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
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.