The one with advice.
I’m not exactly a social butterfly.
So, needless to say, the thought of mother’s group absolutely fucking terrified me.
At our 3-week meeting with the community health nurse, we’re introduced to the sign-up for the local ‘parents group’. Fathers welcome. Having expressed concern about mother’s group to all who knew me, and being reassured that it’s all really helpful, I signed.
Why was I so worried about mother’s group? It wasn’t concern about them being bitchy and judgemental (as is the urban legend). I knew we’d at least 1 thing in common, and therefore have something to talk about.
Along I went.
Unsurprisingly, fathers may have been welcome, but apparently weren’t invited. As I arrived to a room of about 20 women and requisite infants, I knew immediately that I wasn’t going to find in this group what I actually needed.
So, I smiled politely. I went to all the official meetings. I joined the WhatsApp group. I eventually fell out of touch. They were all nice people. They just weren’t my people.
Then, I went back to work. I got stupidly busy. And I started to feel like crap. It all came to a head when, on an away day, we did a session on wellbeing and resilience. As the speaker ticked through all of the elements you need to maintain your wellbeing, everything came undone for me. I had none of these things. And, worse, couldn’t see how I could start to develop any of the elements.
I was pretty distressed.
A couple of days later, I was having lunch with a friend, and we started to talk about everything that was going on. He, very firmly, made me commit to making some immediate changes to the arrangements that were getting in my way.
Then, the next week, a colleague who’d noticed my response to the wellbeing session asked me if I was OK. I told her. Everything. She was so supportive. She gave me amazing advice. She’s a mum of two. She’d been there.
After that, my boss asked me how I was going. I told her, too. She also understood. She gave me great advice. And, she gave me permission to start thinking about myself. She’s a mum, too.
So, my two cents: Mother’s group might not be your thing. They may not be your people. So, find your own group of mums: you don’t have to meet up and swap purée recipes. You don’t even have to meet them at all: join a Facebook group, or find an online forum. You’re not actually alone. Chances are, someone else has felt like you do. And, then one day, you’ll see another mum who’s feeling a bit shit. And you’ll know what to do.