Playpen Politics

By Kellie Head


Since joining the ranks of the “bathrobe executives”, as my husband affectionately refers, I’ve noticed how seldom I socialize. So, when I received an invitation to host this week’s Mommy and Me playgroup meeting, I jumped at the chance. Not only would I be chatting with fellow mothers without the aid of a modem, but I would also be spending quality time with my daughter.

Julia, seven months old, was in no mood for company. She had been fussing over her teething trauma since breakfast and her surly attitude wouldn’t win her any Miss Congeniality points with her little playmates. Surely, with a little ingenuity and a dropper of Tylenol, I could manage to get her down for a morning nap. No luck, she would have nothing to do with sleeping. That is, until twenty minutes before the mommies and babies came knocking.

So there we sat, gathered in my living room — six moms and five babies. I felt a little like a party crasher, but there was no way on earth I was going to wake that teething-induced demon child who was finally resting peacefully in her cradle. Should I pull out the home movies? Photo albums? Birth certificate? I assured them I indeed had a baby and belonged in the group. The explosion of Fisher Price toys in my living room offered more than enough proof, but I felt the need to convince them further.

Most of us had never met before, so we started with brief histories and bios about ourselves, our families and of course, the dreaded birthing stories. We sounded like fishermen; all trying to top the others’ life threatening, touch and go 36-hour labor tale. After losing the “career” competition to a gal with a Ph.D. in Child Psychology, and the “Martha Stewart wannabe” category to the lady who brought homemade designer baby food for the children to sample, I wasn’t about to lose the “my labor was worse than your labor” lightening round.

I told an animated tale of chaos and mayhem surrounding my sudden, yet excruciating, onset of contractions. I explained, in great detail, how my husband pulled out of the drive and halfway down the street before realizing he had left me behind. I illustrated how labor was progressing so rapidly that I nearly delivered in the elevator; and how my husband fainted at the sight of the episiotomy needle, fell and hit his head on a bedpan (knocking himself unconscious), but luckily, was given an adjoining bed in my post-partum room. I captivated them and silently prayed none of them were Nick at Nite fans and could possibly recognize my combination-birthing story, stolen from The Flintstones, I love Lucy, and a few other sit-coms I dare not mention.

They bought it! I held a prestigious position in the labor Hall of Fame…for about 20 seconds. That’s when my 12-year-old popped up with her “That sounds like what happened to Wilma and Fred” remark.

So, I didn’t walk away with a blue ribbon in labor endurance, impressive career title, or the swim suit competition. I even lost my dignity while performing a double back handspring during the talent portion of our get acquainted program, but I learned a valuable lesson. There’s nothing like an embarrassing social faux pas to make you buckle down to work and appreciate the anonymity of telecommuting.

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