It all started when I walked into the baby clinic six weeks after having my baby boy. The visiting nurse encouraged me to go to Mother’s Group. ‘You’ll meet women just like you there,’ she’d said. So off I went.
That first day we introduced ourselves, asked questions and laughed at the jokes being made. Just before I left one of the mums asked if I would like to join their Facebook group to keep in touch with plans, as they liked to go on walks together. I agreed, simply because I felt relieved that I wasn’t the only one that hadn’t washed her hair in a week.
From then on it was Mother’s Group on Tuesdays, a pub lunch on Wednesdays and walks on Thursdays and playgroup on Fridays.
It seemed a bit excessive but I felt I had friends. All my old friends had jobs, or school kids and had forgotten what it was like to live with a newborn. These new ladies became my little support group and I felt like I was a part of something. But it wasn’t long until I noticed it had started to turn sour.
One day while devouring my pub schnitzel I overheard a few girls commenting on how terrible it was that one of the mums in the group was in denial about having postnatal depression. Shocked, I interrupted saying that if that was true we should ‘be there for her rather than talk behind her back’. I got a few odd stares that day. Judgement appeared to be more of a priority than actually helping a fellow mum in need. It was starting to feel very much like a mean girls mother’s group to me.
A few months on I heard the same group of girls snickering about another mum and how passionate she was about naturopathy and homeopathic medicine. They actually described her as ridiculous. ‘How can she just sit there and leave her baby in pain? It’s disgusting!’ one mum said. I had a growing bad feeling about the group. There seemed to be no room for a difference of opinion. It was there way, or the highway and I had an inkling it might be time I hit the road.
The less time I spent with the group, the bitchier they sounded. It wasn’t long before I felt like a lonely teenager who had been left out by the more popular girls. I felt sad to realise I was no longer ‘in’ but almost relieved to be removed from their snide judgement and mean girl attitudes.
It took a few weeks for me to build the courage to tell them I wasn’t returning. I didn’t give them a reason, because at the end of the day I don’t need to give them one. We’re adults and we choose the way we spend our time and who we spend it with.
Sometimes, I feel like maybe I should have stuck it out because there were a handful of nice ladies in the group who I could have befriended. But then I think back to the mums I heard them talk about so judgementally and remember it’s not worth it. I want my baby to grow up with people around him who are happy, encouraging and supportive, unfortunately this was not my mother’s group!
It’s okay to leave behind toxic people, there are plenty of other like-minded people out there, it just takes that first step to go out and find them. It might even be as simple as saying hi to a fellow mum at the local park.
If you’ve found yourself without a mother’s group for any reason here’s a few ways to meet other mums:
- Join local activities such a library story time and baby bounce. Week-to-week familiar faces can soon become friends.
- Join an online support group in your area. Facebook has many, search your local area and you’re sure to find one!
- Contact your local council for information on community groups
- Contact your local baby health centre for information on mother’s groups
- Playgroup is a great and affordable way to meet other mums. Look for the Playgroup website for your state and find a local group to join
- Seek out other organisations that offer groups for new mums including Breastfeeding Association, local churches and community centres
- Build your courage, walk over to someone and say hi! You know, that mum pushing the swing next to you might be as keen to have a new friend as you are.