Oklahoma City family fun helps parents find each other and in the process, sometimes themselves. Comfort in your identity as a parent is a difficult topic but it gets easier with time. When you're new to the community or new to parenting, finding what works for you can feel uncertain at best and lonely at worst.
My usual approach to parenthood is that I am really glad to be living in the age of Google and YouTube videos because of that instant plethora of information. It's not difficult to find expert advice and the best answers float to the top on forums like Quora or with sources that obviously know what they're talking about. The American Academy of Pediatrics and Baby Center and Hello Baby email me so much, I can barely even skim over their better topics. I ask friends or other community moms on social media almost any question and get an avalanche of personal anecdotes paired with recommendations. In under an hour, I weighed all the options and figured out where to send my children to preschool; we're on year four/kid four there.
What we, the younger moms, are missing sometimes is human connection. And I don't mean more opinions or contacts on the internet; those abound. I mean supportive women who are willing to help in person when you need someone your age and in similar life circumstances. Texting your Mom isn't an option for everyone and, after all, her baby's 30; a lot of my Mom friends have also expressed that their mothers come off as judgmental and condescending because they're not mothering a newborn they just birthed after a long pregnancy and a difficult labor, nor are they anywhere to be found at 4 a.m. when the baby has woken you for the fifth time. So you text a friend.
When I had my oldest child 11 years ago, I didn't know any other pregnant women. Not even one. None of my friends were parents. It took some adjustment to get used to the idea of this tiny person being totally dependent on me 24/7 and it would've been helpful to know another new Mom who was going through the same process. I graduated from college and my baby was at the ceremony along with a few other babies who had made an appearance with my classmates. I didn't know they were around until then or heard of other classmates' small children only in passing.
By the time I had my next child five years later, plenty of people had kids. It was less novel and there were women in the workplace to talk to about all of it.
Now, over time, I've made friends but not always on the premise of them having children the same age. I totally roll my eyes at the whole "find your tribe" mentality but I see where meeting other women in similar circumstances goes beyond a cliche.
MetroFamily is co-hosting an expo called Bump, Baby and More this Saturday at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame/Gaylord-Pickens Museum. It's for women who are expecting or have babies or toddlers. Admission is free and it's from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with last entry for the public at 2:30.
If you're pregnant or have small children, here are three reasons you should go to Bump, Baby and More:
Meet other parents: Finding a tribe isn't my thing but it might be yours and everyone's parenting experience could be better. Meet some of the people you're in closed Facebook groups with and go do things together as your babies grow. Make new friends or reconnect with people you didn't know are now parenting alongside you in your community.
See merchandise and find local retailers: Online shopping is great until it isn't, like when you need to see how a car seat fits your child, which sling works for your body type or how cloth diapers actually feel. The day my mother-in-law accidently bought counterfeit disposable diapers that left my son with a rash opened my eyes to how many fake products are actually around. Go with a local retailer and shop local to support a community of merchants that have your best interest at heart.
Get samples, hear presentations and be in the know: So much changes from baby to baby. My youngest two are just three years apart but I felt like the world had turned with the variety of baby products now available. Diaper booster inserts, new papasan-style swings and jogging strollers, better breast pumps with portable true no-pump collection options like Willows and HaaKaas were all new to me. Seeing products demonstrated or explained gives you someone to ask questions to that are answered right there rather than waiting to see if your favorite YouTubers decide to write back. They're more reliable than the comments section, we promise.
Another reason to go is just to feel the excitement a little more. If you're pregnant, enjoy that life stage this Saturday because even though there is a lot that is unpleasant and uncomfortable and unglamorous, there's a lot to celebrate too. If you have little ones, take the day and have fun seeing all the options around for them.
No one is born a parent and we're all learning how to live better every day with all that's available to us. See your options and talk with real people about the whole experience. Go back home happy. That's the very best approach to parenting and reading about those early years on the internet doesn't always leave me with that feeling. Enjoy the event.