To become a mother is to be born again into a world ruled by paradox and governed by contradiction. We are equally isolated as well as eternally connected to every mother that ever lived in the modern world, across a medieval backdrop or from the heart of a primal yearning. In being one mother we are in a way, every mother in that our commonality is unique and strong and powerfully instinctual. And, even with this timeless and rooted connection, we are so very alone, so isolated. How can a new mom carry such an important, timeless role under these isolated circumstances? The answer, believe it or not, is as simple as mark it with B.
As a woman I have felt many strong "callings" to be a writer, a teacher, a mentor, a wife, a friend, etc. But, there are 2 voices, no matter how loud the others called, I could not ignore despite how hard I tried to muffle them. The first voice asks a simple question, repetitively through my days and in my sleep, "Where are your children?" Now, that answer is clear. They're both in their cribs dreaming of ballerinas and racecars. However, before I met my children, I didn't know how to answer that question, so the question became more of a raw spot on my psyche causing some nonspecific sorts of pains. The second voice I am called to answer daily asks "Who can you trust?" because no matter how much I convince myself that the solitary writer is a legitimate human state, it is not. We need each other. We validate each other and we build each other up.
I have a very clear memory of sitting alone, with my new 2 month old daughter in the family room feeling so disconnected and lonely. I was on bed rest about a month and 1/2 before I had my daughter, had her early and she had to stay in the Intensive Care Nursery for 10 days, which emotionally nearly killed me. Driving home from the hospital without your baby is not a fun feeling! So, while I was ecstatic to have her home with me, I was on the tail end of 3 1/2 months of a whole bunch of aloneness. So, I started to surf around on the computer while my sleepy little preemie caught some REM zzzs. I began by looking at things I could do with my baby, maybe some classes or something. I stumbled upon Mt. Diablo Mothers Club, a club in the East Bay of San Francisco.
I have another clear memory. It's of 4 little rollie_pollie babies, not even crawling yet, swimming around on a blanket trying their best to eat each other's feet, toys, hair, or whatever else they could manage to wrap their chubby little hands around. It's also of 4 new moms, one of them being me, laughing about trying to figure out how many pounds of fuzz our babies have ingested since birth, how we could make a duster into a onesie and clean the floor with our curious little rug-rats (kidding of course, please don't try this at home!), discussing how we've figured out how to manage diaper changes at inopportune times, how we understand each other and how frustrating it is to do stuff all day long but not remember at the end of it what we did or have anything to show for it, etc.
I also have a memory of putting my daughter down for the night on her first birthday and then walking back to where my friends, that I didn't even have less than a year ago, were waiting because even though the birthday party was over, good friends always close it down! I have a memory of my first trip to the zoo, with friends, all the parties, socials, meetings, etc. with a now extended group of friends. I have a memory of how my friends all supported me when I had my son a year ago as well! And how they all participated in the Mom Dins program for me, where club members bring new moms dinners in those first weeks home from the hospital. Such a life saver!!! I have memories of countless park dates, play groups, outings, hysterical laughing sessions . . .
And now, with all these clear memories, I have cultivated a very clear feeling of being connected with a group of really fun, amazing ladies who have been there, done that, and are willing to laugh and cry with me about it. This feeling called community is essential. I would not have found this community of moms if I didn't join MDMC.
Some new moms already have a tight community of fellow new moms when they have their first baby. I think that is so great but I also think that is rare. Most new moms have a handful of single friends, some friends with kids that are older perhaps, some work friends, but very rarely do we happen upon the good luck of finding a whole group of moms with kids the same ages, give or take, as ours who are also in need of some camaraderie. Joining a mothers club, also, is much more than just being in a playgroup. I feel like I have this extended family of smart, funny, down to earth moms with insight, suggestions, left over size 4 diapers they're willing to give you, and the list goes on. Our club has an online forum that you can post questions, heads up, items you want or items for sale, etc. We also have socials, sub-clubs, Mom Dins and In-a-Pinch meal programs, working moms support, a babysitting co-op, seasonal parties for the whole family, information expos on preschools in the area and summer programs, community outreach, a newsletter, and of course, a cornucopia of playgroups to choose from. I have made countless friends through my mothers club and continue to make new friends all the time! It was the absolute, single best thing I did for myself when I became a mom. I would say to any new mom that it is at least worth looking into if you are feeling cut off from others at all or just want to become a part of a great community!
Joining a club can be daunting, especially if you feel you are shy or not great at making friends. It might also seem suspicious to you if you feel it is embarrassing to have to join a club to make friends. I will say that from my experience, the moms in my club are anything but cliquey or unwilling to reach out to new members. My own nerves were quickly gone once I attended a few things and met some people. The best way to meet people in a club like this is to volunteer. I met some great people that way! And I personally feel there is absolutely nothing embarrassing about joining a club to make friends! Our neighborhoods don't work like they used to. Everyone in my neighborhood is closer to my parents' age, definitely not new moms! The friends I already had were still partying all night and sleeping in, in the morning, definitely not fitting in with new baby schedules! I would still be so very lonely if I hadn't found out about MDMC and then joined on the spot! It has made all the difference in my life.
Written by Lisa Cattrone
mother of 2 1/2 yr old girl and 1 yr old boy, For more articles by Lisa, mainly humor and a few good recipes go to phenommamma.wordpress.com
To find out more about MDMC go to mdmcmom.org
To find a mothers club in your area, search mothers club with a city or state