In the weeks after my son was born, I remember feeling like I was drifting through newborn-hood with ease, euphoria and the glow of a mum that was just “meant to be”. Looking back, I think I was partly coping and partly high on my sleep deprivation and caffeine combo!
There is no doubt, however, that Mothers Group was and is my weekly light at the end of the tunnel. I’m in mummy love, which is why the break-up is so hard.
Joining the Mothers Group Tribe
Walking into my first Mothers Group session with a 6-week-old poppet in the pram was akin to my first day at school. I had packed my nappy bag the night before, I had checked and re-checked the pram walking route to the community centre, I allowed myself enough time to pick-up a takeaway large skim latte and… I was the first one there. After arriving, I fretted that my baby would need a nappy change, cry or even worse – need to be breastfed (which I hadn’t yet done with an audience) – at some point in the next hour. But I needn’t have worried. The next mum to arrive was a kiwi like me, super friendly, similar story, and I knew right away that everything would be fine as we were all in this experience together.
“Mothers Group” can take many forms and regardless of how your tribe is created (be it through your local community centre or chatting to mums at the local playground), the outcome is still the same and provides essential support, advice, guidance, friendship and love – particularly during those tough first months.
At some point in the past 12 months our Mothers Group transitioned from “essential” to “something-fun-to-do” status. Initially united in our cluelessness, we can now read our baby’s mind, pre-empt a dirty nappy and understand when they’re crying for the blue block instead of the green.
We’re no longer in survival mode, but rather looking for other likeminded individuals that we relate to as friends as well as mums. As much as I respect and admire all of the lovely mums I was fortunate to meet, I’ve found myself naturally gravitating towards the ones that have a similar approach to parenting, socialising, love, life and coffee habits as I do.
Some mums have returned to work after maternity leave, others have moved away from the area, and some are just naturally growing apart. Either way, our 20-strong group is starting to disperse.
I guess that’s to be expected, but after sharing such a special and intimate beginning with each and every one of them, there’s a part of me that feels like my family is breaking up.
I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, as so many mums I’ve spoken to have talked about similar scenarios with their own Mothers Group. I’ve come to the realisation that as a new mum I question myself daily and doubt myself frequently, so it’s important I surround myself with positive, supportive mums, and I shouldn’t feel guilty about that. Likewise, I’ve accepted that the blissful first year is coming to an end and we need to get back to our separate lives.
Where for art thou Mothers Group?
I’m happy to say that since our first official Mothers Group session we still meet regularly, and I’m definitely a proud member of my tribe; a group of inspiring, latte drinking, nappy rash discussing, café clogging, playground frequenting women, who always make me laugh when I need it most. I’m sure I’ve made some forever friends here.
The cherry on top is the accompanying gaggle of toddlers who I love to pieces – I’m sure in much the same way that actual tribes of women loved and cared for the children in a united way.
Mothers Group Etiquette
Mums can be a funny lot, so get the most out of your group by keeping these tips in mind…
- Share don’t brag: There’s a fine line between sharing your experiences and bragging about your child’s brilliance, but you’ll find you’ll get the support you’re looking for if you do more of the former
- No judgement: There are millions of ways to parent, so try to stay open minded
- Take advice with love: Take others advice as just that, and don’t feel pressured to act on anything you don’t agree with
- Let the parent, parent: Women can be very territorial with their kids, so be appropriate in your interactions with other children (i.e. don’t discipline another child or feed them something without checking with mum first)
- Show up: Organise get togethers and – just like you would any relationship – make the effort; this will help you feel a part of your tribe