Normally I’m looking for as many opportunities to connect, be social, and otherwise make sure I have a diverse group of people in my life. As a stay at home parent (especially a stay at home dad) in Hong Kong, it is not super easy to connect with people. You can meet people, but you don’t always connect with them. Such is the case with one of the playgroups I was a part of.
This particular playgroup was really active about 4 months ago, when the moms were still all staying at home (babies 6 months old), before their little ones were crawling around. They would get together every week at someone’s apartment and it was very inclusive. Most of the members seemed genuinely nice, so that was cool.
Eventually, one-by-one, the moms went back to work. The group’s WhatsApp conversations slowly changed from a “playgroup and parenting” group to a “someone please meet with my kid and my helper” group. Then, it became a “therapy for moms who feel guilty for going back to work” group, and now more recently a “lets get together for wine while our helpers watch our kids” group.
There are some people who are in the group that I hang out with almost every day, and we have recently talked about there being a feeling that this group is becoming more and more “cliquey” (British working moms with helpers separating from the rest). What happened yesterday and today proved our feelings to be correct.
I wake up to a message yesterday in the group saying “Hey Ladies, I can get my helper to make dinner if you want to come over tomorrow.” (first of all, there are only 7 people in the group and I am a guy, so the invite is excluding me). Basically a few of the moms with helpers could get together. One of the women wrote that she was sorry she couldn’t see a few of the people who could not make it. In other words, there were a few others (myself included) who were basically treated like non-existent members, although we are quite active in the group.
Here’s the thing: I don’t care if you are going to have a get-together and not invite me. I get it. In this case, I’m a guy, you want a girl’s night. But if you are going to do that, there’s a rude and exclusionary way to do it, and there’s a nice way to do it. Ignoring my existence in a small group is not really a nice way to do it. It actually kind of hurts my feelings, especially when you JUMP at the opportunity to have me and my son have a play date with your kid and your helper during the week. You can grow up all you want and even have a good job and a child, but mean girls are still mean girls – even if they are full-grown women.
I guess my issue has to do with the lack of respect shown to me and the others in the group who are not back at work. I realize that it could very well be jealousy – after all, we are at home, and they might feel guilty about going back to work. But we are going places and doing things with our little ones, and there is probably some resentment there.
So, how did I handle my exit? Instead of writing to the group and saying I am leaving, I just dropped the group. Why make it a big deal? I already connect with the people from the group that I want to connect with, so the group no longer had a purpose anyway. The great news is that now I do not have to read the chatter and try to be supportive without any return from a bunch of over-privileged, whining, self-important people who have no real perspective in life. I’ve got other, positive people in my life who I’d rather invest time in, and that sounds nice to me. In other words: good riddance.