May is my Mom Anniversary month. My daughters were both born in May, and any mom will tell you – we don’t just celebrate our children’s birthdays: we also muse over their births, what they meant, how they went. What changes they bring to our lives!
My first opportunity to support another mom has its anniversary this month too. One of the other students from my Lamaze class called me to talk. She had loads of questions and concerns about her baby. I kept thinking “her baby is three days older than mine – she should know more than I do!”
But the other thing I kept thinking was, “This woman is so vibrant, smart and competent. She shouldn’t be a wreck. We need a mom’s support group around here!” So – one of my experienced friends (she had a two year old and a newborn) helped me, and we started what became one of the best experiences of my life: a support group for new moms. My own tribe. We have helped each other through thick and thin, and these women are family for me when my own blood relations are far away.
Why do moms need other moms? Here are some of the benefits I loved.
- Someone else will hold your baby.
That sounds stupid. And when you read that babies in other cultures don’t ever touch the floor for 100 days or six months or whatever – it sounds so lovely and romantic. And you don’t often read that the grandmas and grandpas and aunts and cousins are all holding the baby all the time. It’s not just the moms! So having someone else hold my baby was quite a relief – and then I wanted to hold her again because I had been watching her the whole time someone else was holding her and she was so wonderful and cute…You get the picture.
- The wide range of normal becomes apparent when you watch lots of babies.
I remember the first La Leche League meeting I ever went to. There were three baby girls there, all born the same week. One of them was sitting up, one was “airplaning” (getting ready for crawling) and my daughter was talking a mile a minute. All normal! I remember too encouraging a mom to get an experienced professional eye to look at her baby – he was NOT getting to his milestones very well. The mom was relieved to have someone else validate her own observations so she knew she wasn’t being a crank or a helicopter mom.
- You can be a “good enough” mother and your kid will turn out okay.
There’s so much pressure on parents today – fortunately we are not fighting over which preschools our kids get into here, but it’s hard not to over-think and over-worry things when you are home alone all the time with your baby. I felt bad for my oldest daughter – one time (quite a bit later on!) she said to me, “Hey, you’re the A student. I’m not an A student.” By the time my third kid came around I was too busy to bug him too much. (But hey! He was an A student!)
- A mom who is hovering to an unhealthy extent looks like something you don’t want to emulate. And you also don’t want to be that mom over there – the one who isn’t paying attention.
There’s plenty of things we learn by osmosis or by watching others when we are moms. Of course a lot also comes from our own childhoods, watching our own moms. But how many times pre-children did you say, “I will never —–“ and then you have your own baby and there you are re-playing that script! The chance to see other moms and babies interacting in the real world, makes us part of a giant classroom that gives us a chance to observe – but also to talk things over with other moms who are just as crazy about babies and life as we are.
- Nurturing each other
Once in a while in our mom’s group we would take the time to write notes to each other. We would pack them into a little package for ourselves, and they were available to read on a bad day. Always, always, that validation would go straight to your heart and make it possible to soldier on. (I remember once saying to the mom of a three month old, “You are such a good mom.” She looked startled – and said no one had ever said that to her. We all need to hear it – it should never be taken for granted.)
- Someone else will think your child is wonderful when you are ready to kill them. And someone else will have answers when you are at the end of your rope.
I remember encouraging one of my friends to call the doctor. It was 4 PM on Friday and she was worried about her baby getting sick. She “didn’t want to bother the doctor” – I knew that feeling. But I knew it was going to be harder to get hold of her own doctor in an hour. Just call! I also remember trading child care time – and since I had three kids, the other mom usually got the short end of the stick.
We helped keep each other alive. We could truly share. And no one cared as much about baby poop as we did.
I invite you to join us any Wednesday morning for New Moms Network, here at BMH. The hospital is so gracious and good to moms for keeping this wonderful program going – and we’re so lucky to have area experts who are willing to come talk to us! I promise you will find good info and good women! (And there’s no charge, and no registration needed.)
We meet Wednesday mornings from 930 – 11:00 AM in the Exercise Room. You can check out our schedule at http://bmh.wpengine.com/events-calendar/new-moms-network
Or join us on Facebook at the Brattleboro New Moms Network page https://www.facebook.com/dawn.kersula?ref=tn_tnmn#!/groups/132157200149563/