At our end-of-the-year lunch this morning.
When we moved to Seattle right out of college with a newborn in tow, I looked in the bulletin of our new parish, discovered there was a playgroup that met in the church nursery, and have attended every week since. After two years, the mom leading the group had a daughter heading off to kindergarten, so she asked me to take over.
The group had been a little disorganized and I thought if I just sent out weekly emails and made sure the correct information appeared in the bulletin and on the parish website, all of our problems would be fixed. But, man, building community is so much harder than I thought!
The other change I made was to separate our book discussion from our morning meetings. Previously, we'd pick a new parenting/spirituality book each semester and try to discuss a section each week, with our children playing all around us. Needless to say, this was quite challenging.
Now, we focus on the kids more in the morning and chat about whatever we'd like. We've still had lots of good discussions about NFP, raising children in the faith, and all sorts of Catholic topics you would never dare to bring up at a secular play date. And we meet at the church one evening a month from 8:00 to 9:30 to discuss our book of choice and have some dessert.
When the nursery was closed over Thanksgiving and Christmas break, we met at a couple different indoor play places. For our last meeting of the school year today, we had lunch at a favorite kid-friendly pizza place. After a couple weeks off, we'll start meeting at a park near the church for the summer months and then we'll be back in the nursery in September.
We have our loyal members who come regularly (about ten) and a few moms of older children who try to join us for our evening book discussion, but I've met many other stay-at-home moms of young children at Mass who have never come. Every year, we get several moms who come once and never show up again. Even among our regular attendees, I will have to send out three reminder emails to get them to sign up to bring a meal to a group member who's just had a baby.
Our particular suburb of Seattle is home to many, many transplants who've moved to the area for work in the tech industry. So it's pretty common to meet a new mom who has no "village" to rely on. There's all this talk of how isolating stay-at-home motherhood is in this day and age, but I feel like lots of mothers don't even try to change their lonely circumstances. If you actually read the bulletin or have ever perused the church website, it's quite difficult to miss our information. And we're a pretty welcoming, low-pressure group. But you're probably going to have to come more than once to make friends.
Doesn't it seem like 90% of the American population would identify themselves as an introvert these days? I don't mean to say that introversion and extroversion aren't really things, but I think laziness also plays a really huge role and with all of this talk about introversion lately, we all have a perfect excuse.