I Can't Handle the Playgroup Pressure
BY Frank Lowe
February 12 2014 3:03 PM ET
I will never forget the time that when our son was an infant, around 3 months old, our nanny said to me, “So, do you have him going to any playgroups?” My head exploded. I think I answered something like, “Actually I’m looking into a few — we want to keep our options open.” I really meant to say, “I have no fucking clue what you mean and how important is this and OMG is this going to affect his development and are we bad parents?” I was freaking out. I didn’t really know how to go about making friends with other parents with children the same age, much less those who would be accepting of gay parents. We live in rural Connecticut, so it’s always hard to tell where people are coming from. They’re either full-blown liberals or die-hard conservatives. No middle. And both the liberals and conservatives have the same face, so you don’t find out until the last minute.
About a week later, I was talking to our financial adviser, and she said, “I have a friend, Heather, I want you to meet! She’s super hip and has a baby around Briggs’ age, and I think you’ll love her.” I was sold. We met at a swanky lunch spot and took up far too much room with our strollers and babies and it was a total fucking mess. But Heather and I really hit it off. She has a daughter, Alex, who is a couple months older than Briggs, and I was arranging their marriage in my head that day. As we were leaving, Heather informed me that she was putting together a playgroup (jackpot!) and that we are invited. This was easily one of the biggest moments in my parenting career.
The following week brought the playgroup’s first meeting, at Heather’s house. I didn’t know what to expect, so I brought a bottle of wine. I was the only one who brought booze. So here we have the gay parent bringing the alcohol — way to fuck that one up. But the ladies (all ladies) seemed to love me, and we got along great and put the kids on a giant blanket — they could only roll around at that age, and finished that bottle in no time. We agreed to meet at each other’s homes every week, and that was the beginning of a beautiful thing. And would you believe, next time almost everyone brought some wine. Playgroups soon became synonymous with “mommy breaks.” The only times things ever got awkward was breast-feeding time, but they all had these fabulous little cloaks that concealed themselves and I just did what I do best — ignored the room and got on my phone.
Update: To this day, we are all still close friends and go to every one of the kids’ birthday parties and still get together to have “girls’ night out.” Our kids seldom see each other, but when they do, they are instant familiar friends.
Parents: What experiences have you had with finding a playgroup? Was there anxiety involved? Reply below in the comments section.