When Lila was first born, I posted on a website called Urban Baby, asking if anyone in our neighborhood wanted to meet up for coffee. A few people answered the post. We met. Then more answered. Then we met. Word of mouth spread about our meetings and before I knew it, I had upwards of 150 parents (mostly moms) on an e-mail list I sent out weekly. We had rotating play dates, outings to the park. A babysitting coop.
When I started getting bad migraines when Lila was almost two, I just couldn't keep it up anymore, so the e-mails and get togethers stopped. Then again, by that time, none of us needed the support we needed when our babies were, well babies. We had toddlers. Some went back to work; some stuck to smaller groups they met through the play dates. On and on. Still, my closest mom friends are from those early days.
But the thing about Urban Baby -- and it's non-censored off shoot, You Be Mom -- is there is absolutely no sense of culpability. You are totally anonymous and can say what you want, when you want to anyone you want. It's another sort of Girls Gone Wild, I tell you. I believe many of the woman post when drunk, too. So it's sort of Girls Gone Wild, Ten Years Later.
Through there, I have been insulted, told I must be absolutely awful in real life, accused of "flipping out" and been told "how sorry for my children" people feel. Water off a ducks back, really.
Ok, so I know you're all asking. "Why would I bother going to a site like that?" I even debated whether or not to post links to these sites because they can be such a time-suck and often pointless, but somehow thought that would be dishonest. I also figure, if someone wants to check it out, laugh, post or be drawn into some ridiculous argument about being fat or a complaint about guest bringing gross dishes to a well planned Christmas dinner, who am I to stop you? I'm also a bit embarrassed to show you what I sometimes do with my time when I could better use that time writing or really just staring into space.
Then, the other night, I was bored, didn't feel like working, but didn't feel like going to bed yet, so I logged on. I posted something inane about how I wanted Chinese food -- something I almost never want -- but hadn't seen a Chinese restaurant anywhere.
Someone posts back. "Me too. We're in Argentina." I swear, I just thought it was someone messing with me. But then, how could she know who I am? How could she even know I was in Argentina?
"We are too," I respond.
"SHUT UP," says this anonymous person, " We're in BA."
"Recoleta," I type.
It turns out, we are both in Buenos Aires for a month, living literally two blocks away from each other. We met today with kids in tow for a play date at the local park.
She is lovely. Her twins, two adorable, sweet five year old girls and Lila got along famously. It took less than a minute for the three of them to run off together. And they played happily the rest of the day together. Through the park, through lunch and then through both dads joining us at another restaurant for a bottle of wine in the warm summer evening.
Of course, it should come as no shock to anyone that I would meet someone through the internet, Couchsurfing and all, but this one suprised even me. It's one thing to post in Brooklyn, where it's wall-to-wall moms and all on You Be Mom. No one will admit it. Everyone says, "Oh, me! I dont' do that anymore."
But who would have thought, another New York mom with similar interests, similar outlook, who get along well, whose children get along well meeting through this horribly snarky site?
Now that I've met her, though, I think I'm done. I don't think I'm going to do that anymore. Why would I?