The Importance Of Finding Your Mom Group
When I got pregnant with my first, I didn't realize what the future had in store for me beyond a baby. I never pictured what my life would look like, especially during that first year of Maelle's life. I did, however, prepare for the arrival of our first as much as anybody could possibly prepare. From buying all of the necessities months in advance to reading every available mom book or blog. I watched documentaries, browsed forums, and attended our birth and babies class with a notebook in hand. But nothing could have prepared me for the isolation that is first-time motherhood. I was in a downward spiral. Caught in a cycle of feeding, pumping, sanitizing, changing diapers, laundry, and sleeping that left me feeling like I was repeating the same day over and over again. I can remember watching the clock slowly tick, resenting my husband more and more each passing minute he was late. I longed for him to walk through the door so I could (a) yell at him, but also (b) have the adult conversation that I had been craving all day. Old friends were nowhere to be found (through no fault of their own) as they had their own jobs/lives keeping them busy. I quickly realized that the key to not only surviving motherhood but also enjoying it was to make other mom friends. Individuals who were in the same phase of life as I was and could sympathize and empathize with all of my fears, frustrations, and jubilations.
No, I'm not saying that your lifelong friends who aren't in the newborn baby phase of life won't still be your best friends. I'm not even saying that your mom friends need to become your best friends. What I am saying, however, is that having mom friends will help you get through the rough patches of parenting. They will be your sounding board as you figure out the whys, hows, and what the hells of parenting.
Making mom friends isn't necessarily easy. One would think the desperation of a new mom carrying a car seat, 8 bags of essentials, hair a mess, and reeking of spoiled milk from the spit up that she didn't have time to clean would be a blaring beacon to other moms that she needs support, camaraderie, sympathy, and a cup of coffee. But the collective exhaustion leaves all new moms blind to these signs as they focus their attention on the needs of their new baby. With barely enough time to shower, making friends needs to be planned and scheduled. At around 1 month postpartum I made it part of my daily routine to get out of the house at least once a day. I intentionally went to places where I knew other new moms would be: the local coffee shop, library classes, postpartum work-out classes, and mom and baby playgroups. Then I put myself out there and I made connections. Authentic connections that only a mom can understand; the disdain for your mother as she directs you on how to care for your child or how you wanted to slide tackle your husband as he stomped his way past the sleeping baby's room.
You know. That kind of connection.
To that end, your mom friends are the only people who will truly understand what you are going through. The kind of understanding that can only be garnered when you live through the same experience at the exact same time (not years later when you look back on everything with rose-coloured glasses). To know what it is to be truly exhausted, frustrated, and overwhelmed with love. They will be able to relate to the mom guilt and baby brain because they are up against these challenges too.
Your mom friends will be your best sources of information. They will give you tips and tricks on what worked and didn't work for them. They will help you problem solve. They will provide you with new strategies or products that will help you navigate the obstacles you are facing.
Your mom friends get it. They get that you will undoubtedly rush out of their house at a certain time in order to get your baby back home to sleep. They get that you may have to cancel last minute due to a fussy or sick child. They get that you are worried about everything from their developmental milestones to their daily nutritional intake. They get that you are struggling just as they are.
Most importantly, your mom friends will make you a better mother. They will be there for support, they will listen to you vent, and they will help pass the long days. They will encourage you when you feel like giving up and will sympathize in the moments when you do. They will take you out of the isolating bubble of motherhood and hold the burden of parenting with you. They will love your children, help watch over them, share snacks when you've forgotten them, and lend a hand when yours are in use. They will be a safety net you may never need but are forever grateful is there.
Looking back on that first year of my daughter's life, some of the mom friend connections I made are, to this day, steadfast pillars in my life. Conversely, some have come and gone due to timing and circumstance. That first year was a journey like no other and those "playdates" were often the highlight of my long and repetitive days (they still are). I am thankful to all of the moms who are out there supporting me in my own journey. Those who have stood with me, if even for a short time. Thank you for taking a chance on me when I was probably at my worst, and sticking it out with me through the highs and lows. Not only myself, but also my children, are forever in debt to you for I am better because of you.