I’m not really a joiner. While I’m very social, I tend to ensconce myself in a tight-knit group of friends, rarely expanding my circle. But when I stopped working during my last month of pregnancy, I quickly began to feel isolated; most of my friends either worked or lived too far away to call for a last-minute hang. So when my husband was at work, I found myself completely alone. After a few weeks, I found myself engaging grocery store clerks in conversation just for a little human interaction. Yikes.
My son was due in January and on Christmas Eve we went to my sister-in-law’s house for dinner. I was huge. So big, in fact, that even my maternity clothes strained to contain the new life that hiccupped and kicked inside me. It was only natural that my belly was front and center during the dinner conversation, especially because my husband and I were the only ones at that table who didn’t already have kids. We traded stories about the emotional conflict of putting a career on hold to have a child, and when I mentioned that I was starting to feel isolated, the seasoned moms laughed.
“You think THIS is isolating? Just wait until you have an infant and your whole day revolves around when they eat, sleep, and poop!”
Then someone suggested I look into a local mother’s club so I could connect with a community of women who were sharing the same experience. “You may not click with most of the group, but you’ll find one or two really good friends…and at the very least you’ll have access to the online childcare board for finding babysitters.”
A few weeks later, when I’d exhausted all capacity to occupy myself by cooking freezer meals, re-folding newborn clothes, and sending thank-you notes for baby gifts, I took the plunge and joined. It was the best decision I could’ve made both for myself and for my child.
When my son arrived, Moms’ Group became not only a place to trade war stories, it helped me rediscover myself during a time when every moment was devoted to my baby. It was a reason to shower and change into clothes that weren’t covered in puke even though I was so exhausted I could barely keep my eyes open long enough to put on mascara. It taught me not only that I could get out of the house with a newborn, but that I should. Because not only was I happier on days that I escaped the cocoon of our home, I was a better mom.
The other womens’ experiences and energy reassured me that I wasn’t a total failure and infused me with positivity and patience for my child. On days when I worried I’d made a huge mistake by becoming a parent, I could usually count on one or more moms to admit they felt the same way. And when I noticed a behavior in my child that concerned me, it was incredibly reassuring to show up for a meeting and see that several of the other babies were doing the same thing. The overwhelming message we were sending each other was “You’ve got this.” Over time, our group grew even closer. In between the music classes and playground visits we made room for honest, non-judgmental conversations about everything from making time for sex to convincing kids to quit the binkie. It was – and still is three years later – one of the best examples of women supporting women I’ve experienced.
True, not everyone in the group ended up being BFF’s, but I was surprised at just how many women I clicked with; enough that when I try to book a group dinner, it’s hard to find a table large enough to accommodate all of us. It’s the tribe of smart, REAL women I’ve always coveted, but could never find on my own.