I recently saw someone who looked familiar.
“I know you don’t I?” she said eyeing me carefully. When we made eye contact I knew that she had been in a playgroup with me.
“No, I don’t think so,” I said breaking into a cold sweat praying for the store clerk to hurry up with my purchase.
“Yes, you have 2 little boys…..” she trailed off.
Caught, I had to engage and pretend that I just remembered who she was. I escaped after some quick small talk. As I left the store, I reflected back on those early years when I was stuck home with my first baby, wandering the world aimlessly in search of any activity that would kill time. There was a community place we would go for two hours every Wednesday, where kids could play and moms sat on couches, glassy-eyed, chatting about potty-training, making homemade baby-food, nursing, and other riveting topics. One day a mom I had made small talk with in the past, approached me and said “I told my playgroup about you and they said I could invite you to join us!”.
She was so excited to tell me this great news, and I was so caught off guard, that I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I would rather gouge out my eyeballs with sharp objects than join her playgroup.
“Um, ok….when is it?” I asked.
So of course I got sucked into this playgroup after being home for about a month with my one-year old. This was essentially my first taste of the world of stay-at-home “Mommy-hood”, and to say it was a shock is putting it mildly.
First off, there were 5 of us in the group, and I was the only one who had not emptied out my dining room and transformed it into a playroom.
“Oh, but where’s your table and chairs.” I asked staring at the heaps of toys, baby swings and train tables.
“Everything is in storage,” they would say with their soft robotic voices.
“Your china and silver?”
“We don’t need it anymore,” they would say smiling lovingly at their two-year olds.
Was I the only one who someday dreamt of eating a meal with
another adult off of something other than a Wiggles paper plate while actually sitting down on a chair??? As I went from house to house and saw the same set-up I started to wonder if I was naive or maybe selfish.
It became increasingly more and more clear to me that I was not like these women. Myself and one of the other girls was pregnant and two others had just had their second. Being home with a one-year old all day was exhausting and extremely difficult while pregnant, and I seemed to be the only one to complain or be tired. They all were always smiling and seemed to love very minute of being home with small children.
One time they were all talking about when the older kids turned 3 and went to preschool, how we would deal with the trauma of leaving them at school.
“Honestly, I’m going to drop him off, peel out of the parking lot and chain smoke cigarettes all the way home,” I joked.
A tumbleweed rolled by.
4 Stepford wives stared at me in horror.
It got to the point where I dreaded going. I began to feel more and more guilt for not basking in the joy of motherhood and wondered every week if maybe i was just a miserable horrible person. My son didn’t really care about playing with any of the kids and I basically went to kill 2 hours, but hated every minute of it. I couldn’t just quit though. What would be my reason?
“You guys are all just a little too happy, and seem to love your children a little too much…..I quit.”
My plan was to claim I was too overwhelmed when I had my second
baby in the summer and quit the group. June couldn’t come fast
The “playgroup leader” came to visit when I had the baby. (I’m not making up that title in case you all are thinking that sounds a little crazy, this is what I was dealing with.)
“So, it’s really crazy having two babies 18 months apart, and I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to playgroup anymore….You make it look so easy,” I said.
“Oh well, I’ve been taking drugs for postpartum for three years, so nothing upsets me,” she said with her smile that I could now see was a little dopey.
Nervously, I changed topics, ” Well, Lena makes it seem like a
breeze too with her two boys,” I said focusing on another playgroup member.
“She is heavily medicated,” she answered matter-of-factly.
“Okay…..what about Jill and Kelly?” I asked incredulously.
“I’m pretty sure they are still taking something to take the edge off too,” she said as though we were talking about eating m&m’s.
So here I was for 9 months feeling bad about myself and hating this playgroup and these bitches were in drug-induced fogs the whole
I could not believe it. I quit the playgroup and now whenever I see a mom that seems just a little too happy, I think to myself, it must be the Zoloft.