Why I Love Meetup.com

Or rather this post should be titled ‘How To Make Friends for Grown-ups’.  People say that when you have a baby everything changes.  You don’t go out.  You don’t have any more fun.  Your drinking and partying days are over.  You lose all your friends.  And you know what ‘They’ are right.  The reality is that while all your single friends are going out for sushi and a movie or heading downtown to see the latest Detroit garage rock band or meeting up on a whim to go do karaoke at the local dive, you are rocking a teething child while singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ for the 20th time in a row.  As much as we want to get back to ‘normal’ we don’t have the spontaneous freedom that our previous lives offered.  There’s always a grandma or a babysitter to consider.  And for me there’s always an hour and a half drive just to see my old friends.  So how does a new mom in a new city find a playdate for her little one or a couple of ladies to go walking while simultaneously commiserating with?  Thank the universe there’s a little website called Meetup.com!!   


So many of my blogging friends live far away from their families and close friends.  I’m guessing that like me that’s why they started blogging.  To update all their folks on their little nugget’s progress.  But for me it became much more than that.  A way to ‘talk’ to people about what was going on with me while I was trying to figure out how to be a mom.  It almost seemed easier than picking up the phone and calling folks that I assumed kept very different hours from me and were too busy to chat about my leaky breasts.  I say assumed because I don’t really know.  


Many close friends just seemed to fade away from me once Cedella was born, and though we still talk on occasion, sadly, our friendships aren’t nearly as close as they once were.  I’ve never figured out why either.  What I did or didn’t do.  Why they’ve never come up to visit us.  Did we suddenly become less interesting cause we couldn’t go out all the time?  I’ve chalked it up to busy schedules or being out-of-sight and out-of-mind.  It used to upset me quite a bit, it was incredibly lonely being in a new town, without anyone to relate to and on top of it being 6 months pregnant and unable to do anything ‘fun’.  But dwelling on losing friends is hard to focus on when you’re trying to navigate cloth diaper stains or transitioning to solid foods. 


Once Cedella was born it was even more challenging to figure out friendships.  I knew that even though they were miles away my mom and my sister would always be there for me.  And they have been in spades.  My few close girlfriends that stuck by and maintained our connection lived far away.  But somehow they still managed to come visit and make a weekly phone call to my sleep-deprived ass.  I love them even more for sticking by me and giving me encouragement, listening to all my complaints and allowing me to live vicariously through their still-single exploits.  And thank the universe for my amazing MIL and her family.  They have invited us over every single week for home-cooked Lebanese food and always made me feel like I was at home.  They include me in their shopping trips and girls-only outings, and we always have an open invite to swim in their pool or just to socialize for a while.  I don’t know what Cedella and I would do without Teta.  So here I am, blogging my heart out, having lovely phone chats with my far-away friends, building my relationship with my in-laws and yet I have nothing to do and no one to spend time with during the day.  I found myself becoming resentful of my SAHM status, even volunteering to work at my husband’s store just so I could get out of the house.  I LOVE shopping and even I was getting bored with shopping (crazy, right?).  It was time for me to find some friends…


So why was it so hard to make friends here in Capital City?  It should have been easy with that whole crazy new mom magnet thing.  It’s like we can smell the spit-up stains and are drawn to each other like tractor beams.  Several women had babies around the time Cedella was born in our circle of friends.  And then there were the three lovely ladies we met in Natural Childbirth class.  But not one of the new moms we knew really ‘reached’ out to me.  I say this, despite the lameness of the excuse, but in truth I didn’t really reach out either.  Though I did plan a couple of outings with the moms and babies from childbirth class, I was the only one to take that initiative.  Guess the other ladies already had a full support system of family and friends around them up here.  I really need to do that again…



As moms we eventually think that we need our infants to make ‘friends’ and the search for a playdate group is on.  Let’s be honest, when you’re a baby you don’t have to do much searching for friends.  When do children really even start ‘playing’ with each other beyond taking toys from one another and trying to get what the other child is holding?  Let’s face it, if your Mama sets you down anywhere near another child your instantly friends.  Cedella’s social skills are pretty astute, albeit worrisome to her father.  She is the classic flirt.  The waves a silly little princess wave, followed by a big ole smile and some batting of the eyelashes.  Then she goes in for the kill…the movie star kiss.  Boys, girls, infants or toddlers.  She wants to make out…now!  


