I will admit, I had a feeling I knew what I’d be writing about today a little ahead of time. There was a chance that something else fabulous would happen and I’d have to write about that instead, but that was not the case. So I was left with a bit of a softball for a Friday night. Phew.
A lot (too much?) is made in the media about the alleged ways that women like to tear into each other over their different choices and values, especially when it comes to motherhood. (It goes without saying that there is no equivalent representation for fatherhood). There are the so-called Mommy Wars, divisions over breastfeeding versus formula feeding, attachment parenting and cosleeping versus sleep training in a crib from birth, and whether to start solid food at four versus six months. To take the media’s word for it, we are even divided in our philosophies of the “right” way to become mothers – unmedicated homebirth versus scheduled C-section, et cetera.
You’d never believe it if you had been in my living room tonight, or at any gathering of the women from my New Mom’s Group over the past year.
At four weeks postpartum, I got my act together just enough to venture out and join a group for new mothers and their babies. Mostly I did it as a way to give some structure to at least one of the days of the week during my maternity leave, but I was also open to meeting other mothers and getting some good intel on baby-related activities in the area. Instead, I met six women and their adorable babies who would become my sanity-savers throughout the course of the next year.
It was one of those experiences where the chemistry of the group just clicked. Immediately, we started taking stroller walks with the babies and getting together outside of the formal group meeting time. We started doing meal exchanges, each cooking large batches of one thing then portioning it out to everyone else so we all cooked once and ended up with seven meals. When the babies got older, we did this with homemade baby food. We met for coffee after work, cookouts on the weekends, mom’s nights out to fun restaurants after the babies were in bed. This December, we did a gift exchange for the kids.
This is a group where we may not see each other for a month or more, but when we do it’s like continuing a conversation we just left off. It’s comfortable, and easy, and exactly what everyone should have in their lives during that vulnerable first year as a parent.
Here’s what the seven of us have in common: we’re women, mothers, and we want to do the very best by our kids and families.
Here’s what the seven of us differ on: most other things.
Some of us breastfed, some of us formula fed. Some of us returned to work full time at three months, some later, some part time. Some of us co-slept, some of us didn’t. But we’re all closing in on the one-year anniversary of becoming mothers this month, and we’ve all made it just fine with the paths we’ve chosen. Having the support of one another as we work through the endless transitions and guessing games that are the hallmarks of new parenthood has been wonderful. Having that support without a heaping side order of judgment and questioning of each other’s choices has been absolutely priceless.
Next month we’ll get together to celebrate the first year milestone for all of the babies in a joint first birthday party. As much as I am looking forward to celebrating my son’s first birthday with our families, the party with six of his oldest friends and six of my newest will be exactly how I want to celebrate my first mamaversary.
So, Fabulous Thing #8: Getting by with a little help from my friends.