As a new, suburban housewife and mother who doesn’t know anyone in the suburbs, I’ve been making some attempts to branch out and socialize.
Apparently, loneliness and an aching feeling of isolation are common among new mothers in the suburbs because there are a number of organizations that host casual, baby-friendly get-togethers. Presumably the ladies who attend such events are open to connecting with other ladies, meeting new people, and generally being warm and welcoming. Then why are these events often so depressing?
Everyone sits clutching their babies in their laps (Suffering Contest?), and I want to scream, “Put your baby down and talk to each other like human beings!” My baby usually lies quietly in his stroller and I wonder if I’m supposed to pick him up. If he cries I’ll change him and feed him, but I always wonder if there’s another contest happening that I’m not aware of, like if you hold your baby the longest and interrupt a potentially interesting vein of conversation to focus on your baby you get a trophy for Most Devoted Mother. If the event is depressing enough, I’ll repeatedly turn to my baby in his stroller and stroke his cheek to try to prove I’m not a selfish bitch so the other mothers will like me. When I do this, my baby always opens his eyes a crack and looks at me wisely, like he’s willing me the strength to keep trying to make banal conversation so that he can get invited to somebody’s pool parties in a few years.
Inevitably my baby is one of the youngest at any given event, prompting other ladies to exclaim, “You’re so good taking him out like this already! When MY baby was that young, I was a MESS!”, which sounds like a compliment but always makes me feel terrible for some reason.
I have a house and a husband and a car and a baby so I guess I’m a grown up, right? So why do I feel like I’m in high school again?
There seem to be unspoken rules that I don’t understand and can never get right.