I passed by the big park at the top of our street on my way out to run some errands this morning and I was stunned by the number of moms there with their little ones. It's been such a cold, miserable winter and except for the little toboggan hill, the park has been deserted.
Spring has brought it back to life.
As I passed by it occurred to me that I'm a complete outsider when it comes to this little part of my community - this little group of people. I keep my yard neat and pretty, I pay my taxes, I clear the sidewalks of snow, I throw salt down when it's icy - but I don't belong at the park. I have no child to push on the swings.
Yes, I know I have every right to be there, but I don't belong there. Having the right to stand in the sand and watch the kids play doesn't make it something that anyone, me especially, would feel comfortable with. Just because I can go, doesn't mean I should. Or that I belong there.
I've touched on this with therapist lady. At my last session I was bemoaning the fact that unless you have a child or a dog, no one talks to you when you're out and about walking or gardening if they don't already know you. People nod and say a polite hello perhaps, but there's no stopping to chat.
And when I'm with someone who happens to have a child, I'm the forgotten blob beside the stroller with nothing to say. Which works out fine because no one is particularly interested in talking to a childless, dogless blob anyway.
This is sounding incredibly sucky. I know that. But it's really bothersome to have a whole little exclusive subculture right in your own backyard that you can't have any part of because you don't meet its membership requirements. Having a leash or a stroller gets you in.
I have neither.
I have a cat, but she views the outdoors as a great big scary room that she wants no part of. She's absolutely useless for membership purposes.
I'm extremely lucky that I have some very good neighbour friends (both moms) who don't give a rat's ass that I'm woefully under equipped. They're friendly with me regardless of my childless/dogless status. They're just friends. No rules or requirements involved.
But the community at large is my issue. The way it's broken up into clusters of haves and have nots, leaving the nots with our noses pressed against the park gates wishing we could come in.
I know that moms have every right to have impromptu gatherings in the park, and I know that mom & tot programs at the libraries and community centres are invaluable resources to new moms as well as stay-at-home moms. Okay, ANY moms.
But it doesn't make it any less isolating to see the groups and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I don't belong.
The only groups available for the kind of mother I am are bereavement groups. And that's just no fun at all.