I didn’t do mothers group very well. I was OK in the beginning, making conversation, inquiring after babies and husbands and sick fathers-in-law but, before long, I became self-conscious and, kind of, distracted. While I really liked the other women, the structure of mothers group wasn’t for me.
I have always been plagued with the comparison disease, that condition that compels you to compare yourself to everyone around you, and which ultimately results in you feeling inferior (and that’s the main symptom). This is bad enough on a personal level but it’s not pretty when you start doing the same with your divine little newborn.
The Abomb did not sleep through the night until 5 months. When I write those words now I can only laugh and laugh and laugh. Why? Because I used the word ‘until’ like he was late or something. And I laugh because Lbaby is nowhere near sleeping through the night at 8 1/2 months of age and Sdash didn’t sleep through until about a year ago. How little I knew as a first-time mother!
See, when I was attending my mothers group each week, the Abomb was behind most of the other kids in terms of sleeping through and I was obsessed by it. It was the thing that each mother announced each week when we first met. ‘Taylor is finally sleeping through’ (when our bubs were 10 weeks old), ‘Jackson still isn’t sleeping through’ (at 12 weeks), ‘Charlie was sleeping through and now is waking 3 times a night. He’s totally regressed’ (at 14 weeks). And at the time, I didn’t have the inner strength to ignore this talk. To change the subject. To be grateful I was still getting that beautiful feeding time during the night. To relax and sip my latte. No, I kept quiet, but not because I wasn’t interested, not because I didn’t want to join the conversation, but because if I spoke I’d have had to admit that the Abomb and I were not ‘succeeding’ at this aspect of babyhood.
I don’t like the comparison disease at all and I hate the way it makes me feel. It’s the one thing I have worked to change in myself. And this disease is completely self-perpetuated. My discomfort with mothers group was not the fault of the other lovely mothers in the group (and they were really lovely), it was my own. Attending mothers group exacerbated this weakness in myself and I didn’t like it so I stopped going.
But also, mothers group really bought home to me another aspect of my personality, something which had been brewing inside me for a while but which definitely came to a head at this time. Fact: I am an introvert. I’ve spent a large part of my life behaving like an extrovert but never enjoyed it. Realising that I do not get energy from being around a lot of people, acknowledging that I find it really hard, has been probably my most important life lesson thus far. This will shock a lot of people I have known. Suffice to say I play extrovert really well. But mothers group made me realise that I don’t actually find it easy spending a few hours at a time with 15 other women all sharing our babystories and our lives.
Don’t get me wrong, I have awesome friends who I love spending time with one-on-one or in a small group. And I do enjoy speaking about our babies (at least with those 3 friends I have with children) but the conversation is so much more satisfying for me because we can actually delve into issues. Because I am more relaxed and myself, we can engage on a more personal level.
S0, I felt instantly better when I stopped going to mothers group. The pressure I’d felt each week just lifted. I realised that in the hours before our weekly meet-up I would get out-of-breath, my heart would race and I feel distracted. This all stopped when I ‘dropped-out’. I was able to focus on my beautiful unique new baby rather than on who he was in comparison to his peers. But ultimately I felt truer to myself and therefore to my baby, and that was the most important thing of all.
What about you? How is or how was your mothers group? So many friends of mine rave about their mothers groups, and I’m always jealous (and the comparison disease flares again).