Flapper pie told me to join a mommy group. I resisted. It’s hard to explain why. I guess I’ve always secretly liked to consider myself slightly out of the mainstream, slightly left or right of center. When I was a kid being different was never a good thing and I was always different: a little chubbier than the other girls in dance class, a little less white in school. Perhaps I got used to it and it became who I am. Not fitting in exactly was how I fit.
So the idea of a mommy group seemed odd- go somewhere where we are all the same? Furthermore I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I hadn’t spent a good portion of my life in many unconscious ways belittling the life of mommy-hood. Not explicitly, but looking back there was some part of me that ranked motherhood as somehow less important, less meaningful than well, something else. I couldn’t tell you why that was, maybe because the world expected me, expected all of us women to bear children, to be mothers, and the weight of that expectation made the notion seem so un-extraordinary.
Well, I’ve been eating a lot of humble pie of late. With a dollop of chagrin. Because if there is one thing I’ve discovered the last month or two is how powerful mothers are and how generous they can be towards one another. Sure there are mommy politics and mommy wars and I’m sure that all lies ahead for me, but the last few months women with whom I would normally have nothing in common have taken me in because I am now a bit like them: I am a mother, a struggling first time one. Women who I only knew in passing, you know, those remote face book ‘friends’, have made me burst out in mad sleep deprived laughter as they tell me not to lose heart or my sanity. Mothers of toddlers and infants have invited me over, fed me, held my kid while I peed, texted with me in the middle of the night to keep my spirits up while the baby wails. They don’t need you to finish your sentences, they understand when you are late or cancel an appointment. They tell you stories about boobs and poops. They don’t mind if your kid screams in their backseat. They tell me I am not the only one who has to wear a brace from rocking my baby. They want to give you a hug and tell you it will get better.
Women I don’t know that well, acquaintances who by nature of our shared fate have become friends, and of course good friends, have opened up their trench coats to reveal that this isn’t easy. And I am tremendously grateful to all of them for being so honest, so kind, so encouraging, so understanding. To let me see what’s behind the smiling photos: that my child and my struggles with him and that complicated love that comes with him is just like theirs for their own.
It’s always been a struggle to belong to anything. But among these candid strong enduring women, I do.