Photo by: NPA

Fear and Loathing at the Moms' Club

by Robin Pittfield
Photo by: NPA

The pages were stacked neatly on the kitchen table, and I regarded them with the same anxiety I would normally reserve for a bikini wax from a beauty student. It was my first moms’ club application.

I had fallen into a routine of counting down the minutes until my husband came home, and, upon his arrival, I would greet him by tossing the baby at him and running off to lock myself in a closet for few quiet minutes. I was pretty sure this wasn’t great for our marriage. I needed another plan, and everywhere I turned, I got the same advice – Mom’s Club.

Resolved, I set out to try Club #1. They were having a Saturday morning book club, and, really, if I couldn’t bond with these ladies over books, I had nothing. I easily spotted the knot of mommies at the appointed café and drew in a deep breath when I noticed something – I was easily ten years older than almost every mom there.

During the course of book club, I dazzled no one with my amazing reading list and thoughtful analysis. Rather, they dazzled me. First, with the history of the moms’ club. Turns out, they had founded this particular club after being booted out of the teen moms’ club. Rather unfairly it seemed, as one mom complained, “Really, I’m only 20!” And second with their solemn attention to the image of the club. They had recently been on a mothers’ night out at Joe’s Crab Shack, and someone had posted the pictures they took down their blouses to the website. The mom in charge gave them all a scolding reminder this was bad form.

I’m not judging young moms at all. In fact, the moms were all very gracious and welcoming. It just wasn’t the right fit for me. I soldiered on.

Next up, Club #2 was having a mothers’ night out at local pottery painting shop. The moms turned out to be roughly my age, but it was clear to me from the get-go these ladies all knew each other very, very well. I stood to the side and pretended to really concentrate on which piece of pottery I wanted to paint, while they greeted each other with compliments and hugs. I finally picked out a plate and spent the rest of the night at the loser table with another mom who just nodded nervously at the coffee cup she was painting. I listened to the other moms giggle and gossip at the table right behind me and really thought I might cry. No one said hello to me until it was time to leave.

At this point, my prospects were dimming and my hopes were dashed, but I decided to give it one last try. Moms’ Club #3 was hosting a playdate at a mall, and I hesitantly packed up my son and went. As I sat taking off our shoes, a woman in her 30s with a son only two months older than mine sat down next to me and smiled. A few more moms came and smiled. Someone broke the ice with, “Did you ever picture yourself doing this for real?” Everyone laughed, but I’m pretty sure I was in tears. But this time it was because – hallelujah! – I had done it. I had found a moms’ club, and…that woman in her 30s? She became my best friend.

Robin is a writer who happens to stay at home with her son.

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42 Comments

I still feel the way you did with Club 1 & 2. I'm usually a very friendly & outgoing person, but I'm having a hard time relating to other Mom's.

A few years back we signed up my son, the eldest, in soccer. Everyone seemed to already know each other & weren't really looking to add any "members" to their club. When he started school I signed up for the PTA and same thing. Everyone already had their little inside jokes which made me feel more of an outsider...

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Breaking into any pre-existing group is hard. Relationships, no matter how tenuous or shallow or situational, make those who are already part of the group feel secure and connected to each other. I've been a new-comer to many different types of groups and as outgoing and "jump right in there" as I am, I still struggle to connect sometimes.

As I'm still a part of several groups myself, this post was an excellent reminder for me to LOOK for the one trying to fit in, break in, connect with others...

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I loved this article. I have had the hardest time finding other Moms that I can truly, truly relate to. I live in a town where most of the other Moms looked glamorous every day, even just to drop their kids off at school. I am most comfortable in sweats and sneakers, especially if I'm just taking care of my 2 small children all day. So I feel like I automatically don't fit in, because we're dressed so differently...

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I think we have all soldiered through finding the right fit. I have a great playgroup, and even found a best friend...whose husband became my husband's good friend....then a year later they moved out of state. I am devastated. I had finally found a friend, someone I could relate to, someone whose husband mine got along with. Someone whose kids I like and more importantly, my children liked them. So I soldier on trying to find someone new again. But at least I have a playgroup.

It is so true that trying to fit in to a pre existing moms club can be difficult. I was blessed when I first began my quest for a group. The second group I sought had a woman (now one of my best friends) who immediately welcomed me and made me feel as if I were part of the group for a while. This was six years ago and though I am working now, I try to take any opportunity I can to talk with moms and invite them to these groups...

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Well I wasn't considering joining a Mom's Club, I confess my ignorance on the whole subject. But here I am with tears pooling in my eyes, with a jealous fit for strangers who get to talk to adults sometimes. I love my precious daughter, I never thought I'd get to have another one and I tend to cling and lavish her with affection and most of the time I'm happiest spending time with her...

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It's always been puzzling to me that as women we are so giving, so gracious, so unrelentingly loving with our families, and yet so very hard on each other. It's so difficult to find one female, much less a group of them, with whom we feel comfortable. But we do need each other's support. Thanks for your wonderful responses so far. And I really do hope any mom who feels alone out there doesn't give up until she finds a friend or -gasp!- group of friends.

I love the second message of this, which is to keep trying. I'm not a 'group person' at all, but decided to keep in touch with a group of mothers I met through a hospital-hosted 'New Mom's Group'...

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I didn't like my moms club either - i only tried one and that's all it took. It was very cliquey and i felt that if you didn't have the same background, forget it. Another thing that bothered me about this moms club was that the mommies would often bring their nannies to watch their kid play while the moms chatted it up in the other room. Um, it's a moms club for a reason, right? I had better luck at the playground talking to random parents.

Here's a suggestion ... most of us attend prenatal classes (at least with our first kid) and, often, the other ladies in the class are just as scared and insecure as you ... not to mention that you're all likely to have kids around the same time! What I did was get their names and numbers after our first Prenatal "lesson". After the kids were born, we BECAME the Mom & Tot group - it was so easy to keep meeting once a week and share stories while we kept an eye on our babies...

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It makes me so sad to hear stories like your experience in club 1 and 2. However I find it interesting that when you brought your son to #3 it was easier to connect with someone. I started a moms group when my daughter was born three yrs ago that was very successful and eventually led to launching SassyMomsintheCity.com. In the beginning it never crossed my mind to host a get together without the kids until we had all gotten to know one another really well...

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I enjoyed reading your article. When I moved from PA to TX, I knew no one and quickly decided to try to find some women my age and or with the same age as my children. My first experience at a MOMS club event was amazing! They welcomed me and it was a perfect fit. In fact, being in that organization saved me from depression and loneliness. My husband travelled full time, so it was just me...

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After relocating in July, I am going through this now. I miss the Mom's group I had at our previous home. I'm still searching for a Mom's group in the new area. One group that I emailed for more info never responded. Talking to a soon to be first time mom that I know, we reached the conclusion that connecting with people in this area is a lot harder than some places. Hopefully I can find my #3 soon!

Robin, You are a great testament to the power of perseverence. Just think how much stronger of a person you have become. You will be able to share your experiences with your child as he grows and empower him as well.
GREAT JOB MOM!!

Try looking for a Kindermusik class in your area. It is a great place to bond with moms with children the same age as yours and also have fun with your child making music and learning.

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