Internet Time Machine

Moms Anonymous

Learning to love 25,000 strangers in an online birth club

Summer Block
Human Parts
Published in
11 min readJun 12, 2019

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Photo: Jasmin Merdan/Getty Imags

This story is part of the Internet Time Machine, a collection about life online in the 2010s.

II took two months off spinning class because of first-trimester nausea, so when I showed up this week at my regular Monday 6 p.m. class at the Y, everyone was very excited to see me. There was a lot of exclaiming over my new bump, and in the first few minutes of warm-up everyone chimed in about how many kids they had, or wanted to have, and when, and how old they were then, and how old they are now.

I mean it perfectly sincerely when I say I love the members of the YMCA Monday 6 p.m. spinning class. The class has around two dozen regular members. Most are middle-aged women, but there are also teenagers and elderly members, as well as half a dozen men. Some appear very fit, from the outside anyway, while others do not. Some wear slick prismatic cycling unitards and others, cotton T-shirts they got for free from fun runs in the early ’90s. About half have those clip-in cycling shoes. They work in a variety of professions, with a tendency toward below-the-line studio workers (I live in Los Angeles). The instructor’s husband is a camera operator; another member is a stunt person.

I only know about half their names. I know my instructor is 50 and has three children (two of whom are twins). I know the youngest girl in our class is her niece, who is in college and is dating several young men but isn’t serious about any of them. I know the woman in the headscarf in the back is a 60-year-old breast cancer survivor who was once in the armed forces. I know that one retired couple goes on a lot of package tours, biking around vineyards. I know one woman translates everything for her mother, who doesn’t speak English. The two of them are also mall-walkers. I know another woman is constantly getting paged by the YMCA daycare staff because her toddler needs a diaper change. One man fondly complains about how much his daughter’s wedding is costing him. Another man is a sort of unofficial class assistant employed by the YMCA — he leaves halfway through class every time after giving everybody high fives. One woman goes out for margaritas every Saturday night and goes to church every Sunday…

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Summer Block
Human Parts

Writer for Catapult, Longreads, The Awl, The Toast, The Rumpus, McSweeney’s, and so on. Owner of After-Party Taxidermy. Working on a book about Halloween.