Before having a child I heard about mommy groups; I was not interested. They sounded like grown up versions of high school cliques, and that system hadn't worked out well for me in high school. The first in person mommy group I went to was everything I feared it would be. My son was two months old, we hadn't been out or socialized much, and the group was meeting within walking distance of our house, so we braved it. Together he and I sat on cushions on the floor with a big group of other moms and babies for an hour. It felt like one long stream of new moms looking for validation of their parenting choices, and then sizing up the choices of others as they were offered up. It was uncomfortable, the conversation was stilted, and definitely didn't provide me with any sense of solidarity or community.
Thankfully for me, I had already found a supportive, loving virtual community of moms. I think I was lulled into joining because we all joined the private Facebook group early in pregnancy. We were women who had used the fertility tracking app Kindara, many shared my experience of miscarriage, and all through our pregnancies we supported each other and crowdsourced answers for morning sickness and round ligament pain and high chair choices. Our group members all had due dates within a few months of each other, so as time went on, the babies and birth stories started rolling in, and it was so exciting and reassuring to watch my internet friends slowly bring their babies into the world. When I had my son I needed some stitches after birth, and as I awkwardly laid there and tried to ignore the pain of being stitched up, I updated my Kindara girls about my son's birth. A year into parenthood, this group still sustains and supports me in my toughest times, and celebrates milestones with me. I have managed to meet with one of the moms and her beautiful family in person; our group lives all over the world, and I look forward to meeting more of my friends as my son gets bigger and we do some traveling. These women are my coworkers; we all just work remotely. We are all working at the same task, sharing resources, checking in, chatting over coffee when we have a free minute.
As my son has gotten older, having in person mom friends has become increasingly important. I have met all of my very best local mom friends through my local chapter of Babywearing International. The first time I went to one of their mom/baby play groups I was so elated and relieved; these moms and I had a lot in common, and everyone was pretty willing to be real about their parenting experience. I also have loved meeting other caregivers through BWI because they have children of all different ages, and I really value the support and wisdom of parents of older kids, as well as the solidarity of those with kids my tiny guy's age. These local moms are the ones that will drive over with a cup of coffee when I am all out and my child is sick. They are the people I can call to hang out with my son while I go to a doctor's appointment for myself. These are the people whose kids are my son's first friends. One of the biggest fears I had leaving the workforce was losing the socialization and support that my wonderful coworkers offered me, but I've found my coworkers in parenthood. We problem solve together, we have each other's backs, and I am so relieved to know that I don't have to settle for cliquey mommy groups, I can still have amazing coworkers as a stay at home mom.