Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Misanthrope: In Which I Am A Snob, Or Maybe Just Lonely

To avoid going completely insane, I belong to a moms' group here.  For the most part, it's nice.  Bug has tot friends and playgroups and outings with other kids; I can talk to other adults; we swap kids and have dates with our spouses and toddler-free doctor's appointments.

However!  (There's always a however.)  The great majority of these other women are not really My People. They don't read, which I find entirely incomprehensible.*  They don't make things.  They don't save spare screws out of dead appliances.  (Okay, that one's a bit excessive.)  They don't think XCXD is funny, and when I proposed using a Google Docs spreadsheet as a sign up it was a surprising, new idea.  They don't have any scientific background, and they decide suddenly that they're allergic to wheat because they feel tired.  (Was a quantity of jam involved, I wonder?)  Their kid has a rash for one day, and they go to the doctor!**  And then delay vaccination because some idiot pseudo-babble book told them to.  

But they are kind, decent people.  They live near me.  Their children are of similar ages to mine, and they play nicely together.  They don't have the kind of random intellectual curiosity or drive to create that I cherish in my friends, but they are what I have right now.

Maybe I want too much. 

* Our library recently installed a new catalog, which you can tell to track your check-outs (useful for "who wrote that mystery... with... the trees...). I looked up my history since May.  I read two hundred and fifty-three books from May to December.  Plus all the ones I already owned, and re-read.  And yes, I actually, truly read every single one. Plus Bug got another 250 read to him, about ten times each.  I am not exaggerating.

 ** Without  fever, dehydration, or lethargy, you know. Just a RASH.  In a healthy 2-year-old.  I took Bug to the doctor this week for a rash- which he's had for six months. (Eczema, which is High Billable for "a rash".)


  1. oy. i joined a group like that briefly. only they almost all did work -- it was a tiny-babies group, so they were on maternity leave -- but in things like finance. they did not read. they do their jobs well, i'm sure, but they don't think about anything, as far as i can tell. they aren't artists or writers or scientists. and the babies were little and not setting fire to things or kicking each others' block towers over or anything, so there was nothing to do but sit around and talk diapers. (and compete over nursing and sleep, of course!) it was horrible and depressing. i decided to quit after well-meaning friends encouraged me to stick with it and i started weeping uncontrollably.

    i've since found a less horrid group. maybe not people i would have been immediately friends with, but not aliens, either.

    not the same situation, and i guess the babysitting swap means i think you would do well to stick with your group if it's the only option out there, but still. i feel ya.

  2. It's kind of... all I've found. This is a relatively small city, so the options are Nutter Anti-Vaccination Self-Righteous Hippies, or Suburban Housewife. I think they fall more into the not-aliens category: nice enough, but not my best friends. (I basically want 20 of my college roomate, whom I miss bitterly.)

  3. Anonymous2:33 PM

    Oh, you're my kind of person. I read four or five books a week. I knit. I make bookshelves out of random packaging and coffee-cup-holders out of plastic bags. I not only save screws but dead batteries too (OK, that last one is INSANE). I can only talk to people who don't read for about 17 minutes before the OMFG THREE-HEADED-ALIEN-STOAT syndrome sets in, and we end up staring at each other in bafflement. I like talking about unmanned space-craft at dinner. Sort of thing. All the intelligent witty people have gone to hide on the internets.

  4. This has been a bit of a quandary for me since we've had kids. I do still work, so have more social outlets. But, when I was active in La Leche and a birth advocacy league, wow! Add onto that (in my region) strong, overt, fundamentalist religiosity in many SAHMs here and I felt like I was the alien.

    When you are able (not now, I realize), take an art class, join or form a book club, or the like.

    I have some wonderful friends that are my kids' friends' parents - but I can't really talk about books or ideas with them.

    "Great people talk about ideas.
    Average people talk about things.
    Small people talk about other people."

    We are all better people when we spend time with people that make us think about ideas.

  5. Yeah, mere parenthood doesn't seem to be enough to make random people into soulmates. PECULIAR. And the saddest part is how many of us seem to feel this way. Do you suppose the other women in your group, the ones you tar with the same brush of banality, feel the same? I mean, not about the same things, but about other mysterious things that people who don't read care about?

    (Though...to be truthful, all I ever read anymore is research papers. WAAAAAAAAAH! So you can reject me now. I am totally and average and small person, too, according to the breakdown above...)

  6. 253? I am so jealous. Like Bunny, I hardly ever read anything that's not a paper.

    Also, in an odd way I have the same problem, or the reverse, depending on how you look at it -- almost everyone I meet is a scientist (cf. last post ;) and, while we have that interest in common, it certainly doesn't mean we're going to be best friends. In Barcelona I thought it was the language gap, but that doesn't apply here... yet making real friends is hard. However, I have found someone I can talk about ideas with, and it is so, so awesome.

  7. I am so in your shoes. No suggestions either .....

  8. I am so in your shoes. No suggestions either .....

  9. Anonymous5:57 PM

    The quandary in what you describe (for me anyway) is how much am I doing this for myself, versus how much am I do this for my kids? I put up with several "friendships" like the one you describe because the boy loves the children in question. I much prefer the time with my good friends, but, hey, whatchgonnado?

  10. You are the first other person I've ever known who reads as much as me. I don't seem to be able to stop myself either - if there is something written somewhere in the room, I find it without realizing, and start reading. (This made me really popular when I worked in a cubicle-farm office.) I read at least a book per day, and one of the librarians at the local branch recently told me that I keep their doors open. I'm not necessarily reading to educate myself on much of anything - but it seems to happen nonetheless. Tim and I are a killer Trivial Pursuit team if nothing else!

    I have never bothered trying to join a mothers' group. I work from 7-4 M-F, and then I have the boys while Tim works from 4 until dinnertime, and then after dinner until we put the kids to bed, and then after the kids go to bed. And on the weekends. Not sure when I would have the time to meet up with other people without the kids, and while I'm sure no one would say this in my hearing, I have gotten the feeling that some moms are frightened of having a special-needs kid around - autism being "catching" and all... Plus, many of the mothers' groups around here are church-based, and since I'm a heathen, it wouldn't work for me anyway.


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