When it comes to motherhood, there are lots of things up for debate: breast or bottle? Cloth or disposable? Crib or co-sleep? Public, private, or homeschool? The list drags on and on and on…But there is one thing on which we can all agree:
Motherhood is lonely sometimes.
Even though parenthood is the great equalizer — we all deal with sleepless babies, diaper blowouts, sassy toddlers, and eventually sassier teenagers — it’s easy for our tired mom brains to make us wonder if maybe we’re the only ones with this problem or who is this tired or who is this hot messy. We need friends who are in the same stage of life who understand what we’re going through, friends a few years ahead of us to help guide us along the way, and a few friends even newer on this parenting journey that we can encourage and will remind us that we have our own wisdom to offer. Where does such a magical collection of mom friends exist?
Enter Mom Groups.
Whether you’re the first of your friends to start a family (hollaaaa that was me), new in town and don’t have connections yet, or just needing some soul sisters outside of your everyday circle, mom groups (in theory) exist for connection. Some meet in the mornings for stay-at-home/work-at-home moms, some meet on weekends for traditional working mamas, some are religious, some are built around shared interests or neighborhoods; whatever the basis is, mom groups are designed to help us feel less lonely in this journey.
Now, they’re not all rainbows and butterflies. Last week, Ashley shared her traumatic (and, let’s be honest, hilarious) story of being a Mom Club Reject. As a four-time C-section mama myself, I was livid as I read the account, but once I got over the initial anger, my deepest emotion was profound gratitude for my mom group experience.
When I first had kids, I didn’t want to join a mom group because I was so sure everyone would be terrible, annoying, condescending, and judgmental (hello irony). Honestly, it would have been difficult for me to attend anyway, as I worked Monday through Friday and spent weekends busy as a pastor’s wife. But when I had my third child in three-and-a-half years, daycare for three was simply cost-prohibitive, and I reluctantly entered the world of being a stay-at-home mom. I wasn’t reluctant because I didn’t want to be with my kids; rather, I was terrified that I wasn’t good enough and would somehow ruin them by forcing them to be with me 24/7. Knowing my fears and also my pre-determined judgment of mom groups, my own mother literally dragged me to my first mom group, the MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) program at her church. I even made my mom come in and sit with me so I wouldn’t be alone with all those other *scowl* moms. (Could I BE a bigger snob?? Just wow, @ past MB.)
What I found that Tuesday morning was not the group of pretentious sanctimommies I expected. It was a room full of real people with the same real issues I faced. There were other 26-year-olds with three kids like me. There were brand new moms that were 21 and some that were 35. There were homeschooling moms and moms whose big kids were off at public school during our meetings. There were moms who looked as thin and put-together as before having kids, and there were more (like me) who felt lumpy and frumpy in their new bodies and barely made it out the door with unwashed hair and yoga pants. There were “mentor moms” whose kids were in high school and beyond who helped serve coffee and brunch and hold fussy babies so the mommies could chat. There were other moms who were nervous that no one would like them, but just like me, they found a group of women more interested in loving than judging.
Of course, no group is perfect because humans are not perfect. I’m sure the leaders dealt with drama from time to time, but for the most part, they provided a restful space for me and other young moms to be planted, nourished, and to grow into healthy motherhood.