For many first time mums, mothers groups are almost like a rite of passage. I know they can be a mixed bag, some mums love them and the friendships they offer and others find them a breeding ground for comparisons, guilt and competitiveness. My experience most definitely falls in the former.
My mothers group has been meeting for more than a year now, almost every week, for a regular catch up and play date with our little ones. We have shared our highs and lows, our runny noses, day care waiting lists, challenging and sleepless nights, milestones, first birthdays and all other manner of baby related topics. But we have also shared other aspects of our lives and who we are; our husbands and partners, our careers, our families and little snippets of information shared while juggling a hungry baby, changing a nappy and now chasing after adventurous walkers.
For me, that first meeting was a godsend. After living in our little community for five years and commuting into the city for work, I hadn't really had a chance to meet many other local women. I had hoped that when Miss S arrived, I would meet some local mums. By the time I arrived at my first get together of mothers group, Miss S had been in the world for over three months, but only home for a few weeks. Yes I'd had longer to get to know my little one, but it had been done in the hospital environment surrounded by nurses and doctors, and so being at home with Miss S and me as the responsible adult, meant I came into mothers group with all the same questions and concerns any new mum has.
And what I encountered was a group of mums, all going through the same thing, and a wonderful group of women who have become my friends, women I trust and genuinely like. We don't continue to catch up just because, but we do so because we like each other and genuinely enjoy each other's company. Our catch ups have extended to a mum's night out (planning for another one is underway), BBQs with our husbands and partners, birthday parties for our precious little ones and regular walking catch ups followed by a much needed coffee or in my case, a hot chocolate or tea.
I also have no doubt Miss S enjoys catching up with this little bunch of babies. They have seen each other almost every week for the past year and there is a sense of familiarity. Like most one year olds, there's not a lot of playing together, but I have no doubt in the years to come, they will be great friends. And yes, I do hope we will continue to catch up in the years ahead. Yes, it may become more challenging, if and when more bubs come along, all combined with day care, school and work, but hopefully we will still make the time to get together.
I have recently been asked by a few friends pregnant with their first hub about mothers groups and my advice has been to give it a chance. I think about what I would have missed out on had I decided a mothers group was not for me simply because I was worried about stories of competitiveness and constant comparing of babies. One of the many things I have learned since having a baby and having a baby prematurely is Miss S will do things on her time and so she should. Instead, as mums, we should enjoy the new experiences and friendships our bubs have brought us.
What's your experience of mothers groups? Did you meet other mums? Do you still catch up? What makes it work?