This is a story for all the new moms or soon to be moms who don’t think a new moms group is for them. Whether or not you think it’s for you, I urge you to try it out. Attend two meetings, and if you hate it, I’ll never ask you about it again. Here is my story. Promise me that you’ll read to the end. This is a love story, I promise, we just have to get there.
I can’t remember a time that I didn’t yearn to be a mom. I knew it would be hard, but I could not have imagined how hard. When the day finally arrived that my little girl made her entrance into the world, I was so ready to be her mom. By day four of her life, I was exhausted. By day seven, I was questioning everything. But I couldn’t tell my family because admitting that motherhood was anything but bliss meant failure, right? I realize now that was crazy, but at the time, I felt like everyone expected me to say motherhood was the best thing that ever happened to me – even if they said it was okay to be tired or stressed or anxious.
Even before I delivered, several people had mentioned that I should try attending a local new moms group that met weekly and had been really helpful to them. At first, I thought to myself, I’m not really a “sit around and talk about my feelings with strangers” kind of person. By week two of being a mom, I was ready to give it a shot.
Honestly, I was ready to give anything a shot.
I remember walking in being nervous about what exactly to expect. We went around the room and each mom shared with the group what struggles or triumphs they had experienced that week. Other women in the room would offer advice to moms with challenges and offer congratulations to moms with new successes. And then it was my turn. Thoughts raced through my head. Do I share that I’m worried because my milk hasn’t come in yet, or that I’m exhausted because my daughter sounds like a barn animal when she sleeps? No. These women won’t understand, they’ll think I’m doing something wrong, or that there is something wrong with my daughter. So instead, I quickly (and nervously) said, “My daughter is three weeks old, and things are going pretty well”.
The group ended after everyone had shared, and the group broke into informal chatter. The group facilitator said this was our time to “build our village”. I sat there, smiling intently at my baby, hoping that someone would invite me into their conversation. After what felt like an eternity, but was probably only a couple of minutes, I gave up and slinked out.
As I drove home, I struggled to land on how I felt about the experience. I was simultaneously disheartened that I didn’t make any new friends, puzzled at how everyone shared so openly with one another, hopeful that maybe I would be courageous enough to share something more honest next time, and somewhat inexplicably, couldn’t wait to go back, wanting desperately to make a mom-friend.
Looking back, I really can’t explain what drew me back. I didn’t learn anything earth-shattering and I didn’t bond with anyone but, I went back the next week. This time, I shared with the group that my daughter only went two hours between bottles, and that two hours included the 45 minutes it took her to drink the bottle. This continued all day and all night – I was tired. Several moms in the group offered suggestions or advice and several others just gave looks that said, “Same girl, same.” It felt so incredibly comforting to know I wasn’t alone. In the moment, I felt tired, but more so, I felt alone. After the group ended, another mama asked if I wanted to attend storytime with her later that week. I happily accepted and we had a great time.
Soon after, the real-life group created a Facebook group and moms started posting activities looking to see if anyone wanted to join. I went all in. If I didn’t have a conflict, I was going. I met some amazing women who provided truly valuable perspectives on parenting. I finally got comfortable enough to share my own experiences with them and found over and over again a resounding theme; same girl, same. We were all going through the same struggles and the same exciting new firsts, not only with our babies, but with our own development as humans and mothers, and having similar experiences in our relationships with our significant others.
The group quickly became a tight-knit community of trusted confidants where we could rely on each other for guidance, support, and celebration. We are mostly all back to work now, so the in-person meet-ups are less frequent, but I’ve made friendships with some truly incredible women who I now can’t imagine surviving motherhood without.