Villages are not built overnight.
My attempts to rapidly fabricate a village in our new town have been a kind of tragicomedy which you can possibly only appreciate when you’ve felt the happy desperation that is being a stay at home mom. (Happy because instead of working somewhere you’re home taking care of this infinitely adorable little person/desperate because some days you just HAVE to talk to someone else or go somewhere before you collapse in an angry, weeping heap.)
I started with a few google searches: moms’ groups in gaithersburg, new moms montgomery county, etc. Found a few leads but nothing much was coming up. A children’s consignment shop about an hour from here was having a baby sign language class, and that inspired me to search for baby sign language in my area. I found something – classes taught nearby! Awesome. But no… the last time a class was held was in 2009. Further digging revealed this teacher lives an hour away and only does private classes now.
I mentioned my frustration in a Facebook post, and got a hoard of comments from friends happily assuring me I needed neither a class nor a teacher to learn baby sign language – there were websites and DVDs galore, they chirped. “Oh, good,” I growled, “because I really need less adult interaction right now.” Yeah, if only I could spend more time with the internet and my television, I’d be loads better. A few friendly, helpful souls missed my sarcasm there and continued to offer suggestions till I had to be mean. “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears. I come not to learn anything in particular but to get out of the freakin’ apartment and find at least one or two other mothers of infants in this bedroom community of a suburb where I now live. Believe me, I can definitely keep going the hour into DC for everything I would like to do to be social with other moms, but wouldn’t it be nice if I could do something stimulating with other people within, say, 3-10 miles of my own home? I really could have googled baby sign on my own, or ordered videos from Amazon, or had a scintillating chat with a librarian… Best I can tell, the surest way to meet moms out here is to hang around the daycare centers at 5:30 or 6 and wave as they drive their SUVs past. Please forgive my snarkiness. I am looking for interesting activities with other people. Not another thing to do alone at home.”
I think the message was heard. Someone suggested meetup.com. I started hunting and found a cool group that did multilingual storytimes. Looking for when they were having another event, I discovered the last time any activity happened in this group was in 2010. SERIOUSLY?!
Someone suggested local library events. Guess what. The Gaithersburg library is under renovation and it’s interim location has limited programming. No story times. GAAAHHH!
That weekend, Zach was trying to cheer me up. I wanted some ice cream. We used Yelp to locate a nearby ice cream place and drove over there. Only, no ice cream place. I looked up the business on Yelp with the phone and sure enough.. the last review had been written in 2006. WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING? “This is like an episode of Twilight Zone.” I told my poor husband, “Something terrible happened to the once thriving community of mothers and ice cream eaters of Gaithersburg – they’re all gone. Obliterated. Am I next, or am I somehow causing it?” Like, whatever I look for is retroactively destroyed.
Well, he was not deterred and we drove around till we found ice cream. Turns out we inadvertently moved to the gross side of Gaithersburg. Apparently on the the other side of the highway is a lovely, ticky-tacky world of recently built townhomes and quick-rise “town squares” where Whole Foods, Cold Stone Creamery, Lowe’s, yoga studios, wine bars and dental offices all try to pretend they’ve been here longer than they have and their store fronts are not really strip malls. Not that we can afford the fancy stuff anymore, but we did eat expensive ice cream and bought vitamins and Honest Tea in Whole Foods and I felt a lot better that day.
Thanks to inertia, any move in one direction is more likely to continue in that same direction, and the improved outlook renewed my spirit. I hunted up some more meetup groups and finally found one with CURRENT ACTIVITIES. I immediately RSVP’d for a playdate happening next week, and also found another nearby library with a babies’ story time happening in just a couple days. I set up the event for the group, inviting them to join me at the story time and for coffee afterward. Three other moms RSVP’d yes – turns out only one made it, but we did have an awesome story time (there were many other moms/babies at the storytime, just not from this particular meetup group) and the one mom and I took our babies to the strip mall down the street and had coffee and chatted. It was extremely refreshing! I felt much better about the prospects of finding a community out here. And while the “village” of moms in these groups feels, right now, a lot like the quick-build, ticky-tacky townhouses of the high-dollar developments around us, it’s what we have. I’m not the only one quick-building a village – that we have in common.
Oh yeah, that awesome library story time – it was the last one till September. They don’t do story times over the summer. *grrrrrrrrrr…..*