Monday, February 25, 2008

Women's Groups: Promise or Problem?

I have been thinking a lot about this lately with the advent of three new groups by the very fun Fussy. Her three new groups are one for wives (who want to ramp up their wifedom, I guess), one for people who want to make their homes domestic havens (and yet they invited me...go figure!), and one for homeschoolers. Yes, I am a member of all three groups. And that's probably what has got me thinking or rather, remembering my troubled tenure with online women's groups.

One thing to remember is that I came to friendships with women rather later in life than most women do. I was in graduate school before I made some really good woman friends. Basically, I didn't understand most women I was around before then and since I understood the men and boys better (being a tomboy and all), I hung around with them. Grad school was a watershed in many ways, including that one. All of a sudden I was swimming in female relationships and it was good. For a time. Actually, it was pretty much good until we moved, so no problems there.

Once I realized how cool female friendships could be, I sought out other ones, selectively, but still seeking. Since I've been awash in Mommydom for years now, there have been few opportunities to know males (who are still a whole lot easier to deal with than women, believe me) and many opportunities to know females. Still, I've held back for many reasons.

1) Women are complex and therefore can be
a) mean
b) petty
c) conniving
d) backbiting

2) Despite the fact that there are many women in SAH Parentdom, there are few ways to get together that don't involve gobs of children. Don't get me wrong, there are times and places where it's a total hoot to see gobs of children but it's really hard to get to know someone if you or they are chasing recalcitrant toddlers all over the place or dealing with bathroom emergencies.

3) I'm insecure about who I am and where my talents lie. Ah, here's the biggie I think. I'm insecure. I'm forty years old and still as insecure as I was at 30, perhaps even more so.

4) Who has the time?

So here I am, craving adult companionship in spurts throughout the day but finding it difficult to achieve. What waltzes in but the Internet and all its wonderful opportunities? I know that I was and am naive to the ways of the Web but I found this a tailor-made way to get to know other women in a time frame that suited my needs. And it has been. It's also been a nightmare in many ways.

I've spent some long periods of time in e-groups that were geared toward "Christian women". I've been kicked out of two for my belief in following the Bible and actually (gasp!) making statements out of Scripture in the groups. Sigh. But before that, I really enjoyed being in them. I enjoyed getting to know scores of women from all walks of life who sort of believed like I did and had similar life circumstances. I met some lovely ladies in those groups who are friends to this day (shout out to Angela, Cherylyn, and Kelly). But I've been really hurt in those groups as well.

I guess that's the point of this whole thing. When you put yourself out there, as yourself, you always risk being hurt. I know, I know, you can just not put yourself out there. So what's the point of being in those sort of groups? I know some women who join them (or generally form them) so that they can be the "guru" or the "expert" in some area and watch out if you don't conform to their idea of what is right and well or if you actually have different ideas and offer them. Again, I don't see the point of joining groups that are run like cults.

(If you really don't have a clue as to what I'm talking about, read the hilarious book SAHM I Am by Meredith Efken. I'm convinced that she was in that one group with me. )

I suppose that another thing one could do is to join superficially and just not get all involved in it. Again, what's the point? If you are joining a group to make friends, even over the 'Net, I think it takes more effort than it's worth to skim the surface and not get too involved.

I'm going off-topic again. Focus, Lori, focus! I guess I'm trying to figure out this group thing. I'm still trying to find the wonderful situation that I had in those first groups I was in before they went south. It was so lovely to "play" with other ladies, to share in their joys and sorrows, to get some tried and true hints on all sorts of things. It was a lovely community and I miss it. As wonderful as I'm sure they will be, I don't think Fussy's groups are going to do it for me. I'm just not the hawt rockin' sort of mama that fits in well there. I am me. That used to be enough but apparently that's not accepted any more.

Yesterday, as I was thinking all these things through, I realized something. I have more caution now than I used to. And I think that I have more confidence about who I am and what I can and cannot do. I do so crave the daily fun and other stuff that those groups provided but I'm not willing to put myself out there until I know that they aren't out to get me just to sharpen their claws.

I guess I'm proceeding with caution and wondering what the point is after all.


Ohio_Momto3boys said...

HAH! I totally feel your pain... not really pain, per se, more like lack of tea and chocolate with someone who doesn't think purple dinosaurs are way cool...

Most women's groups are not for me. I've even hosted some at my house! Of course, one woman thought my blatant asking of HER son to help clean up the mess HE made was too much so I respectfully distanced myself from her and her craziness. I just can't take it. Life is too short and I got my babies too late in this life for me to worry about womenly pettiness.

I have found 2 like minded women here in our town and I have one delightful buddy from highschool that I see every blue moon or so. I would love to have tea times and ladies' nights with a group ... but t'ain't gonna happen. I always seem to be the oddball of the bunch: my kids are adopted, they don't look like me, I don't breastfeed, I don't eat 100% organic, I don't use coupons, I don't negate my husband's decisions, I swat my kids, I think my children are hilarious... and so on.
Ah well, we shall persevere, shall we not?

Any suggestions on potty training? UGH


Anonymous said...


I have never been one to have a ton of "friends." And, I find it hard to be with a group of women. One on one... fine! I think this is perfectly normal and best summed up by CS Lewis in Surprised By Joy:

Hence while friendship has been by far the chief source of my happiness, acquaintance or general society has always meant little to me, and I cannote quite understand why a man should with to know more people than he can make real friends of.

Good luck with your online groups!

Gina said...

Funny you mention this. I've been feeling something similar about Fussy's groups.

I love Fussy! But you know me, I haven't a confident bone in my body. I muddle along trying my best to blend into the woodwork. Because I'm so shy, I have a tough time making comments in the forum and then when no one responds back, it feels to me like junior high.

Women friendships scare the snot outta me anyway. You know of course you're the only adult female friend I've ever had and I love ya for it!

Janet said...

Wow, Lori, I can so relate to many of the things you have stated in this post! I'm glad you have had the courage to broach this topic! I have had difficulty making female friends also--in person and over the net. I too was kind of a "tom-boy" growing up, and I too, just like to be myself with others. I agree--"what's the point?," if you can't be "real?!"

Other women at first, have stated they want "everyone to just be themselves," but if I were to share something "too honest," or "too spiritual," or "too non-mainstream," etc., suddenly others would quickly back-off, retreat, or in some way let me know that I was not "cool" and "modern" enough to really be part of their clique.

Well, to be honest, I no longer am necessarily interested in having many friends. Really, I've always preferred to have a few "very close" friends, with whom I could truly share, and that is more my goal!

Of course, I also know that there are different levels of friendship, and with some acquaintances, we can still relate and share on a few things.

I was at first really excited about the new homeschooling social network (with homeschooling hacks), but I too have already become more cautious and wary, and a little discouraged. I figure I'll wait and see...

Lori, thanks again for the honesty of your post.

God Bless,

Love N Him,

Lil Mouse said...

hey i dont think i've heard from you before. thanks for commenting over at my blog. its nice to have new visitors, especially if they comment!

fussy is fun. i feel a little left out sometimes because i'm one of the EW's without kids (there arent many of us WK) but i try and comment if i think anything i have to say will be helpful...

enjoyed your post and your comments!

MondaythroughSunday said...

My relationships with women did start after high school and not until I was actually in YWAM. I always felt more comfortable around the boys. They just let things go easier and did not have a need to confront things all the time. If I hurt them they were talking to me like nothing happened the next day. I have good relationships now..but still cautious.