Early on in my stay-at-home dad experience, I was a bit overwhelmed and barely left the house. This was partially out of fear, partially out of paranoia, mostly out of exhaustion. But that’s a story for another day.
The point is that when it came time for me to finally leave the baby cave and attempt adult conversation once more, I just assumed I would simply find a parenting group to join and all my problems would be solved. I didn’t hold much hope of finding a father’s group, but I figured there would be any number of ‘mother’s groups’ I would be welcomed into.
Though I didn’t know what to expect from a mother’s group, I assumed they involved support, networking, nurturing, interaction and, of course, delicious snacks.
Apparently I was wrong about both what these groups are, and how easy they are to find.
The first group I tried was a riot of colour and chaos featuring screaming blurs, twitching mothers, fire and brimstone… I came home more stressed than when I left.
The second group were nice, but treated me like a scientific oddity. Apparently a male voluntarily looking after the kids isn’t as common throughout society as I thought. They figuratively poked and prodded me to the point where I felt like an experiment.
Time to try another playgroup.
Group number three consisted of seven women bitching about their husbands. The babies were almost forgotten as a seemingly endless tirade against men and their laziness was the only point of discussion.
After 45 minutes I decided to finally chime in and lighten the mood with, “I know! And then they come home and just expect sex! It’s as if they have no idea what we have to do during the day.”
Oooookay. Cross the Bitchy Bee group off the list.
The fourth attempt brought me to what I think of as the Olympic Trials playgroup. Here everything as a competition. “Your baby look their first steps? Oh, well mine did that last month.” Mine, is running already.” And so on.
Seriously, I was waiting for one of them to scream, “Well, mine was walking in the womb!” Incidentally, they were obsessed with brand name labels too, And apparently not even pronouncing it “tah-jhay” makes Target acceptable to some.
My next attempt found me in a large warehouse with very nice people, but my kids were the youngest by about 12 months. So I got brief polite conversation before they went off to talk to people they knew, leaving the girls and I somewhat isolated.
I enjoyed it, but as I didn’t like feeling like my babies were holding interaction back, I marked this group “for later exploration”.
At the end of my tether I was just about ready to abandon my search for a sympathetic voice. Support and understanding are overrated anyway, right?
Then, just like that, Queensland Health introduced me to a group of women who were in the same boat – not only from search perspective, but they had twins as well. So I’m now a regular in a gathering that puts the “group” in “playgroup”. And they’re wonderful.
We understand, emphathise, help each out, answer questions, share experiences and genuinely like each other. We share laughter. We care about each other’s kids and, in fact, are just excited their milestones as our own children’s.
And, of course, the snacks are delicious.
To find a playgroup near you visit www.plagroupaustralia.com.au