By the time this blog post will go live, my daughter will have already began school. While part of me is sad because it officially marks her entering the world and will now be subjected to teachings from “the establishment”- sounds sombre, I know…it also means she won’t be attending mother and toddler playgroups, which for me, internally- is a blessing!
Honesty time; I’m not sure if I’m the only one or of a rare lot of mothers, but mother/baby playgroups or birthday parties, give me a high level of anxiety. I don’t know what specifically causes this deep feeling within me, but I just never feel up to the task. This is quite clearly something that has developed over the last 4 years as before, I had zero reasons to interact within these circles…So, read on with this brain dump as I confess to you my feelings of inadequacy. I will also add that this is in no way a negative towards mother and toddler groups, as they serve a very important purpose, I am merely sharing my hidden “fear” or insecurities regarding the matter.
What I Feel/Felt:
For whatever reason, it’s the one environment where I instantly felt judged, from the way my child behaves, to the way she’s dressed. How I’m dressed, makeup or no makeup, designer or no designer. I feel like it’s like a ridiculous parade where mothers bring their children to either reassure themselves of the good job they’re doing or to take notes. Of course, I am aware that this is stemming from my own judgement of these women, who out of fear and possibly shyness, I can’t seem to break the ice to get to know…😩
It wasn’t until I became pregnant, that I experienced the amount of judgement and unwanted feedback from oh so many! Most of all are well intentioned and a form of sharing and reminiscing over their own stories. But for me, the overwhelming amount of opinions and feedback felt too much and somewhat intrusive. So, it’s no surprise that when I attended my first mother and baby “meet” at the CLSC, I felt out of place. Everyone seemed to know the “right” questions to ask and looked like they knew what they were doing when I still felt in a daze about actually having another human to look after. This was really my first time being with a baby full time, I had held babies previously for the allotted two minutes, but my experience was severely lacking. I have to say that I hover between being so over eager that I’m noting every single piece of information down, to basically winging it all, because babies/kids don’t care about procedures. Upon giving birth, I attended a breastfeeding clinic and was told because she had gained so much weight in such a short period of time, I didn’t need to attend any more sessions and that I shouldn’t tell the other mothers how much she weighted as they were struggling with latching. I am aware that she was trying to be possibly funny and encouraging, but it proved to make me feel “bad” because I genuinely didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing and I was hoping to find this group as a way to connect with other new moms. In hindsight, I probably should have pushed through and kept looking for more groups, but the truth is I lost my confidence 😥. Being a new mom is such an “isolating” situation, your body is adjusting to the change, you have a baby to feed every couple of hours, you’re sleep deprived and barely sorting yourself out, so it’s very easy to get sucked into a baby vacuum.
I was never one to be very “gadgety” or very into brand names or really know much about them- to me, one of the MAIN focus of other moms, was a barrage of brand names, products and even more opinions. It was like if you weren’t spending your money to buy the top of the line whatever it was, you were in some way a bad mother/parent. It’s never been my mindset and I struggled with the way some mothers I came across used their newborns as an extension of themselves to accessorize and merchandise like a prop. Am I the only one who finds the idea of parading their child in a bigger social circle, weird? Or some bizarre mammalian dance, where we force our kids to show something they know how to do in the hopes of one upping another? Yea…while I know that playgroups are for children to bond, socialize and make friends, I could never escape the feeling of showing off our offspring…and well that never sat well with me. Before you say it, I know that this maybe isn’t done as a way to show off, and it is simply being proud of our children and their accomplishments, but I did find myself cringing at the premise; which to be fair, I probably have gotten caught up in as well. But trust that I have been blessed with the child who simply refuses to take part in said dance and I smile internally as it reminds me that she really is mine. 😁 All the while, she could wear hand me downs and be covered in dirt, I was more concerned with encouraging curiosity, wonder, exploration, getting her to play with toys that weren’t gender specific…the list goes on. To this day, I don’t care if she hasn’t the latest brand of clothing on (they will destroy it anyway), but I care that she’s a good person and makes good choices. I care that she’s compassionate and looks out for someone in need. Those to me are far more valuable than the name on the back of a t-shirt.
Fear of Not Fitting In:
I’ll hold my hand up, being in my thirties, this shouldn’t really be something I should be struggling with, right? 🤔 Well…I was wrong! Entering a group where everyone seems to know each other or had some sort of connection, other than producing a child, I could never seem to find the courage to break the bubble and make myself part of the “mom squad”. Whether it was because it seemed to be gossip orientated or because I wasn’t brave enough (mostly this reason), I just never managed to form any link to make me more at ease. Yes, I should be confident enough to just go over and say hello. Nope, I wasn’t. Or maybe crack a joke and ease my way in. Nope. None of it happened despite my promise to myself to do better the week later. Yes, I persevered and continued to attend, I was just the random mother, cradling a cup of coffee in the corner, willing the 2 hours to tick by quickly.
Ok, so be honest, am I alone in my oddities within mom/baby groups or am I being far too stuffy and judgy and didn’t give them my full effort? It’s ok, I can handle the criticism. I swear. Let us know, in the comments, on Facebook or on Instagram, better yet try ALL three!