Have you heard of Meetup? Essentially it’s a website that organizes “meetups” of people with different interests. There are book clubs, hiking groups, music groups, political groups…basically a group for anything you can imagine. People just gather around a common interest.
Well, I was on Meetup the other day looking at the groups they have for the town we just moved to. It was more of a curiosity thing, just looking to see what they had. I happened upon a group for women without children in a town about 50 miles away from me. Just as I found that group, a little box popped up and said “75 Meetup users in your town have expressed interested in a “childless” group. Would you like to start one?” Ummmm, no. I really don’t want to start one. I’m not interested in organizing anything, starting anything or really doing anything outside of my comfort zone. I closed the website and moved on with my to-do list for the day.
For whatever reason, it kept popping into my head throughout the next few days. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit, maybe it was curiosity. Who knows. I just kept thinking…75. There are 75 other people in my town who are interested in meeting up with other people who don’t have children.
I currently do not know anyone, aside from my sister, who is married and does not have a child. Not a single person. Zero. Not in my old church. Not in my new church. Not from college or grad school. Not in my network of photography friends. Not a local friend. Not a distant friend. Not even a remote acquaintance. No one. And to be honest, it would just be really nice to have a friend who also did not have children.
Not that I need to bond with someone over infertility, I have plenty of friends who have been down that road whom I can bond with if needed. Not that I need to have someone understand my story, I have plenty of friends who understand my story. I don’t need further understanding. And it’s not that I can’t relate to my friends who have children, we all get along beautifully and I love them (and their children) dearly.
I guess it would just be nice to meet another outlier, like myself. To have a full conversation with someone that didn’t include talk of swimming lessons, Kindergarten registration, soccer schedules or breastfeeding. I’ve been having those conversations for 7 years now. It feels a bit like a paraplegic talking to a triathlete (shout out to Sarah for giving me that fitting analogy).
So, I went out on a limb and I created a group. It’s for Women Without Children. In the group, I specified that you could be childless not-by-choice, childless because of loss, childfree by choice, childfree by circumstance…whatever best identifies you.
The group is still in moderation, awaiting final approval from Meetup. But if it gets approved, maybe a few of those 75 people will join. And maybe we’ll meet up for coffee or a hike. And maybe we’ll find camaraderie. Maybe I’ll make a friend who not only understands the place where I am, but is there herself.
Yes, it feels weird. Almost like internet dating. It feels contrived and forced and awkward. A little sad maybe, if I’m being honest. Because it really shouldn’t be that hard to find a group of friends who are in a similar boat as you. Or even just one friend. But when you reside in a minority subsection of society, it’s just not always that easy to find people who are like you, you have to intentionally seek them out to form community.
So we’ll see what happens. Maybe the group will get approved, maybe it won’t. Maybe people will join, maybe they won’t. Maybe it will be a bunch of old, bitter infertiles, or maybe it will be a wonderfully diverse group who share a common bond. Maybe it will work out, maybe it won’t. I will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that I put myself out there and tried. Can’t fault me for trying!
**Edited to add: So my Meetup group was approved yesterday evening after I wrote this post. Within 4 hours it had 16 members and our first event (happy hour!) is already 75% full with confirmed RSVPs. Wow!