The "Me" in "Meetup".

Well, I have done it. I've officially joined a meetup group. I haven't been to a meetup meeting of this group yet. But I will tomorrow and I'm nervous.

You see, I am not really the "meetup" type of gal.

I've discovered this about myself after having Poops. Lots of moms join these groups when they begin their journeys staying at home. Moms groups, meetup groups, play dates...
It all sounds so nice and social and fun and frilly. It really does. And when I read about them online and even go as far as setting up a profile and contacting the organizer, why is it that I let my free membership run out and completely balk at attending any of the functions? Without fail.

I don't know why. It used to be that I was insecure as a new mom. Like I had my "Hi! My name is NEW MOM and I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing" name tag on. I didn't have a view on discipline and organic food and potty training and education and diapering and medicines and all of that. And I worried about not being a member of the "cool" mom club because I had no idea what I was doing and I worried that my identity crisis may be showing.

Then, there was (and is) the fear of saying something stupid. I don't know where it went, but my social skills need sharpening. (Maybe a meetup would have helped me here, yes, I see the irony.)

Even in softball where I joined a group of complete strangers, I'm pretty quiet. We're four games in and I only just found out that none of these people know each other from work at all like I had previously thought. And since they all know each other from playing together forever, they rarely ask me questions about myself so I have to dig and I'm not the digging type (unless I'm conducting an interview or at a press conference where it warrants such). But that's ok, because it's softball, and you're busy doing things. It's not like you're sitting at a mall or playground with people staring at you thinking, "God why isn't she talking!" And there's awkward silence there. Because you're running or hitting or fielding or catching and there's something to fill up the awkward spaces. That's my type of meetup.

Maybe there's something I dread about standing up in front of a group of girls and saying, "Hi, I'm Christie.. and I'm a blah blah blahdy blah and I have two kids blah blah and blah." Because, honestly? You've read all about my reliving-my-youth-how-on-earth-did-I-get-this-old-identity crises here. I'm in the middle of my re-invention! I don't know who I am right now! There's something about journalism in here, I've heard something about being a stay at home mom, I do have a minivan after all that has two carseats in it...I like to think there's some athleticism in here somewhere, I'm ruffling around and finding a wife in here too, maybe even someone who likes to go out and have fun dancing, drinking tea, making jewelry and being a friend, sister, daughter? Or something? But you don't say that stuff in your intro..

So. I really am not sure what to even say at that original stand-up-introduction-thing. Because I know exactly who I was before I had kids, I am working on who I am with kids, but I still don't have a working title-description of myself because I don't think "Stay at home mom" accurately describes it. Not that there's anything wrong with that stand-alone title. Maybe I just don't want a title, ok? Can I just remain title-less for now? Why do we need titles and labels anyway? And since we wear so many hats as women anyway, why do we pick just one title to describe us? And what is the process for choosing that one title above all the others?

It suddenly occurred to me that I may be overthinking things.

The great thing about this particular meetup group is that it is for preemie moms. And I know a little something about that. A dear friend of mine who also had a preemie (30 weeks) found this group and joined it and told me about it. She is totally the meetup type. And I'm glad she'll be there because I don't think I'd have the nerve to fly solo. I'd probably decide last minute not to go like I do every other time.

The funny thing is, during all my self-reflection (with help of blogging), I have come to terms with the "hows" and the "whys" of my having a preemie and I have since healed from the whole scary thing, (having an almost 41-weeker has helped me with that too); so why do I feel the need for a meetup group about it right now?

My husband mentioned this very thing to me in an aside and I realized that mommies and daddies have completely different perceptions and views on the subject. I believe that if you've had a preemie you are always "a preemie mom" (again, why the label? I don't know). Maybe because it is a word that describes an unspeakably scary experience for everyone involved. And while you've gained a million zillion good things out of it (like your baby), you always feel some sense of loss with a pregnancy that ended too early. And guilt. And all of that.

But you see, husbands, (or at least mine), they are able to see the black-and-white of it. Yes, he was born early, but he is healthy now so it's over. Period. End of story. And that's a great point. Because you very rarely hear about someone describing themselves as a "preemie dad". If anyone's doing the describing, it's likely a wife talking about her husband. Because a man just doesn't call himself that. At least my man doesn't.

