The Playgroup Predicament
When I got pregnant 7 years ago, here’s all I knew about having a baby: Drinking wine while said child is in your belly is frowned upon. The good news was that resisting the urge to drink was surprisingly easy.** I bought a bottle of Pinot the day the stick turned pink, and left it out on the counter for the next 9 months as something to look forward to. Little did I know that after my child was born, the only thing I would want to do with that bottle of wine was give myself a quick blow to the head in order to get some sleep. (Sidenote: Even though I quit smoking back when Britney was claiming to be a virgin, I found myself trailing people with cigarettes on the sidewalk just to get a whiff of their poisonous air. Some people crave Mint Milanos; I apparently craved secondhand smoke.)
Also? The only friend I had with children was my own mother. This tends to happen when your pregnancy is completely unplanned, and your friends are still spending their Friday nights acting out the lyrics of a Ke$ha song. So you can imagine the horror I felt (somewhere between there being no coffee left in the house and being forced to watch a marathon of The Bachelor) when I was sitting at home with a baby who wanted to line up spices from the pantry (à la Rainman), and no other Mom-friend to ask if this was normal.
And then one day it hit me: I needed to find a Playgroup. But where to find this elusive group of women who would not judge me for occasionally sneaking Sprite into my child’s sippy cup because the eventual sugar crash would force him to nap? I decided to hit the only 2 Mother-Child meccas in my town: Barnes & Noble during story hour and Babies R Us. Let me tell you, I don’t know how every Hipster at every Starbucks in America does it: I found it quite difficult to lurk around, looking casual-yet-carefree, when in reality I was secretly judging every move these people made.
My system went something like this: If your kid ran up to the Storytime lady and bit her leg, and your response was to say “Oh, Damien, your behavior is so disappointing! Now come over here and snuggle Mommykins!”? Forget it. But if you were to grab that kid and say “Santa Claus doesn’t bring presents to Biters! Now you’re going to time-out… in a chair at the Nordstrom shoe department!” Well, I probably followed you to your car and “accidentally” ran into you at the mall. (I’m telling you, it’s amazing what kind of relationship can blossom over a pair of lace-up, knee-high, stiletto Gucci boots.)
Eventually I found my people. I know you’re wondering: I eavesdropped on a mom having breakfast with her baby, and heard her say she was new in town. You’d better believe I was sitting at her table before the orange juice was served. (Thank goodness I had my kid on my hip, or I would’ve looked less like a Desperate Mother and more like a pushy Jehovah’s Witness.) A Playgroup was formed, and for years these women talked me down from the Mommy Ledge. And that whole spice thing? They told me it was fine– at least until he started memorizing the phone book.
**Until the 38th week. Nothing says “pass the corkscrew” like growing out of your size Large maternity pants.
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