I love that the only requirement to forming a club is to gather a group of people who have something in common. That commonality is a juicy and intriguing variable. A quick online search for clubs warranted more in a span of five minutes than I can begin to list. The Procrastinator's club, Shuffleboard Club, Chocolate Club, The Goonies fan club, Stuffed animals fan club, to name just a few. There is something so comforting to me in the fact that camaraderie can be discovered for anyone, no matter how diverse and eclectic their interest.
I love that.
The first time I walked through the doors of the Friday Afternoon Breastfeeding Club (aka, FABC, not the most glamorous of acronyms, but you get the gist) I felt the sense of belonging that comes from having a known and established commonality with everyone in the room, though I had yet to meet every one of them.
1. We were (are) all such new new mothers that the oldest of the babies could just barely hold her head up.
2. We were (are) all new to the art of breastfeeding.
3. We were (are) all living in a constant state (at various degrees) of befuddlement.
Within minutes of setting up camp on the floor at the feet of a handful of mothers who chose the chair-sitting route, I felt a level of comradeship that was intoxicating. With Opal attached to my left boob and my arms pulled ungracefully from both sweater sleeves, (I don't think I will ever be a subtle breastfeeder-- someone who manages to stay fully clothed and dainty aside from a sneaky little nipple.) I juggled familiar conversation topics round-robin style from one mama to the next. The mama in front of me was going back to work in a week and wanted to discuss pumping. The mama to my right had a baby with acid reflux and her doc told her she should use a pacifier, which terrified the mama. The mama to her right was dealing with hard, sore boobs and was afraid of mastitis.
And in the midst of this glorious whirlwind of moving mouths and sucking babies, was the discovery that I had figured out something that another mama yet to bring to light, as well as the fact that another mama had figured out something that I had not yet uncovered. This created a universal neutral that settled me deeply. A pool of wisdom that we could all ladle from. Thus is the power of clubs. The commonality of the experience itself trumps any notion of right and wrong, getting it or not getting it.
Add to this the familiarity that occurs naturally when you visit with the same people on a regular basis and the alchemy that forms is close to religious.
As I walked down the hallway toward the club yesterday, with Opal dozing deeply in the fleece sling, I felt I couldn't scurry to get there fast enough as I anticipated the complete acceptance that awaited us. Opal and I were greeted by name by a half-dozen ladies, followed by questions of how our week was and and how things were going since we'd last been together.
These are women I may have never met had we not conceived and birthed children in close proximity to one another (in age). If you look at it that way, it seems like the specific gathering of ladies in this room is actually pretty random. I love this-- it inspires me to look at any stranger and be curious about what it is that we have in common. What club could we be in together?
The previous week I had complemented a hat that one of the babies was wearing. A gorgeous old-fashioned little knit bonnet that had been crocheted by her grandmother. And this week the baby's mom brought a whole bagful of the hats that the inspired grandmother had made for us! I couldn't help but envision her in her own little grandmotherly crocheting club, feverishly knitting these bonnets for her daughter's fellow new-mama friends, reminiscing with the other grandmothers about what it was like when they were new mamas.