A confluence of evil factors has made the last few weeks suck. First, my husband's busy season at work has started, and with a vengeance. This is good, but the intensity of this year's start has had him working 16+ hour days. I have hardly seen him for two and a half weeks. A quick "hi, honey" at 6:30 AM before he leaves for the day and maybe half an hour when he gets home in the evening, before we each fall asleep from total exhaustion, has been all the time with him I've had. That sucks in and of itself, but added to that, my kids both got sick about a week and a half ago and are just now both fully recovered. It was a terrible shopping cart-borne flu or infection that made them both very sick for about 7 days each. That wasn't enough in the case of my 3-year-old, who developed pink eye as a final insult. So not only was my husband effectively gone for the last few weeks, my daughters and I couldn't go anywhere due to illness. It's been like house arrest.
We finally got out for a great playdate with Dana and her kids today, which was just what we all needed. We don't see them everyday or every week, though, partly because we're all busy and partly because we live about 20 minutes away in a different suburb. I have tried hard to make friends in my neighborhood and in my suburb, and one of the things I tried was to join two different "Mommy Groups."
The first group had a booth at the farmer's market and they seemed really friendly. I grabbed an information packet from them and I was so optimistic and happy, thinking this would be a surefire way to make some local friends. I went home, filled out the form on their website and awaited a reply. They replied promptly, saying they couldn't accept my membership until they could interview me in person.
What?! They needed to interview me? Personally, I had enough of snobby cliques in high school, so I told them that wasn't necessary, I was no longer interested. All I wanted was some other moms to meet up with at the park... I wasn't trying to join a sorority.
Later, I saw a handout for another mommy group in my suburb at the library. I grabbed one, took it home and went to their website, an extremely sparse page that contained only a contact e-mail address. I e-mailed and waited... and waited... and waited... for a response. Three weeks later, I got a response from the "Vice President of New Membership" (*snicker*... WHATEVER) telling me to please address future e-mails to a different address, because she didn't check this one often. I was tempted to point out that the address I'd used was the one on their website and if she's the "Vice President of New Membership," she should be monitoring it, but I held my tongue and replied to the specified address, sending my home address for an information packet.
Another two weeks later, the info packet finally arrived. In it was page upon page of rules and regulations. There is a mandatory monthly meeting and childcare is provided. You have to rotate manning the childcare room with the other members. When you are in a monthly meeting, you may not go check on your children in the childcare room... it will just upset them, which will in turn upset the other children.
Riiiight. I walked over to the recycling bin to deposit the information packet immediately upon reading this, but I kept reading as I walked. The control freakery went even deeper than that. One of the reasons I wanted to join a mommy group was to meet other moms of toddlers so we could form playgroups. This group did not allow you to meet, decide you like each other and then form a playgroup organically. No, all playgroups were set up and scheduled by a Playgroup Administrator (once again... WHATEVER). You didn't get to just become friends first, you would be randomly thrown together with whomever and wherever the Playgroup Administrator decided.
To add insult to injury, this mommy group was for stay-at-home moms ONLY. If you had to go back to work ("for economic reasons," the paperwork stipulated), you were out of the group. That's right, kicked out. So if you weren't depressed enough about having to go back to work, getting kicked out of this ridiculous group ought to be enough to send you over the edge.
Into the recycling bin the information packet went. Since then, I have not even tried to join another "mommy group," having decided from these two experiences that they are for women who don't feel important enough just being mothers (and who may be insane), but instead have to create a work-like environment for themselves with rules and administrators, a hierarchy and bosses.
Instead, I am trying to make friends the old-fashioned way, foregoing mommy groups, meetups and the like. It's slow going, but I feel very fortunate to have the few friends that I do, who are real friends, not people thrown together with me by a Playgroup Administrator.