When I was a teen, a college student, and finally, a young adult in the world, I heard many, many things about what to expect when I had a child. Because, of course, I would have a child. I wanted children. Of course, it would happen in good time, right?
In high school, I can’t remember exactly how I learned the details of episiotomy, but I do remember that the knowledge messed me up. An incision — a snipping — of the tissue between the vaginal opening and the anus believed for years to aid in childbirth. It’s not as common a practice now. Yay.
In my junior year of college, a dorm-mate dropped out late in her pregnancy. A group of us visited her after the birth. We watched spellbound as she unveiled what used to be a highly sexual breast so that the baby could feed from it. She admitted that sometimes the baby’s sucking turned her on.
Years later, during one of my best friend’s pregnancies, she told me that a horrific bout of hemorrhoids left her crying on the bathroom floor.
If I’d actually given birth to a child, all this info would have been helpful. Child-Free Me, on the other hand, only heard a lot of assumptions and opinions from others. Hard facts? Those I had to figure out for myself.
In talking with Momfriends, or rather, women who I wanted to be my Momfriend, I realized many have access to a vast social network that exists like a secret Harry Potter avenue. They didn’t necessarily ask for or want the network, but it’s at their disposal just the same. Repeated occasions to be social, to meet new adults and to mine new business connections. All with people already vetted to have something in common with them: parenthood.
Working the bake sale table. Fulfilling assignments as Class Mom. Interacting with people they would have never met in a zillion years if it weren’t for their child. Not every connection is a winner, but not to worry; there’s another opportunity on the way. Heck, somewhere in L.A. there’s a woman who sat next to Britney Spears at a soccer game.
It’s a really beautiful thing when it works right. Moms who were thrown together as monitors on a 5th grade a field trip to D.C. bond so well that they’re still friends when the grandchildren come. No stats on it. Who knows how often it really happens? My focus is opportunity.
The fact that there’s a deeper dimension of the “parenthood as private club” theme was a revelation to me. Like the day you realized most of the biggest decisions in the world are settled on a golf course somewhere.
There’s nothing to be “done” about it: No woman would have a child only in hopes of snagging a Friend For Life (I hope), and crashing a PTA meeting is crazy, too. It is what it is. (I hate that phrase, but it works perfectly here.) NotMoms have to work a little harder to find each other, that’s all. As for parents, fatigued, stressed and all the rest, I hope they don’t take this side benefit of their club for granted.