‘My Parentous submission is going to get delayed today’, I said to myself even as I popped a Disprin (though only into my purse, yet in full anticipation of needing it soon enough). The event for which I was preparing was not any high-profile corporate presentation or even a psychiatric evaluation. Well, almost. Today was the day the mothers of Kidlet’s new class did their meet and greet. Yes – such things exist and like it or not they do matter.
And I have come to learn it over the last several years of Kidlet’s schooling – given that she is at the ripe old age of five and a half. School level networking is no laughing matter by a half though. Here, you are not networking to curry favours or garner promotions. Again, well almost. Once you become a mom you get automatic entry into the Mommy union. An unrecognized, unregistered body that you will belong to for the rest of your child’s school life without having ever applied for membership.
It happens like this. You want the best for your child. You hunt high and low for the best school that ever could be. You somehow manage to wrangle a seat for your child in the said school. Then, just as you think that it is time for you to sit back and enjoy the fruits of all your pre-school anxieties you realise that your job is not done yet – by a long margin. School is not restricted to the four, five or six hours that your child is confined to it. It extends beyond to all the extra classes, play dates, birthday parties etc. etc. and out of school these activities are governed by the mommy body. And if you even remotely value your child’s social life, you would want to keep this body happy.
Am I exaggerating? Maybe a bit; but after spending back-breaking hours on the Internet and calling up random call centers to find a good paediatrician for my Kidlet – I finally got a good one only through the mummy network. The play school – I found through the park mommy network. The school – a combination of park mummies and the work mummy network. The best place to get deals and Kiddie DVDs – from the school mummy network. The amazing speech and drama teacher who doesn’t advertise anywhere, gentlest kiddie ophthalmologist, dentist – you name it – these are all ‘in’ secrets that you can get to only by belonging to these networks. Otherwise, you and your Google baba are totally at sea.
There are other fringe benefits too. But that depends totally upon the extent to which you’ve entrenched yourself in your group. If you are suddenly babysitter-less – you can call another mommy. The postage stamp that you forgot to buy but has to be sent to school today – sos call to another class mom. And if you are one of the kind that hasn’t retained friends from way back – you will soon realise that mommy friends are the ones who’ll probably ‘get’ you better than even your mother does. And most of the time these friendships don’t even require as much effort as the pre-mommy ones. You are a mother – that’s half the battle won!
Which brings one to the caveat – and why I needed Disprin in the first place. Not all union mommies are going to be your friends – even if you are high fiving them on the whatsapp group. Group dynamics will remain more or less the same as they were when you were in kindergarten. There will be pushy moms, arrogant moms, pushovers, nonchalants, downright political mothers and a few health nuts and other sundry maniacs thrown in too. But don’t worry, you’ll find a way to coexist. You’ll find your own subgroup of friends. And if all else fails you’ll prep yourself with a spirit of your choice. But you will never ever let it show. And you will learn to never ever let go of your mommy union card.
Cheers to that – and to all the mommies on the Parentous network !
Nidhi Dorairaj Bruce is a Freelance writer from Mumbai. With no formal education in Parenting, she has been getting on-the-job training ever since her daughter, affectionately referred to as ‘the kidlet’, arrived on the scene 5 years ago. On Twitter, you can connect with Nidhi @typewritermom