Ah, the weekly respite known as playgroup. Like a movie serial from the 1930’s , we catch up where we left off last week. How many teeth are coming in? What birthdays are coming up? Is anyone standing or walking yet? Then we get to the really good stuff. Mind you, our small coastal community has less than 50,000 people, so this part is typically short. Any new restaurants in town? Where are the best supermarket deals? What parks have swings for small babies? Again, small town.
It wasn’t always the paradise described above. I remember a time in the beginning where I contemplated not going at all. My first playgroup was at the group organizer’s home and she was very pleasant and welcoming. The other moms trickled in over the next few minutes and before long the living room floor was packed with newborns, pre-toddlers, moms and me. Another dad actually showed up to. I was impressed! Maybe this playgroup thing will work out. That jubilation didn’t last long. This playgroup was his first and last. I would have to be the lone representative for all stay-at-home-dads everywhere.
The conversation quickly turned to breastfeeding. This didn’t bother me so much because my wife was breastfeeding and I was somewhat used to it. Then, actual breastfeeding started to happen with one of the moms sitting a few people away. I panicked. My first thought was to look away. My second was, maybe she overlooked me and doesn’t realize I’m here. Perhaps I should make an announcement that I am actually in the room. Then another mom right next to me started to breastfeed. Again, I quickly diverted my eyes in another direction. Then another mom began and another and another. Before long, most of the moms in the room were breastfeeding and I was alternating my eyesight from floor to ceiling and back again. I thought, I have to get out of here before my eyes explode.
Just then, the mom next to me asked if I minded that she was breastfeeding. Of course I said it was okay and thought she needs to do what she needs to do for her infant. I then thought of my wife and what she has to put up with when she breastfeeds in public. I was being selfish with these women. They’re only doing what comes natural between mother and child.
After a few playgroups I decided to join the conversation and not be the quiet guy in the corner potentially making these women feel uncomfortable. Of course, not knowing much about reality TV, clothing sizes and pedicures (not stereo-typing, this is what they were talking about), I gambled and started to talk about baseball. Surprisingly enough, a few of the moms took interest and before long, we were talking stats, batting averages and who should be traded. It was like I was slamming back beers with the guys in a bar.
I really enjoy my new found friends at playgroup. We meet all over the place now, parks, museums, restaurants, and this week, we’re going to a pumpkin patch that has rides and a petting zoo for the children. It’s opened my eyes to a whole new world. I know this may sound boring to some dads, but this is our life now. It’s no longer only about us, so embrace it.
I appreciate your interest.