Meetup Success!

Well, I did it. I hosted my very first Meetup for women without children in my town. I was so afraid going in. Afraid no one would show up. Afraid I would say something presumptuous or embarrassing. Afraid of awkward silence. Afraid that maybe God is just determined to keep me isolated from anyone else who might have circumstances that resembles my own.

Honestly, it turned out better than I could have imagined.

I went into that restaurant not knowing a single woman without children, and I left with 5 new friends who share a common bond with me. We sat down at the table and all breathed a collective sigh of relief that we were in a safe place. You could just see it in some of their eyes…the joy of finding a whole table of people who just “get it.” The contentment of knowing there would be an entire dinner conversation without mention of breastfeeding, nap time, soccer schedules or some other trigger. Sweet relief.

I dare not assume that all of these women are in my boat. I honestly don’t know their stories yet. My guess is that most of our boats are so unique that there is only room for 1 person to row. But we each managed to drift our rafts into the same radius of calm water on a clear evening, close enough to wave to each other and chat. Thankfully, everyone was pretty darn normal (relatively speaking, ha!). We all knew how to converse well, ask good questions, laugh at each other’s jokes, share stories, attentively listen and not overshare (tempting though, isn’t it? The second I met them, I wanted to just gush my entire life story). It was just a fun, simple evening getting to know one another over chocolate. Yes, chocolate. The restaurant we went to specializes in chocolate; chocolate martinis, chocolate ravioli, truffles, soufflés, pie…chocolate everything. And it was fa-bu-lous!Photo Jun 07, 6 05 11 PM

Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve had over 30 women sign up for this group. Many of them emailed me to say thank you for creating a space where they can meet others like them. One of the members even took the initiative to help me schedule a future meetup in 2 weeks: dinner at a local food truck rally! There is talk of brunch and evening hikes too as the year goes on. Fun!

So all in all, I have to say it was a surprising success and I am so thankful I had the guts to go out on a limb. I learned that there are indeed others out there who are like me. We may not share the same path, the same beliefs, direction in life or worldview. But we have a common bond over something that is markedly absent in our lives. And sometimes, it just feels good to know you’re not alone.

 

Out On A Limb

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! tumblr_no7kt8IZPV1teoi3lo1_500
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