Mommies of the Serengeti

Subtitled “playgroups, birthday parties, and learning to run with the herd,” this essay in Brain, Child, has been working its way through me like a koan. The author, a former loner, describes her journey from exclusion, e.g. “a playgroup is the social equivalent of surgery without anesthesia,” to membership in a tribe of women. Overcoming what she describes alternately as a fear of rejection or as contempt, she learns to conform to the standard of birthday parties and give her son a whopping one. It was a great success. Well written and thoughtful, it is a lesson in transformation and friendship.

I was horrified!

She even made fun of how apparently ‘fashionable’ it is to complain about an alienated state. So, where do I go from here? If a fellow alien found her way into the herd, what is my excuse? I should suck it up and join. Especially because I can’t stand the thought of doing anything fashionable.

Do you see where I’m caught? I can’t join and I can’t not join. Not only do lavish parties stress me out, but I also actually believe that it should be ok to do it differently. On the other hand, I most definitely do not want to foster contempt or fear of rejection or actual rejection; I do not want my child to be without a social group; I do not want do not want do not want do not want…

I want to be able to have a quiet and cheerful party. I want to be able to question ‘attachment parenting’ and feel tender toward attached parents. I want to say what feels true to me and still have friends. I want I want I want it all.

I’m going back to my meditation cushion. Ring the bell when the next century arrives.


3 thoughts on “Mommies of the Serengeti

  1. Sabine says:

    Of course I have nothing else to do on Sunday morning than to check our your blog. Actually, I am just writing a new proposal and came across your newest entry.
    I must admit that I feel very similar about the typical social “must do” events for kids. Although my baby Ula is just 4 months old and she is the biggest love of my life (I am just in awe everytime I am with her) I am already thinking about future birthday parties, other social events and how handle these without falling into the typical social mom trap. Since we’re not there yet, there is still a chance for thinking about the best approach. At my “mommy and me” yoga class another mom mentioned an event for “new” babies at the local library. I went just for the fun of it: A bunch of women/nannies with babies sitting in a circle learning and singing cute songs, which was a good thing, since I only know German baby songs and tend to sing the same song many times. Ula seemed to like it: She looked very curious at the other people and made some new facial expressions. I was happy that I went and even talked to a few moms afterwards. However, are these “must” social events making her fall into the typical group trap that will prevent her from individual decision making? What’s a good alternative?

  2. Hi Sabine,

    Your dilemma is the dilemma of the day. I continue to struggle with how to be in a group without falling into the trap of the group. I think we all need to work on being clear about who we are, what choices make sense for us, and have the courage to express our differences even when we are in a group.

    thanks for your comment, Elena

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