Most of the moms in my mom group have gone back to work or are about to, letting their significant other have a few months of paternity leave. This means that my mom group is at a crossroads. Even though I think we are going to stay in touch and maybe meet up once in a while, with and without our kids, the daytime meet-ups in the middle of the week will soon be over.
This week only three of us were able to meet up and soon it might only be two. I’m the last one to start work as Ben and I have decided that I get close to all of the available parental leave. That’s what made sense to us back then and we are still happy about the decision. It does however mean that I will have been away from work for a little over a year when I return. I sometimes miss it, but I think I’m going to miss staying at home with Eva even more. Oh well, for now that’s just the way it is going to be.
This weeks mom group meet-up got me thinking about mom groups in general. I feel like I’ve been quite fortunate with mine. None of us really stand out in a bad way. Rather I feel like we’re a good fit. All of us are first time moms and are about the same age. Not that this is necessarily the recipe for a succesful mom group, but I do think it helps to have some things in common, even if it is just age and inexperience.
I know people have different experiences with their mom groups and not all are good. Some are actually pretty bad. My experience is however really awesome and I feel like sharing how great it can be. Who knows, maybe it can be a help for someone who is just now trying to decide whether or not to join a mom group, and all they’ve ever heard are the horror stories. You know, the ones with the judgemental, know-it all moms, who makes you qustion your abilities as a parent after just 5 minutes in their company.
What makes my mom group work
My mom group was put together by a health care professional who works for the city I live in. It’s an offer every mom in Denmark gets when she has given birth and you can easily decline if you are not interested. It’s different from city to city how the groups are matched up: some go by age of the mom and some by the day of birth of the baby. Some are a mix of first time moms and moms who have been through it before, while others are only for first time moms. Some take socioeconomic statuses into consideration while other’s don’t.
My mom group consists of 6 women around the age of 30, who have just become moms for the first time. We all gave birth in a 3 week window of each other and live a maximum of 2 km apart. We are all on leave from work or have just finished university and are looking for a job. We usually meet at each others places to talk and drink coffee. On occasion we’ve gone for a walk, gone to the movies, or done some other baby related activity like CPR for babies, but mostly we’ve mastered the art of drinking hot beverages and talking. And I must say, we’re really great at it.
Leftovers from a succesful mom group just before Christmas. No cookies survived.
Anyway, I have spent the last few days reflecting on why I love my mom group and what makes it work. This is what I came up with:
- The other moms just get you. You just have to say one word and the other moms know what you’re going through. They get why you can’t make an appointment at 1 pm, because it will interfer with your baby’s nap. They get that you’ve googled “how to get baby to sleep” way, way to many times. And they get why you sometimes feel both overwhelmed with pride and frustration at the same time.
- There are no competetive comparisons of the children. Instead there’s room to feel pride. I think this one is really important in why our group works. Our children develop at different paces and have different preferences. One is a fast crawler, and one can’t stop talking. One is growing like a weed, and one has what seems like a full set of teeth. One can handle a fork, and one can drink from a cup. And we have all accepted that they are different, though all of them are pretty darn gorgeus.
- No one expects you to know everything in advance. We are all first time moms and that might be the reason why none of us expects each other to know it all. I mean, how would we know? This attitude gives us plenty of room to ask those so-called silly questions. I mean, how do you judge whether not pooping for several days is normal for a baby or not?
- Someone has always been through just about any scenario that you can imagine. And they’re always ready to help with advice. We’ve all hooked up on Facebook and with great success. When in doubt about what to do when your baby has a fever for the first time or you have milk knots in your breast, someone has always tried it before and can give a few helpful tips. It’s not like we don’t google things, but sometimes the answers you find online are not specific enough, doesn’t really relate to your question or there’re just too many opposing ideas on what to do.
- There’s room to feel, look, act, and sound exausted. Some days I’ve had so little sleep that I’ve kept forgetting what I was in the middle of saying and all I’ve gotten was sympathy… and an extra cup of coffee.
- It’s a judgement free zone. We have different opinions on how to do things, including raising our children, but there’s room to share these different views without making the other’s feel like they’re doing something wrong. Unless one of us is suddenly insisting that letting babies play with steak knives is the best way to prepare them for nursery, I don’t think we would tell one another that their way of raising their child is wrong.
- We can laugh together. Laughing just makes everything easier. And sometimes the most frustrating days are made so much more duable when we’ve laughed about it. You know, those poop on everything, no sleep and baby won’t stop crying-days.
- No one is weirded out that the subject of poop or other bodily fluids keep reappering in conversation. Well, at least if we are talking about the babies. I would think it was weird if it was not their poop we were discussing. For some reason however, poop is just something you start talking about when you have a baby. It’s right up there with pacifiers and the many adventures of breastfeeding.
- It’s a nice mixture of adult conversation and baby cooing. To be honest, being in a mom group is really about the mom’s socialization rather than the babies. At least in the beginning. The latter might come later, but in the beginning it’s just wonderful for us moms to talk to other adults, but still be able to jump between adult topics and talks about diapers. I don’t have a lot of friends with children, and especially not a lot with babies the same age as Eva, so the group has been great at filling that void. It’s so nice to talk to women (and men) in the same situation as myself.
- We have all made an effort to prioritize the group. It doesn’t sound like much, but in this day and age I think it is. All of us have a ton of different things we could be doing, but we’ve still found the time to meet up as well as answer the many questions we’ve posted to each other in our group on Facebook. In the beginning being in the group also helped me to dare venture out of the apartment with Eva on my own.
Hosting the mom group is also a great way for Eva to discover the toys she didn’t know she had. Or didn’t bother to play with before one of the other babies gave it some attention.
One of the reasons why I think our group turned out to be this way is the fact, that we talked about how we wanted it to be from the get go. None of us felt that comparing our own skills as parents or how our children developed would bring anything positive to the group, so we decided against it from day 1. And even though we also decided to meet at each others homes, we’ve also made it clear that we shouldn’t feel pressured into impressing each other with our amazing baking skills or neat and tidy homes. If somebody wanted to bake a cake, it would be great, but definitely not something you should feel bad about not doing so. I did bake some buns one time (I however forgot to serve them because of my sleep deprived brain), but mostly I’ve just bought some cookies, some fruit and made tea and coffee.
Overall I think being in the group has helped me feel more confident in my new role as a mom. Especially in the beginning. The way we’ve helped each other and laughed about our frustrations, it has just made things so much easier. And that’s really what I think being in a mom group is all about. Sharing, laughing and growing as a mom in the company of other moms.