Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mom Squads

It's no surprise to anyone that I've struggled with my identity ever since Andrew died.

I knew that I was a wife, daughter, and friend above all things. His death didn't define who I was, though it sure changed how I felt about existing in the world. The world didn't see me as a mom. Hell, I didn't see myself as a mom all that much either. I definitely was/am, but it was pretty hard to confirm those facts when you are still only caring for yourself, even after buying all that baby crap and gestating for nearly 39 weeks. I wanted everyone in the grocery store or passing by me on the street to know. But they didn't.

We visit parks everyday. Some days, we even make it to 4 parks! Benjamin just thrives around other children. No joke, if I see kids at the park across the street, I make a b-line for it. I don't know how to explain it to other people because they often see him in public settings that provide gobs of stimulation, but this boy is a full-fledged tantrum-throwing toddler. He was having one continuous meltdown this morning until I opened that car door. He basically sprinted, jumped into his carseat and off we were to a (faraway) park.

He's a whole different child when being fully engaged. And to most parents, he's pretty freaking pleasant. They don't know home-bound Benjamin. I fear winter.

We usually see an independent mom or two with their kiddos at our local parks. There are about 7 parks we visit within walking distance from our house on a regular basis. He's even well known by other kids and their parents. Ray was riding his bike with Benjamin through the "big red park" the other day and passed a family. Ray heard them say, "Hey, there goes Benjamin!" The kid is a little bit famous in our 'burb.

I don't mind talking with the others parents at the park. We usually get on about preschools and various other activities their kids are involved in-- almost always with parents whose kids are quite a bit older than Benjamin. It's fine with him that the kids are older, because he seems to have little interest in kids his age. But the big kids who will talk to him and faun all over him? Baby crack. Where these parents of 1.5 year olds are, I have no idea. Benjamin has to be out and about.

Despite feeling like a different kind of parent always, I still manage to be honest about our story and engage with the other adults. It's when we're at parks with mommy groups that I can't handle. I find a corner bench to sit on and practice breathing exercises. I have no desire to engage, introduce myself, make new friends... or any of that. Maybe if the mommy group was for parents of just one kid, but they never are. They're always toting around their double strollers, toddlers and babies.

And it makes me uneasy. This happened yesterday and I hermit-crabbed my way into a hole and only approached the scene when Benjamin was getting himself into a predicament. My subdivision even has a mommy group. They advertise in the monthly bulletin (yes, it's pretty much perfect little suburbia) about the mommy group on facebook. Perfect excuse to avoid-- I don't do facebook.

There's a fine line between avoiding those groups because they're a grief trigger for me and knowing what's best for my son. Even before Andrew died, I never pictured myself involved in these mommy groups. They didn't seem like my style. I'm more rogue and less rule-driven, or at least that's how I've always viewed my outlook. Tantrums aside, little brother's growing up pretty well... mommy group attendee or not.


Nicole said... [Reply to comment]

I guess this is one reason I'm so thankful to have you're my mom squad.

Actual mommy groups make my chest tighten, heart pound, and my palms sweat. I avoid them at all costs.

JoyAndSorrow said... [Reply to comment]

OMG, girl, I JUST blogged about the dreaded double stroller (check it out if you're so inclined!). Even though I push one myself now, whenever I see them out in public, I think "twins, oh no". Huge grief trigger sometimes (but not always, which is odd). Your post has helped me get a little more out of self-pity mode. You've helped me to realize that it's not JUST twinlostmamas who hate seeing double strollers. We're all in this together, regardless of our loss type. I still so relate to all you said. And while I wish none of us felt sick at the sight of a double stroller, it also helps me so much to know that I am not alone in this. Thanks for helping me wallow a little less in my self pity. ~Lindsay

Veronica said... [Reply to comment]

I feel the on the mommy group note. Even before Alexander died, I didn't see myself going to those "gatherings" unless they were centered around some type of adult fueling - like yoga, or hiking...

I feel I'm changing more and more every day with Theodore being here.. I still grieve deeply that person I might have been sans loss. I felt I had such a vision in my parenting style. As if my identity revolved around how I would raise my child. Now, with the loss and all the hard hard hard emotions at come vision is so blurred regarding my future parenting. It's all filled with so much self doubt.

Interacting with other moms is something I know I'll have to do more of eventually, and it's a huge anxiety trigger.

Amelia said... [Reply to comment]

We went to the birthday party of G's little friend from story time and it was like Procreation Capital. I was the only one there with a singleton, everyone else had at least 2, up to 4, the adults were my age, most kids younger than G. It was out of control and really really upsetting. I was totally caught off guard. Ugh.

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

Mom squads are hard for me. I find myself feeling very much like and outsider and very bitter and defensive. Just make for not the best emotions.

I love that B loves older kids so much. But UGH! I wish he had his older brother here to follow around. He is a social bug, love that.

LookItsJessica said... [Reply to comment]

I think a mommy-group would be difficult and also, they are often too religious based here in Ohio. That's not really my thing, but I totally understand the bitter feelings other commenters were talking about. I want mom-friends but the idea of organized mommy-ing is kinda strange. Super cute that Benjamin loves other (older) kids. We go to parks a lot too, it breaks up the days nicely. After one, I'm so tired, I don't know you can do 4!