When you’re a new mom, it’s easy to feel isolated. Chances are pretty high that there’s not a lot of adult interaction that happens between the hours of 8am and 6pm for you, so joining a mom group was probably suggested early on by friends or family. Unless you’re surrounded by friends having babies at the exact same time, though, you kind of have to step blindly into the mom group world. The things every new mom thinks about mom groups, but doesn’t say out loud, can vary, depending on the type of group that mom is in and the kind of connection or solidarity she is looking for.
The bad mom groups are a dime a dozen, if you ask me. Putting together a group of random individuals whose only commonality is having just had a baby can be a recipe for disaster, in terms of personality conflicts. A group of not-so-random women, however, ones that have at least one major thing in common (aside from having given birth) can make for a really amazing mom group, that fosters friendships that will last lifetimes. That was the case for me, when comparing the mom group in my neighborhood (where I was not in the same economic bracket as the other moms) to the PPD support group I found and joined, where our postpartum depression was what bonded us.
Mom groups can be a wonderful thing when you find the right one, and I hope that every mom out there eventually finds the support she needs to get through the tough parts of motherhood. Here are 10 things every new mom thinks about mom groups, but doesn't say out loud, because just like parenthood itself, you have to take the good with the bad.
There’s nothing worse than hanging out with a bunch of people who only have babies in common. At least, that was my experience. I was in a baby activity group early on, and virtually every woman there brought her nanny with her or disappeared for weeks at a time to “vacation in the Caribbean.” Meanwhile, there I was, barely able to afford rent on my two-bedroom bungalow. Needless to say, I didn’t make any friends.
I have very little patience for people who play games and, I hate to say it, but sometimes pettiness and judgement wins out over the support you hoped to find in a mom group. I’ve witnessed some brutal gossip between mothers, about other mothers, and it makes me want to shake those women and ask, “Aren’t we here to lift each other up?” It's like Mean Girls all over again.
On the other hand, when you have a good group of moms, it can be everything. My prenatal class hit it off so well that we ended up getting together regularly, all through the first several years of our kids’ lives. We also had emails going back and forth, comparing notes in between those visits, and sometimes they were the only things that kept me going.
The great mom groups are the ones where you share the awful moments, not just the good ones, because every mom has likely experienced the same things at one point or the other. Hearing that what you’re going through isn’t that unusual can help more than you can imagine. My PPD support group was so important, for that very reason.
There’s always a braggart in any group, and mom groups aren't excluded. I’m actually pretty sure that was me the first time around, so to all my mom friends out there who had to listen to me talk about my daughter being so smart or whatever I was bragging about: I’m so sorry.
Nothing like watching other babies hit their milestones on time, or even early, and wondering why your baby isn’t there yet. The fact is, there’s a range of ages for most babies to hit the major milestones, and while you may know that logically, when you see all the other babies moving on it’s hard not to panic.
There’s nothing like a room full of moms not doing what you do, to make you feel like you’re being judged (whether that’s actually happening or not). I still remember wondering what the other moms thought of me pulling out a nipple shield to nurse with, when I was at my first La Leche League meeting.
There’s also nothing like a room full of moms who get what you’re going through, and are willing to help any way they can. If you’re not getting this from your current mom group, I suggest looking for another, because they are out there. Trust me.
Even the most supportive mom group often has "that mom," who found her way in there and disrupts what would be an otherwise pleasant experience. Pretty sure it’s like some kind of law of numbers or science or something. Now, I can say this, because I'm pretty sure I'm "that mom," in all of my groups. You can't keep us out, you guys. Sorry.
The amazing, supportive mom group, where you make friends that last a lifetime is not a unicorn. I promise. I consider myself so lucky to have met the women from those groups that I continue to be friends with, despite moving out of the city. I hope that every single mom gets to have the same experience, because that mom village is everything, especially on those difficult days.