Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Joining the ranks of motherhood

I have never been a joiner.

I skipped prenatal classes because I just knew I would end up being the snarky one in the back rolling my eyes instead of practicing my breathing and making wisecracks no one else found funny.

I can’t help it. I get really irritable when confronted by group mentality. Then I get sarcastic. Then people start to think I’m an asshole. And they’re usually right.

So even though everyone told me I should join a mom’s group after Graham was born, I was really reluctant. It just seemed cliché and kinda lame.

But I did feel a little lonely in those early days. Rob was working a lot. Graham was slow to gain weight the first few months of his life and there was some question of whether he had neurological problems. I was reading baby books and parenting web sites obsessively, praying his development was on target.

Wondering if he was normal.

Wondering if I was.

Then I chatted with a girl on this web site forum who seemed pretty cool. She was in Toronto. She and a bunch of new moms got together for coffee on a weekly basis. Did I want to join them?

I said okay. I immediately regretted it. A few days later, on my way out the door Rob cast a mock-disapproving eye on my pink, stiletto ankle boots: “You better not wear those.”

He was kidding. I changed anyway.

I didn’t know what to expect that day more than 20 months ago when I walked into that Riverdale coffee shop and sat down with the already established Cool East End Mommies group. I didn’t dare hope I would find friends there.

But I did. And more than that I found reflections of myself; I found women who were mostly confident, but still unsure if they were doing everything right, women who were hip, but not exactly sure how to wear the mommy label. I found women who were fun, interesting and most importantly, accepting.

I started to go on a regular basis and every week the Cool East End Mommies, this group I was initially so loath to join, gave me what I sought and then some.

I found other moms who had the same concerns and fears that I did. I found the confidence to trust my instincts. I found the things I improvised with Graham, the tricks I had learned, had real value. I learned that my birth story was just as unique as the next woman’s. I found that my anger at how it played out was valid.

And I found that this new person who had been evolving since Graham’s birth, this clothes-crazy writer/ pilot /wisearse/ mom was doing just fine. She was okay.

She was okay.

Graham was okay too and together with the Cool East End Mommies we had one of the best years of my life.

We had picnics in the park.

We went to Toronto Island. To the splash park. To the local drop-in, To the zoo.

I hosted two mom and baby pool parties where we drank sangria, and complimented each other’s bathing suits. We had girls’ nights out where we sipped wine and gossiped. Some of the girls brought their husbands to our big house party last summer .

What I found that day when I walked into that Riverdale coffee shop was something I didn’t even know I was looking for. I found people who could bear witness to the new person I was becoming. People in the middle of their own evolutions who could say convincingly, I get it. I get the worry. I get the fatigue. I get the down days. I get the confusion.

I get the wonder. I get the joy.

What I found that day was friends who I believe will be with me for years and years to come.

The Cool East End Mommies don’t really meet on a regular basis anymore. A lot of us have gone back to work. A few have moved away. Some have already had a second child and are impossibly pressed for time.

This past Sunday past we attempted a bit of a mini-reunion at the park but only a handful of people made it. Graham saw a few of his old friends but quite frankly didn’t seem all that impressed.

But I was. I saw just a few of my old friends and it was enough to set me to remembering those days, frozen in time, when together we discovered what it meant to join the ranks of motherhood.

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Juliejuliette said...

Lovely Kelly :) makes me more sorry I missed all of you Sunday.

I must say, for a non-joiner you came across as remarkably friendly, open and NOT sarcastic. It was a pleasure to meet you, get to know you, and swim in your pool!

And pink stilletos or not, I'm pretty sure your shoes were fabulous. Yes, I noticed. Where does this Mom get off exactly, looking so good? Sometimes I'm a little bitter ;)

Anonymous said...

Well written, Non Joiner. :)

You were lucky to have that group to be a part of. In my area, there is a lack of "Mommy Groups." But I have a few friends to talk with and lean on, although gatherings are hard because we all live such different lives.

Love your writing.

Wendy said...

Well said Kelly! I am so very glad you came out and hung out with all of us! It was great to meet you! I still feel bad that the first time we attempted to meet I got locked out of my garage and stood you up :-( Glad it didn't deter you! I love your writing and hope to catch up with you soon! I miss our mom's group a lot.

GoMommy said...

So true! You sound like someone I could get along few get my sense of humor. Some of the best friends I have I met through a mommy group-so they are not completely evil!