So then I thought what a wonderful thing this meetup group is. Because even husbands, who are physically there with you while you have this little baby (early) and while you're furiously pumping to try and feed your baby while away from him/her, and when you're going through mental breakdowns because you don't know why your baby came early and you're not allowed to care for him/her yourself or even hold or feed him/her, even he doesn't get the whole scope of it. Simply because it isn't his body. He's watching someone else's body go through all these hormonal, leaky, internal-thinking-nesses. So mommies truly need the support of other mommies who have been there. Because they get it. And some of these mommies in this group still have babies in the NICU right at this very moment. And to that I say HOLY GOODNESS, kudos to them for being able to meet up at all!! Because I never would have been to at that time in my life. (I didn't!) And that is a "strong" I wish I had then. I will remember to tell them that when I go.

Now suddenly my little social vulnerabilities don't seem so important when I type that all out and I think that's why I joined this one. It's somehow easier for me to join a meetup where you have just a little more than "mom" in common. I'll let you know tomorrow what I've come up with for my intro.
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  1. You're brave! But I hope it turns out well for you. :)

  2. What a great post. I'm not a preemie-mother, and I can't know what you went through, but I do know that it has to be painstakingly hard. And I could see how it would become a label. And I agree with you about the man perception -- I know my husband would be over it as soon as the baby was okay and home, but I highly doubt I ever would. So, good luck to you and hope you enjoy this group, and hope it helps.

  3. Wow, Christie. Wow. Such a really excellent post on so many levels, and I can relate to some of it, even coming from a totally different place.

    As chatty as I am? I tend to be *VERY* quiet when first meeting people. Hard to believe, but true.

    Identity? Ever since I came back from Japan and have watched it fade into my background, I've struggled with who I am today when that is still so much a part of me and so much more cool and even glamorous (maybe just to me) than anything I'm likely to do again. I've mostly come to terms with the idea that what I do for a living is not who I am, but it's still tough sometimes.

    You being there as someone who has been there and going to the meetup for preemie moms? Is priceless, wonderful, sweet, awesome, amazing, helpful, selfless, and will surely be much appreciated. I admire you. I bet you will get something beautiful out of it as well. Something about being around others who understand. I wouldn't have considered the lasting feelings of having a preemie - and I'm probably like a lot of these womens' friends, not getting it unless someone like you is there sharing your experience.

    You rock. I loved this post.

  4. Who am I? I don't know. Not sure. I'm not the lunch lady. That I know for sure ;)
    And I know I'm not a meet up mom either. But I've tried to drag myself to something. I joined WW (not at the moment but in the past) and that was uncomfortable. But I enjoyed it once I did it. And I joined a food allergy support group (because I label myself "allergy mom"). And that was uncomfortable. I now I enjoy that. And I get fulfillment out of that. But I need to do something fun. JUST.FOR.ME. Like a book club or something. But I don't know anyone and I'm shy. No really. And v.e.r.y. quiet until I get to know someone. It's painful. But maybe I'll take your lead.
    Thanks for the great post:)

  5. Hope it goes well! There is something about sharing common tragedies/problems with other mothers that I find wonderful, even though I struggle with some of the same issues you do and don't make it to our English mothers' group here in Mozambique as much as I should . . .

  6. Holy cow... There's so much in this post I'm not sure how to comment. I think I'll go with what seemed to permeate throughout.. The need/desire to belong or fit in. At least that's what I saw. (Maybe becuase it's something on my mind as well.)

    I've spent so much of my life feeling like the odd man out. I tend to assume everyone else is better, smarter, prettier, has more friends, has more.. everything.

    Wouldn't it be nice if I (we) didn't think or worry about those things?

    I hope you make it to the meeting.

  7. I think kids have a way of forcing us to do things we may not want to do...like joining groups. I mean, did you ever need a support group before? Motherhood is loaded with expectations that...let's face it...none of us can meet entirely. It is the most important thing we can do and no one really knows what they are doing. So, we scramble around and make it up as we go along and hope that no one is noticing that you have no idea what you are doing. Talk about vulnerablity!!Great, thought-prevoking post:-)


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