Recently, in the blog-o-sphere, I've been reading quite a lot on the issue of playgroups and man-o-man are there some strong opinions out there. Beth even went as far as naming her weblog based on her feelings about playgroups.

Personally, I don't care for them. I'm invited to one every so often and nearly always decline. I'm sure the women who put it together are well-meaning but I just can't make quite feel like it's worth it to have to put on a bra to be a part of them. Here's the thing: I'll stipulate that in theory, they're meant to benefit all involved - a great socialization opportunity for the kids and a wonderful bonding opportunity for the moms. And I know that I've been described once or twice as antisocial. OK - maybe three or four times. OK - maybe that's the first thing friends and family say about me. I fully admit this is more a me thing than a they thing. If I wanted to see comraderie, fellowshipping and love, I probably would. If I was less of a hermit I might actually enjoy bonding with other moms occasionally.

I remember a good friend of mine after having her first, mentioning that she often learned more from the moms at playgroup and in the nursing lounge at church than from all the parenting books and magazines she'd read. After Dormouse was born, for some crazy reason, I decided I needed to experience that kind of community and support from other mothers even though I didn't really feel a desire. I just thought it would be best for my daughter - I guess since my own mother is geographically far away. So I attended a few playgroups I was invited to. I'm not sure what I was thinking... she was a baby and way too young to interact with the other children there. Mostly what I ended up feeling was like the wallflower at the dance who no one even notices was there. And even though this wasn't my first rodeo - my first pregnancy and my nearly teenage stepson could attest to that - the other mothers in the group were so sure that they had all the answers to all the world's parenting questions that any comment I happened to make was met with sideways glances and knowing nods that seemed to say "Oh... she's only been a mother for a few weeks... she'll learn."

Basically playgroup discussion I've experienced tends to center around three things:

Pregnancy. Some of the kids are 5 and 6 years old and their moms are still fixated on this. I totally get that it's a life altering experience and all. But come on already - I could talk about the most interesting thing in the world, but if that was all I ever talked about, it would become less interesting right quick. Most of the discussion centered around how each and every mother there had had a worse labor than the other. It seems to be a badge of honor among moms... if you can boast 32 hours of labor without any drugs, you are somehow a better mother than the one who only labored 31 hours and took a Tylenol by mistake thinking it was a Tic-Tac. My pre-planned c-section simply didn't fly with these women. It didn't seem to matter that I had several doctors' orders and a medically necessary reason... "uh... my uterus will rupture and I could bleed to death if I try to do a VBAC and we figure that's probably not the best thing for my child" meant nothing to them. What I generally heard in response, was something to the effect of "oh my doctor said that too, but I just wanted to experience childbirth the way God intended it." Somehow I don't think it was the exact same situation. And if it was, how irresponsible can you get? Risking your child's life because you wanted to experience something? Puleeze.

Parenting. Translation: The Best and Only Way to Raise Children Across the Country and Around the World. Of course the "best" is always the way that particular person is handling the situation and anyone who finds themselves doing anything different will be dooming their child to a live of hopelessness and helplessness where no one will ever love them.

Child development milestones. I will never understand why, but where two moms gather, there begin the comparisons.. my kid is walking before yours... mine is talking... well mine knows his ABCs... well MINE is reading Tolstoy.... We attended a Barbeque recently and one of the women there once again invited me to their playgroup the next day. They were going to meet at a park where the kids could play outside. I tried to be nice and mumbled something about how maybe I'd come if I could, but we'd have to see what my working-at-home-load was for the next day. After dinner, KingofHearts spent an inordinate amount of time trying to convince me to go. He thinks I need "friends". I'd also like to point out here that he wasn't encouraging me to go for Dormouse 's sake... she has plenty of friends through church and preschool, so she's not really needing a playgroup to provide important socialization opportunities. Basically, he thinks I need important socialization opportunities. He finally guilted me into reluctantly saying I would go because the other moms had been nice enough to ask me and I just sound ungrateful every time I say 'thanks but no thanks'. I hated the idea, but agreed to go because it was somehow the right thing to do.

The next day I woke up, looked out the window and saw rain, rain and more rain pouring down from the sky.

Proof that God loves me and wants me to be happy.