When I went on maternity/parental leave, I had visions of getting involved in mommy groups, going to baby & mommy playtimes and songtimes and other random groups that are designed to entertain babies and help mothers feel a sense of community, and discover new friends to replace the ones who slowly vanish when kids come into the picture. You know; the friends who don’t have kids, the ones you used to go out and do things that aren’t kid-friendly with. Kind of like losing a percentage of your single friends when you get into a serious relationship. But I digress.
I imagined that I would get involved in my community, find people to talk parenting with (although it wasn’t a side of me I could actually see, I had faith that it would come out), and generally have this whole ‘North Van Mom’ identity.
It hasn’t happened.
My prenatal group of moms makes an effort to get together once every four months or so. We enjoy visiting for an afternoon, but it’s not a common occurrence and we don’t go out of our way to make it a regular weekly thing by any means. One of them I see more than the rest – she lives down the road from me so we will get together and go for a walk every two weeks or so. So that’s something I guess, but I wouldn’t call us really close by any measure.
I spent a few months going to the La Leche League meetings, which were interesting and all, but never made friends with anyone through that – I never once talked to them outside the group, I didn’t exchange phone numbers or emails with them, and we never planned playgroups and afternoon tea with each other. Or at least, if some of them did, I wasn’t involved. I am rather terrible at making conversation with strangers, or approaching people I don’t know well and interjecting myself into their conversations. It makes me uncomfortable. At any rate, I stopped going a while ago because reminder emails started going into my spam filter, and I’m fairly certain it wasn’t really noticed. I don’t have much to say there, really.
I tried to join a baby & me boot camp back in November, and it got cancelled before it even began. Theoretically I could join one again, but really, I don’t have the extra cash to keep joining classes.
Lyra and I started Baby Bubbles in January, which was fun. We went through the entire 12 week class, and we talked to the other moms & babies in the class, but I never felt like I had reached a comfort zone of wanting to ask about going for coffee. A lot of them already knew each other anyhow. Again, I don’t interject myself well. I signed us up for a second session of Baby Bubbles, which we’re now doing. This time I’m not really expecting anything more than going, playing in the pool for a while, then coming home.
So I’m not outgoing and sociable. I enjoy spending time with people, I like being part of a group, but it’s not something that comes naturally to me. Never has, probably never will. Most of the time I don’t feel like it’s missing from my life, but sometimes I really want to talk to a group of moms about our babies, and fish for ideas and suggestions in a group of like-minded parents when I need some advice or alternatives, and give Lyra the opportunity to play with other babies close in age to her now that she’s showing an interest in doing so.
But I’m running out of time. I feel like time is counting down, and the end of my leave is rapidly approaching. There are things I wish I had done – vague concepts of things, anyhow – that I haven’t, and I don’t think I’ll fit them in. I guess it’s more a sense of loss than anything. Sending Lyra to daycare of some sort means that she will have the opportunity to play with other kids her own age… but I won’t be there to see it, and that makes me feel sad. And I feel like I’ve missed out on something with not having a group, however small, of other moms with babies to confide in, to talk about my problems with, to discuss poop because let’s face it, no one wants to hear about poop but other moms with babies understand why you feel the need to talk about it, and will let you.
I’m just running out of time. I wish I could afford to just hang out with Lyra full time. I love doing it, and I can’t shake the feeling that if I just had more time these relationships would happen. But realistically speaking, it’s not possible. I can’t daydream about getting a car at the same time as I daydream about staying home with Lyra for just a few more years… I can’t have both. I can’t even have one of them. They’re both out of reach. I will do the best with what I have, and can do.
That’s all anyone can do, right?