Since Karlie Jean mentioned my Meetup experience on For All Momkind today, I figured I should probably write about it...
When Rory was a newborn, his pediatrician recommended that we not take him out in public until he was 5 or 6 months old. In Utah, RSV and Whooping Cough run pretty rampant, and the effects are devastating. I had read enough horror stories online that I completely agreed and vowed to never take him out except for doctor's appointments. Over the next few months I pretty much stuck with my decision, we did end up taking him to grandparents houses a few times to be babysat, but that was it. By the time he was 2 months old, he had only been in 4 total places.
When we arrived in Washington, I set out to church by myself while Dalan stayed home with Rorasaurus. Everyone at church was shocked when they heard I was keeping my 2 month old home. Apparently its not something you do up here. When I took Rory to his new pediatrician she was also shocked, "Why wouldn't you take him out right now? He'll just sleep in his car seat, it's not like strangers are going to walk up and lick him."
With all of my postpartum hormones causing havoc, we finally decided one day to get out of the house. We took a trip to IKEA, and it was the best time I'd had in months. Rory was totally chill and didn't mind at all. No strangers walked up and licked him, at most he got a few waves. And I was in mommy heaven. You know that high you get when your kid is perfectly behaved and you think "I totally rock this, I could have like 12 kids, no problem." it's always short-lived, but those moments are absolutely the bomb.
I attempted to make friends at church, but my social anxiety always seemed to get in the way. I would try so hard to be extra bubbly and smile a lot, but thats not who I am, and I ended up even more uncomfortable.
I ended up turning to the internet, as I usually do, and I came across a group of moms one town over, who meetup to talk over coffee. I attended one of these meetups, and still felt so out of place (with my carmel apple cider), the demographics from their town were so much different from my own. Most of them had a summer and winter home, trips to Hawaii planned, and an au pair to watch their kids. They were nice enough and let me officially join the groups online website. This was hosted thru Meetup.com.
After I had taken a few minutes to navigate the website, I found out that there was a lot more than just this rich mommy's group. You just enter your zip code, and it will give you all of the meetups within a certain range. You can set preferences and interests so it suggests new groups for you as well. In my area there are literally hundreds of groups and they cover all different interests. There are groups for photography, hiking, dog lovers, stay at home moms, single parents, religious parents, non-religious parents, geeky parents, browncoats, trekkies, etc. Desperate for some friends, I promptly joined 4 different groups and hoped that I would find some kindred spirits.
Immediately after joining a group for young couples with young children, the organizer emailed me and asked about my son's name. "Did you by chance name him after a character from Doctor Who?" She went on to explain that she and her husband were expecting and were planning on naming their baby after Rory's wife on the show, Amelia. Not only was this a funny coincidence, it really helped with my social anxiety, I knew I had something in common with her, and I was able to communicate with her via email a few times before we met in person, which made a huge difference. Although we don't have a ton in common beyond our love for the show, we had now made our 'Doctor Who' friends, and I was excited to go out and make some more.
Another group I joined on Meetup was for moms in my city. This group actually had sub-playgroups that were organized depending on your child's age. I was able to join one with 7 other mamas and babies. This group has been the best thing thats happened to me since we moved out here. All of the babies in our playgroup were born in 2012, so Rory is one of the youngest. I'm able to vent with other moms who have had, or are going thru, the exact same things as me. With 8 moms and babies, its impossible to not find something in common with someone. We meet once a week, and Rory and I both enjoy ourselves thoroughly.
Once I felt established in our playgroup, I started venturing out to other meetups within the local group. The meetups are created by the members, and then posted on the website for others to RSVP to. Now that I knew a few people from playgroup, I could attend other meetups along with one or two of them and feel comfortable enough to meet new people. This has started a chain reaction that is really helping my social life. The more people I meet, the more meetups I want to attend so I can see my new friends. At the meetups I meet even more new people, and so it goes. I was experiencing a new mommy high at this point, and when a few of the organizers of the local group announced they were leaving and looking for replacements, I jumped at the chance.
As a member of the organizer team, I feel like I have a little more purpose than just cleaning the house and taking care of the baby. My duties are very similar to my pre-baby job, and I get to do some of the things I really love like create reports, track website activity, and manage Facebook pages. It just takes a few hours every week, and I can usually get everything accomplished during nap time. I feel so much more fulfilled now, I have new friends, many opportunities to get out of the house and play, and I get to spend a few sans-baby hours every week doing something I love. I've even bowed out of most of the other meetup groups I had joined so far, not that there was anything wrong with them, but I've found my best fit and want to spend my energy improving this group.
I highly recommend that you check out Meetup.com and see if there is anything that interests you in your area. If not, you should think about starting your own group, chances are someone else is interested in the exact same things as you, and just waiting for the right group to come along!