom would understand the struggle between feeding your family something nutritious but also realizing children have the culinary palate of a stray dog? I WANT to feed my family vegetables and food that contains nutrients, but I know they will most likely ask for a pb&j or boxed macaroni and cheese. Will they eat the homemade macaroni and cheese? No. No they will not because it’s not the right color.
Enter Moms groups.
That glowing bastion of all things comforting, understanding, and fun. After my first child was born, I was desperate for human connection. I was drowning in baby talk, bodily fluids not of my own making, and a need to make sure that I wasn’t alone in parenting challenges. I found a Mom group online that promised a progressive approach to female friendships. The group blurb advertised a group of women who were actually adults and could have rational conversations without being petty and judging. They touted they were a band of women who were supportive and embraced all forms of parenting styles. I was all in. Sign me up.
The first meet up went okay. We met at the zoo, a big group of tired moms and our bundles of joy. Lions, tigers, bears, oh my! There wasn’t much time to converse with everyone, but the sense of community was nice. We chatted briefly during lunch while wrangling our kids and I was soothed.
I was excited for the meet-up at a member’s house. I spent too much time debating an appropriate outfit, feeling like I was going to an important interview. Would they hire me and call me friend? Would I snort when I laughed, would my kid lick their dog (don’t judge, it was a phase), would I get their seal of approval? A lot was riding on this meet up. I wanted a tribe. I wore my best leggings and flats. I even put on light makeup. Watch out ladies, your new best friend is here.
As Moms tend to do, our conversation drifted toward birth stories. There’s no better way to get to know a fellow mom than to hear how her vagina ripped during birth or how awful the bowel movement was post birth. It’s a real conversational icebreaker. I told of my c-section and how after twelve hours of labor I was willing to have a crane hooked up to my lady parts to get the party started. Enter Susan to the conversation. I’m calling her Susan because that’s not even close to her name, and I don’t personally know any Susans. If your name is Susan, sorry. Be better than this Susan.
Susan didn’t read the blurb on the group site about embracing all parenting styles and not judging. Susan went full-on Judgy McJudgerson. She flat out asked me, “Well, is it really called ‘giving birth’ if you had a c-section? I mean, to give birth, means you put work in to it, but a c-section is different. I don’t mean to offend, but it’s just different.” Oh, Susan. Poor dear misguided, can’t read the blurb, Susan.
Unfortunately for her (and maybe me), my response to Susan did mean to offend. Susan was speechless as I’m sure the other moms were as well. She truly didn’t understand how ignorant, hurtful, and wrong her statement was. In the next breath she had the audacity to ask another mom if her son was circumcised. Look, I get that circumcision is a hot button topic and lots of people have lots of feels about it. I really get it. However, it is never appropriate to inquire about a child’s genitals. Seriously. I don’t ask you if your lady parts are flapping in the wind after a vaginal birth — that would be really weird. And gross. And it would be weird that I was thinking about your lady parts in the first place and then asked about it. Gross, right? Apply that to circumcision.
Needless to say, I said some stuff I can’t repeat due to decency and not using bad language on a public blog. Use your imagination. I gathered up my child, stuffed my snacks in my bag, and stormed out. That same night, I was emailed a letter detailing how I didn’t live up to the ideals of the club and was not longer a part of it. Say what the what? I actually read the blurb. I didn’t judge anyone or tell a Mom she hadn’t actually given birth. I didn’t ask weird questions about infant private parts. What the heck? I never got a response to the two emails I sent back, so I stopped. Honestly, if dear Susan (who was still in the group) was what they considered ‘ideal’ then they could take a flying leap off a short bridge.
It got me thinking though. Was there something wrong with me?
Did I have a defect that kept me from connecting with other Moms? Nah. Listen, some Moms get in groups and can’t wait to let you know how perfect they are. They’re sanctimonious, better than you, and generally killing the mom gig, and really want to tell you how you aren’t. But, I’m glad to discover these women are the exception. There are loads of amazing women out there who will support you, build you up, and cheer you on. They will listen to your venting about catching vomit in your hands and pat you on the back. They will drop everything in a moment’s notice to help you when you need it. They will strategize where to hide fictional bodies if you ever commit a fictional crime. It pays to be prepared, amiright? They are out there, but don’t let the Susans of the world stop you from looking.
I’m happy to report that I have joined other Mom groups and love them. I’ve found a sense of community and built lifetime friendships. I’ve also learned to make Mom friends outside groups. In a way, I’m thankful for Susan, because she pushed me to seek out new friends. She taught me to not judge other Moms even if I secretly think they’re crazy. We all do it, but I realized I’m crazy too. What I think is normal and ‘the right way’ looks completely weird to someone else.