I’m sorry to disappoint you, but mine’s not. Here I am, flitting about while little miss naps and my phone is abuzz with text messages from wonderful, supportive women. Women who I would not know were it not for my divine little sprog. How do we support each other, you might ask? Well, nine months in it’s more than just nappy creams and the occasional rash (though that, of course, still applies), but we also listen when things are shit, sympathise when things feel tough, laugh with things get ridiculous … and drink wine together when the shit hits the fan! So, while I think about these new friends who have made the first nine months so much easier for me, I thought it was a good time to resurrect an old article I wrote about the fabulousness that is mothers’ group a few months ago …
Four reasons you should give mothers’ group a go
Recently, a couple of posts about bullying mothers’ groups have come my way via Facebook. And, often, I hear terrible stories of women who are not supporting each other, or of people who have gone to mothers’ group only to feel the hard stares of judgement and appraisal.
It is because of this I entered parents’ group (which, in my case, turned out to be a mothers’ group) with trepidation, fully prepared to hate it. In fact, I recall the day before telling my partner I didn’t want to go. “Go,” he insisted. “It’ll be good for you to get out of the house, meet new people.” He was right, but I didn’t like it.
I remember sitting in the room, gently holding my then three-week-old against my chest, looking at all these new mothers, watching one baby completely saturate their onesy in poo (I had not yet felt the warmth as that yellow stain rose up the back, but it wouldn’t be far away) and thinking, “I can’t do this”. I was prepared for judgement, prepared for discomfort, prepared for a room full of women with different ideals than me. What I was not prepared for was finding in that room a community, a group of friends and support that I would need for who knows how many years.
Yes, I’m sorry to break it to you. But I’m going to tell you why I think mothers’ group is the bee’s knees.
It provides you with a support network
I know it seems like an obvious one, but having people you can draw on for advice, people who are going through the exact same thing the moment you are, is invaluable. Sure, you have your parents, friends and other family to help, but more often than not they do not recall with complete clarity what it was like to have a tiny baby or, for that matter, how to handle it. Sure, your mothers’ group may not have the solution, but they have more compassion and support than most others – after all, they’re going through it too.
For our group, the support goes beyond a once-a-week catch up, with Facebook and Whatsapp groups connecting us any time of the day – quite handy when you’re looking for people to chat to at 5am when bubs decides to get up!
It provides you with new friends
I live in an inner-city suburb and, until I had kids, I felt anonymous in my suburb – which I didn’t mind at the time. Now, I feel like I’m part of a community. Perhaps it’s because people remember “the lady with the pram”, but I also think it’s because now I walk down the street and I see friends, other pram champions grabbing their coffees, or strolling around the lake. And while your pre-baby friends are still around, it’s good to meet people who can relate to your here and now.
It gives you something to do
Not that being a new parent doesn’t keep you busy, but mothers’ group is a space where you can be frazzled, unkempt and miserable and still be accepted (at least, it should be). Not only that, but when you’re having a hard day, sometimes just talking it out with others makes everything seem better. And getting out of the house is often the best stress reliever available, second maybe to a nice glass of wine!
It helps your child become social
Parents groups aren’t just for the parent. It’s just as important for your child to be social as it is for you. It sounds ridiculous, but sometimes my lovely daughter is better behaved after mothers’ group – I swear they’re all whispering tips to each other with their baby babble. Even if they aren’t, the act of playing, sharing and touching other babies helps her cerebral development and stimulates her in ways that sitting at home with Mum can’t.
I’m not going to pretend that everyone in my mothers’ group is the same. We are all individuals, we all have different needs, and different priorities. We are all different parents. We are vegetarians and carnivores; morning people and night owls; latte drinkers and tea drinkers; Buggaboos and Mountain Buggys. We are, however, accepting of our differences, and support each other, while respecting each other’s choices.
My point is this: I know not everyone is going to have the perfect group, but it’s worth giving it a go. And not every week is going to be easy. Some weeks I thought about abandoning mothers’ group altogether – it was just one more obligation in a long line of newborn obligations – but I sure am glad I continued.