A week ago I handed my grumpy, teething child to my husband and ran off to join a
circus group of local bloggers at The Wonder Jam, which the balder half of said Wonder Jam called a gathering of the tribe of weirdos. (I did go back home eventually, for the record.) With the help of icebreakers and an extroverting wingman buddy, I left having successfully made conversation with strangers and feeling more like a person than I have in…probably too long.
It is mildly ironic that when I was in college, I could not wait to be a stay-at-home mom/Stepford wife/Martha Stewart without the jail part. I was totally going to be a homemaking whiz, adding my whimsical personal touch to the artfully curated home I would share with my eventual mythical husband. (I honestly am not sure how this delusion managed to settle in my brain, considering I hated making my bed.) My six children (BA.HA.HA.HA.) would all be impeccably behaved angels and gently homeschooled geniuses.
While staying home this school year was undoubtedly the best decision for our family and one I would choose again in a heartbeat, it has also been harder than I expected…a lot harder. I thought that because I had no defined career ambitions that leaving the workplace would be easy. I didn’t realize that I needed the structure, goals, social contact, and external feedback that work provided so much. I thought that I would be toting Fire Monkey to all manner of Mommy & Me activities around town. I didn’t realize…well, several things; 1) how bloody difficult it is to pack an infant and all his accompanying paraphernalia needed to keep him functional (especially during the noodle-neck newborn stage) into a car; 2) how not punctual babies are; 3) how quickly one forgets how to talk to adults when one spends all day with a tiny mammal; and 4) how much said mammal cannot meaningfully participate in and does not care about said Mommy & Me activities. I thought I would be blogging the Pinterest-worthy baby and home projects I would complete with all my spare time. I’m…just gonna let you figure out what was wrong in that assumption.
(In my defense, at least I never once harbored the delusion that paternity leave was going to “be like a vacation” where we could “hang out at home with the baby and play video games and maybe learn some programming.” I don’t know anybody who thought that, I promise.)
A few months ago I got the idea to seek out other stay-at-home-moms through a local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. So I packed up the baby and the car and went to their first meeting of the school year and was promptly overwhelmed by the amount of extroverting required to sit and smile at a room full of 50 strangers. Don’t get me wrong, everyone was very friendly and welcoming and the breakfast casseroles were on point, but I didn’t feel like I was able to make any meaningful connections in a group that size even though we were all mothers and probably had had similar experiences to share. (I eventually met up with one of the ladies from the group and she recommended I try the Mom’s Night Out gatherings, which are smaller and less formal. For now I just kinda lurk on the Facebook page…because that’s the only way I remember how to socialize…)
But last week’s meeting with the tribe of weirdos was different. For starters, I’ve been to events at The Wonder Jam before and knew at least 3 people in the room already, and had a buddy who kindly guided me through introductory conversations and gently reminded me to mention that I have a blog and, uh, a child. Right. But more importantly, I shared something with everyone in the room besides motherhood, though there were plenty of business-moms (not all of whom are mommy bloggers) in attendance. We were all building our little (or big!) empires. Most of us were bloggers and/or content creators. All of us wanted to hear and be heard, know and be known.
I left having learned about lots of local people doing lots of cool things. I made a friend (I think…Internet friendships are tricky to define) and found a collaborator. I was motivated to burrow deeper into this tribe of weirdos and welcome others in. I’ll start my business coaching later this week to start bringing some visions to life. I put together a small mastermind of business bloggers and it gives me so much life to write, teach, and encourage other women in business. As much as I love being Mom, I have to be something else beyond that. The tribe of weirdos lets me discover what that is.