Struggling with anti-social tendencies and other things

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?

7 Comments

  • ozreison

    April 20, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    I know nothing about babies and mommy groups, but I wonder… why do you have to get mommy buddies *now*? I mean, I know you can’t be on mat leave forever if you have goals that involve money (which most of us do), but why don’t you just hang out with Lyra while you can now? Once you go back to work there will be less Lyra time, so I would think filling up on it now would be good. And you can still make new friends. It’s not like it has to be done while you are on mat leave or else it will never happen.

    Of course, this could just be further proof of how little I know about parenting and why it’s excellent that I remain child-free… I really don’t know.

  • ashkitty

    April 20, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Yes, it is. It’s all you can expect of yourself or anyone, really.

    And honestly, I think that lots of new moms wish they were doing more but well, just don’t have time. Because having babies is exhausting, and you could sure use the support, but don’t have the time and energy. And you’re on the introvert side, like you said, but really even the most go-getting social butterfly ever would get worn out, I think. So FWIW, I don’t think you’re probably missing as much as you think. And in the end you and Adam and Lyra are the ones that count. Other babies Lyra plays with are going to be forgotten by the time she has all her teeth, but you guys are the ones who wil always be important. Just concentrate on that. <333

  • Jenny Lee Silver

    April 20, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    I am probably the best rested, least busy mom I know. Don’t tell other moms – they might kick my ass or something. We live mellow lives, me & Lyra. She’s such an easy baby to take care of. There’s not much rushing about, there’s very little exhaustion to be had… we mostly hang out and have fun, really. I have lots of time, because (as Adam likes to point out) I suck at housekeeping and like being outside.

    Right now I have questions that I want to ask experienced local moms – like what daycares are good, and close? What should I expect from them? and a bunch of other things that escape me at this second. Or maybe someone wants to do childsharing daycare in their home, which would be an avenue I’d look into given the option. Much to my dismay, not everything can be discovered online. 😉

    It’s just fun to see Lyra play with other babies… Whether or not she remembers, I like to see it 🙂 She’s a bit obsessed with children right now.

  • Jenny Lee Silver

    April 20, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    Heh… mostly want them now to ask for locally-based advice on daycare and other resources. Added bonus would be to talk to someone who’s got a similar philosophy as I do for nap ideas, since she still only sleeps on me for naps mostly. I have questions the internet can’t answer – never thought it could happen. 🙂

  • jenny

    April 21, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    That is all anyone can do, yes.

    I know it is hard. I only had 6 weeks of maternity leave with Evelyn. On one hand I was ready to get back to work, to regain some part of me that had been put on hold. On the other, I was sad that someone else was going to spend the bulk of their day with her. I like that she’s in day care for many reasons, but I’m frustrated that I can’t do more outside of the house with her (like the activities you’ve mentioned) because the times that they’re available are only convenient for stay at home moms or those who only work part time hours, not someone like me who has to go back to work full time.

    The only places I really have to talk to other moms about mom stuff is the internet and my job. Maybe you’ll find someone back at work that will help bridge what you worry you’re missing. I’m just like you in that I’m not outgoing and sociable, but I enjoy spending time with people. I don’t seek it out, but I’m comfortable with it. Not seeking it out, though, leaves me in a bind when I feel like I *need* something back from that outlet and there’s nothing there.

    I know, and you’re doing great. Try to relax and enjoy the time you do have left with Lyra, doing the kind of things you’d like to remember having done with her now. And I know it isn’t much help, but I’m here with you and will always try to bend an ear 🙂

  • madhatter

    April 21, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    I think we all go through that dread of separating from our children. In the states we don’t get much for maternity leave. 6 weeks unpaid and the employer is not obligated to hold your position open for you they just have to give you a job at whatever pay. With my daughter I had two weeks. We all just need to remember we do the best we can with what we have, with that in mind it is still a tough pill to swallow.

  • oki_v2

    April 22, 2009 at 4:02 am

    Just curious, why do you feel that your leave is coming? I can relate to some extent; I can’t say about having a child or anything of that nature, however some of the other feelings I can.

    Do the best that you can, that’s all anyone can ever ask for.

    And don’t forget to trick me into going mountain bike riding with you next time I come to visit. ;p