I just read an entry on the blog Rookie Moms about joining a mother’s group and how difficult it can be to talk about all the real issues we may be having. So often, we want to demonstrate to the world that everything is fine – no post-delivery pain, sleeping babies, easy breastfeeding, etc. – as if we’re supposed to be instantly transformed into Super Mom when we give birth. We put way too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. But how often is that really the case?
I have been fortunate enough to find a group of supportive women to go on this journey with. We met in prenatal yoga. Our instructor encouraged us to get to know each other outside of class, and it’s some of the best advice I got during pregnancy. Five of us began meeting after yoga for lunch and for walks in the park. We’d ask questions about each other’s pregnancies and check in to see if what we were experiencing was “normal.” I learned so much from these amazing women. One by one, we each gave birth to a beautiful baby boy (yup, all boys!). For over a year now, we’ve been meeting every Thursday at each other’s houses (I call it the Boys’ Club). We’ve gotten to watch each other’s boys grow from infants to toddlers. And we’ve benefited from friendships that are open enough for us to talk about everything we experience as new moms – from all the joys to all the difficulties.
I don’t know what I’d do without these incredible women. They have been my lifeline since Aleksander was born. I think there are at least two reasons we’ve been able to be so open and honest with each other. For one, we were drawn to each other as like-minded women (although we all certainly have our own ways of raising our boys!). But we all made the effort from the beginning to talk about anything and everything. Second, I think it helped that we met during pregnancy. Even before our children were born, we were engaging in pretty personal conversations. So making the transition once we became mothers wasn’t too hard.
But not everyone is so fortunate. It saddens me to think of moms out there who have to one to turn to. The author of the Rookie Moms post suggests some phrases that might help open up the channels of conversation when joining a mothers group. Things like, “This is hard to talk about …” or “I’m embarrassed to say this …”. These openers could be really helpful to talk about the difficult issues we face as new (or even experienced) mothers. Still, while these phrases help open the door, they can still take quite a lot of courage to initiate. Wouldn’t it be nice of the women in a mom’s group asked each other how things were going … and really meant it?
When I was studying in Germany as a grad student, my friends and I used to meet at our favorite pub on Friday nights. Over a beer, we’d ask each other “Wie geht’s dir?” In German, that means “how are you?” or “how’s it going?” For an American this question is taken rather lightly. The conversation goes something like: “How are you?” – “Fine, thanks, how are you?” – “Fine.” – and the two people go their separate ways. In Germany, the question is only asked if one wants a real answer. So even though my friends were also American, we asked the question in the German manner: Wie geht’s dir? It was great. We all had an opportunity to talk about our frustrations and difficulties at the university or in the culture or whatever.
So next time you’re at a mom’s group, try asking one of the other moms, “How are you? Really. How are you?” (You don’t have to do it in German!)
Question: Do you have other moms you can really talk to?