Like a Fine Wine….
Eight years ago, I moved to New England from a small town in the Midwest. I was in my late 20’s at the time and I was relocating for a guy….totally cliche, I know. I did end up marrying him though, so at least I wasn’t “that girl” entirely.
When I moved, I left behind a small circle of very close friends I had known most of my life. Once I got to my new state, I realized I had no idea how to make friends as an adult without something like school or a specific activity to unite us.
One night, I Googled, “How the hell do adults make friends in a new city?” and I was introduced to Meetup.com.
If you aren’t familiar with Meetup, it’s a networking site that allows users to create and join interest groups in their local communities. There are thousands of groups to choose from. Everything from outdoor sports groups, to book clubs, parenting groups, exercise, volunteering, artists, dating, business related groups and so on can be found on the site.
After considering my own interests and scanning the options available, I decided to join a women’s book club. The group I selected was newly formed, which I liked because it meant everyone would be new and not just me. I filled out my profile, signed up, stalked the profiles of the other women who had joined and concluded I’d made a good choice.
The night of the inaugural meet and greet, I almost bailed. I’ve mentioned before that I can be a bit socially awkward and somewhat of a loner….hermit-like, even. This is not to say I don’t like people, I just like them in small doses.
Mostly, I was concerned about my abilities to refrain from saying something like, “It makes me feel much better to know I’m not the only one so desperate for camaraderie that I was willing to show up to a strange location under the direction of a website. I can’t tell you what a huge relief it is knowing that I won’t be ending my evening stuffed in the trunk of a car. Phew!”
After lingering outside the venue debating with myself about whether or not I should go in, I finally took a deep breath and went for it. More than 20 women showed up. At first, I worried we might be corralled into a private room where we would be forced to circulate and make/join conversations.
Much to my relief however, we were seated at a series of tables laid out in a straight line. Although the group was large, it was really only possible to mingle with those seated closest to you. This made the entire endeavor seem far more intimate and far less intimidating. Plus, I reasoned, if I said something really stupid, I could just move further down the table.
I was sitting with a trio of women all in their early 20’s. I was 29. As we chatted, it was clear we were in very different stages of life overall. But, when it came to our hobbies and interests, there was some common ground and all three were smart, friendly and likable.
By the night’s end, we had exchanged numbers, become Facebook friends and agreed to get together again in the coming weeks.
Our first get together post meeting was at a local bar known for it’s 20-something single clientele.
As we chatted over fruity martini’s, it became painfully clear that what little common ground we shared wasn’t likely enough to overcome our gaping differences. I was 29. I had a live-in boyfriend, who was divorced with two small children and I was beginning to take on the responsibilities of being a step-parent. They prattled on and on about how depressing it was being 22 and single and how they were beginning to hear the steady ticks of their biological clocks.
I lived on a cul-de-sac in the suburbs in a town chosen because it had an excellent school system. They lived with their parents or in tiny studio apartments in trendy commuter neighborhoods.
I was all for a girls weekend to NYC and then back-tracked when they started discussing the cheapest hotel options and how many people we could sneak into one room.
As the evening wore on, I began to feel like Amy Poehler’s character from Mean Girls….the mom trying desperately to cling to her own adolescence.
I hung-in with the book club for a few months and I got together with the trio a few more times, but I think I went because they invited me and I think they invited me because they felt like they had to. Eventually, I parted ways with all of it.
I wouldn’t call it a negative experience, but I learned some groups cast too broad a net and it would take a bit more effort and research on my part to land with a group I could truly connect with….though I never did it.
I’m still on the mailing list though and with some frequency I get notified of new MeetUp’s in my area. Most recently, I was notified of a new parenting group for moms. When I opened the email, it simply said, “Boston YOUNG Stay at Home Moms and Working Moms Meetup.”
Hmmmm….I thought. This could be promising. I mean….
I’m a YOUNG mom. √
I’m in the Boston area. √
I’m kind of a hybrid of a SAHM/Working Mom. √
Then….I opened it up and read the fine print.
Hey! F-You Crisonis!
Since when did anything over 26 become not YOUNG?
And, why is 26 the peak of the hill and 27 when you start to steam roll over it? Isn’t 30 the new 20?!
I understand hoping to build a community with people you can relate to, but being a mom of infants/toddlers comes with a pretty universal set of experiences regardless of age.
My toddler sure as shit doesn’t cut me any slack because I’m apparently OLD. He’s never once looked at me said, “Since you have crows feet and creaky joints, I’m going to entertain myself for a while so you can take a nap.”
I know what its like to being covered in the three P’s (puke, pee and poop).
I can commiserate on the struggles of juggling the responsibilities of parenting with the responsibilities of home and career.
I’ve gone my fair share of days in the same pair of sweat pants….and maybe the same pair of underwear….with my teeth unbrushed, my hair in a bun and a t-shirt on backwards….because if I can’t see the stain it’s not there….I’m down with the struggles.
What are the parenting loop-holes you think my age entitles me to?
What is it that only a YOUNG mom of infants and toddlers is experiencing that a stale, OLD mom like me can’t relate to?
Is it finances? Well, a mature mom like me can probably afford to pick up the lunch or drinks tab now and then….see what an asset I can be, Crisonis?
Maybe I’ll just start my own damn group. I’ll call it:
The Golden Girls. OLD Moms of Toddlers and Infants Meetup Group.
We’re a greying group of OLD Moms, aged 27+.
We believe in parenting “Buddy System” style and at our first meeting, we’ll pair up into teams so we can tackle parenting together….I can’t be the only one whose sore knees and hips can’t do it solo anymore, am I right, ladies?! Also, if one of us strokes out or has a heart attack, we’ve got child care covered.
We’ll gather for Early Bird Specials at all the best spots….Friendly’s, I-HOP….and we’ll shop til we drop at Joann Fabrics!
We can talk about Medicare and funeral planning and share tips on registering with the AARP!
Sign up for our first meeting at the Public Library scheduled for 2:00pm. That should allow plenty of time to get dinner on the table for 4 and into bed at 8!