i’ve started a mom’s group.

those words make me blush. rather self-consciously, like i’ve exposed a secret fetish for something turgidly wholesome. in my former baby-free life, i might have conjured up an image of a mom’s group founder as a rabidly perky, baby-obsessed keener, replete with matching tupperware and a “Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul” collection. which i swear i’m not. really. i own army boots. i wore them just last year. and i still have friends who don’t have kids, and i wouldn’t want them to think i’ve gone over to the Disney side entirely….hence the blushing. i do still read things other than “The Baby Whisperer”….in very short intervals.

but the fact is, i don’t really have friends who do have kids, at least not here, in the milk-stained, sleep-deprived flesh. and i’ve been feeling the lack, deeply. so this Wednesday afternoon mother’s group that i cobbled together with a few phone calls two weeks ago is actually something i’m kinda proud of. it’s the first time i’ve ever really been the one to take that first step with people i didn’t know well; the first time i’ve been willing to stick my neck out and try to make a group come together out of a scattered collection of individuals. i’ve spent the last twenty years or so letting people come to me…and i’ve been lucky. they’ve come – i am blessed in my friends. but asking new people to come, even just for coffee, sent me into paroxysms of adolescent angst.

the other mamas were acquaintances, mostly, or the friends of friends. i worried before i called them: would they think my mom’s group idea was lame? would they would think i was some kind of mom cheerleader, too earnest to hang out with? would they think i was deficient, eager to commiserate with other new mothers because of my inability to cope? was the city already clotted with groups, and was i advertising my sad isolation in not knowing anyone who’d invited me to join one? were their thighs already contracted to pre-baby size? would anyone even show up?

in the end, i got over myself and picked up the phone, four or five times over, and called them. and i noticed something that i probably would have noticed decades ago if i’d swallowed my insecurities and learned to initiate friendships better. it really wasn’t so risky, after all. they all came. they were happy to be asked. they, too, welcomed the chance to get out of the house and talk to adults. and they’re nice.

we don’t do much. we descend on a coffee-shop patio in the middle of the city and circle our prams like wagons, making ourselves and our babies a little oasis of shared experience. we talk. most conversations are erratic and unfinished: a baby cries or falls asleep or throws a rice biscuit into someone else’s stroller. the topics are mundane, mostly – sleep schedules, when to switch from three hours between feeds to four. how hurt and angry one of us was when flatly told not to bring her newborn to a friend’s wedding shower. how frustrated one of us (moi) is trying to find a foundation garment to wear under the bridesmaid’s dress i’ve got to squeeze myself into next week – who thought spaghetti straps were a good idea for a nursing mother? and how hard it is adding a second child to the mix of a family, and what babysitters come recommended, and how we’d really like to go to New York. not all mom stuff, just…talk.

the group is good for me. and i hope, as the babies grow, it’ll be good for Oscar too, in the socialization sense. but i think it’s already served a valuable purpose, in teaching me a lesson i hope i can pass on to little O, sometime before he hits thirty: it’s not so bad to reach out to people. and it’s much cooler to try to get what you want from the world than to freeze up and lament your loneliness.

if you try sometimes, you get what you need. trite, but true. thanks, Stones. thanks, fellow mamas in my group. see you Wednesday.