I had no idea how to find a playgroup.  Then I read this hilarious post from Diana over at Hormonal Imbalances about her less than perfect first playdate through Meetup.com.  That’s when I went into full on research librarian mode.  Spending hours sifting through mom groups, playdate groups and miscellaneous women’s groups I finally found the group for me, henceforth known as The Group.  But I certainly didn’t expect joining said Group to be like applying for college.  


I had to fill out an extensive application about myself including describing myself as a drink.  I seriously AGONIZED over the answer to this question.  I didn’t want to turn anyone off and I didn’t want to misrepresent myself.  Should I be a Caramel Marvel – latte, sweet, brown and full of energy?  A fine glass of Bordeaux – sophisticated, complicated and paired perfectly with a leg of lamb?  I mean what kind of question is that, anyways?  I went with a Jack and Coke cause I’m a little rough around the edges.  Apparently this was acceptable because I was asked to fill out the second application.  


After spilling all my personal details and committing to being a really active participant in The Group I was welcomed in and asked if I wanted a personal meeting with The Group Leader.  Ummmmm, huh?  Do I need a face-to-face interview on top of the 2 very personal questionnaires?  I just wanna hang out with some other moms!!  I skipped the face-to-face cause it seemed unnecessary and scrolled through the upcoming events.  Jackpot!  I spotted a 2 mile Babywearing Nature Hike.  Exercise?  Check.  Baby bonding?  Check.  Fresh air?  Check.  Hanging with other moms?  Check.  The hike couldn’t come fast enough.  


I planned our hike-worthy yet still fashionable outfits the day before (thanks to Diana) and left early to make sure I wasn’t late.  When I got there (five minutes late) there were 5 other moms with babies strapped to their chests.  I put Cedella in her Baby K’tan and joined the group.  After some brief introductions we were off on our hike through a beautiful wooded nature preserve.  Immediately everyone kind of buddied up.  I was right in the middle with another mom with a little girl.  Turns out her little girl is just 2 weeks older than Cedella and the two of us chatted the entire time while the girls babbled back and forth.  We had so much in common it was ridiculous.  Conversation was super easy and we didn’t miss a beat.  By the end of the hike I knew I had to get up my courage and try to make friends. 


But how?  My friend Eliza at Postcards from Parenthood agonized over this exact same moment hilariously here.  Do you blurt out how much you have in common we MUST exchange information?  Do you hand someone a card with your name and number on it?  Do you let the moment pass and just hope you run into them again somewhere?  Well as I’m sure my mother can attest to, I don’t have a shy bone in my body.  And it seems that New Friend and I have that in common to.  We both agreed to meet the following week at the Mom Yoga event.  Perfect…a second date ; )


Now I don’t mean to be creepy and sound like I’m trying to date this other mom.  But isn’t that what it’s like?  You’re looking for that one person that shares your values, laughs at your jokes and understands what you’re going through.  Someone to hang out with and get together with.  Someone to talk to that actually wants to hear what you have to say.  New Friend is just that.  


We met at the Mom Yoga group and I met The Group Leader.  Let’s just preface this with the fact that I knew it was a bit odd that several of the meetings take place at a church.  But when I was asked if I was coming to the Bad Girls of the Bible event, I knew that maybe it was a bit too religious for me.  That being said, all the women were really kind, totally welcoming and friendly.  After the class was over New Friend and I made plans to get together for a walk with our girls the following week.  


Our first walk was amazing.  We walked further on the River Walk trail than I’ve ever made it on my own.  We talked and talked and talked.  The girls talked and talked and talked.  We’re both breast feeding and co-sleeping and she’s even trying cloth diapers!!  We’re both from the burbs of Detroit, we’re both away from our moms and sisters, we’re both into reading (in fact we were both reading The Help at the same time!).  She had me at “I usually know I’m going to like someone if they swear and drink”.  Yeah…that’s how I pick friends too.  It’s just one of those friendships that was meant to be.  


Apart from hanging out and walking with New Friend at least once a week, Cedella and I continue to go on the hikes once a week…though the Michigan winter seems to be rapidly approaching.  But we keep joking about taking up snowshoeing.  Somehow I think we’ll actually talk each other into it.  Regardless, our girls LOVE each other as much as any babies can love one another.  They smile and laugh at each other and are constantly giving kisses and hugs.  New Friend is just the thing I needed to remind myself of how awesome it is to be a SAHM.  


While I thank Meetup.com for introducing me to New Friend, I am at a loss at a couple of other aspects. It seems like The Group is kind of cliquey.  Not in a Mean Girls way, but in a hard to break through the circle kind of way.  Everyone is nice and polite, but they all know each other SO well and here I am, the New Girl just trying to add my two cents into any given conversation (cause we all know I’ve always got an opinion).  I’m going to try a few other outings and see if I can break through.  If not, oh well, I’ve got New Friend and that’s fabulous to me.

Cedella passed out after a really exhausting walk…

Comments

  1. Teresha@Marlie and Me says:

    I am in the same boat. I think all mom groups are cliqueish. they can't help relive HS all over again, I want none of it. I tried Meetup but all the mommy groups are way north. I guess there aren't many SAHMs south of downtown. Oh well. I might have to look beyond mommy groups and base my search for new friends on a hobby/interest. :sigh:
    I am going gaga over that pic of C wearing mittens!!!

  2. Eliza says:

    Ha! Oh girl, I have my first Meetup.com MOm's only event tonight! (Thanks for introducing me to it). I hope it goes well! I'm nervous!!!

    I really wish we lived closer…..we would SO be hanging.

  3. Alexia says:

    I wish I lived closer to both of you ladies! But so glad that I've gotten a chance to 'know' you through our blogging world ; )

  4. Diana @Hormonal Imbalances says:

    I am SO excited for you!! I'm glad my disaster prepped you well. :) It sounds so ideal, and I'm really glad you feel comfortable with the group.

    You are such a sweetheart, I'm sure New Friend is just as pumped to have met someone like you.

  5. Tracey Sims says:

    Even though I can't be a part of your mom's group, I still love hearing your hilarious stories, reading your blog as well as the comments made by all these beautiful mothers! Watching you care for Cedella is sort of half-convincing me that I might pull off being a mom one day (in the distant, far-off future).

    Reading this, I've been reminded what an amazing mother, wife, sister and friend you are. Why everyone else down here in The D doesn't see that is beyond me. I guess people are instinctively selfish and want you to be the same Ali you've always been. The thing they don't realize is that you still ARE that Ali. You just continue to grow and evolve as a person with each passing year, adding and shedding layers of experience, interests and history as you go. Whoever it is in your life that doesn't see this is simply blind.

    I'm glad that we're closer than we've been in years. I attribute it to BOTH of us growing up. And that right there is worth the 3-hour round trip drive every time. Love you, girl!

  6. Marta Kavanagh says:

    I so relate to this Alexia. Although I live where my family is, this whole 3 kids and school thing is sooo alienating! I have such a small window of time to see other people, and I usually fill it with lame chores. And its hard to not feel a little pissed off when people that have always been around just aren't making an effort to see you anymore. But at the same time, you aren't able to do the things they're doing. I know how you feel, and I'm glad you're finding some ladies you like talking to.
    Also the mother cliques esist in the preschool world too. I don't get it…

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