One of the most unexpected things about being a mommy is how lonely you’ll feel.
There’s a beautiful little person in your arms, expecting you to meet his every whim, but at 4:00 in the morning, you’re the only person awake to meet those needs. You’re so sleep deprived that you feel like throwing yourself down and throwing a tantrum, if you could even muster the energy.
It often seems like you’re the only person who can take care of the baby. Especially if you are breastfeeding, you might as well be alone on an island with your baby.
When my three-week-old daughter was diagnosed with RSV and our little family was practically quarantined for the 21 days that she was contagious, I felt so ostracized that I thought I was going to go crazy. I needed to have an adult conversation with someone, and even talking to a stranger at the grocery store would’ve been beneficial.
Maybe you had help when you first gave birth. My extended family descended upon me when I had my first baby, doing everything from cleaning my windows and screens until my house sparkled to bringing me three-course meals when the farmer left for the field.
Even though I had plenty of company during the day, I was still extremely lonely (and hormonal, but we won’t go there). Although my husband tried to help, he wasn’t able to take care of the baby like I could. I chose to breastfeed both of my children, so he couldn’t help with the midnight nursing sessions even if he wanted to.
It felt like no one understood what I was going through as I cried for no reason for the tenth time each day. I was the first of my friends to have a baby, so other than my mom, no one could relate to my diaper rash dilemmas, breastfeeding frustrations, and every other baby issue that new moms face. Also, since everyone else was still living the good life and able to go out to dinner or for drinks after work without a care in the world, I felt even more lonely.
By the time I had my second baby, my sister-in-law and cousin were both pregnant. At least I had friends who could commiserate!
Once we had our babies, we quickly formed a mommy group. We took turns hosting regular “Mommy Mornings,” including coffee, donuts, and an occasional mimosa. We watched each others’ babies, laughed until we cried, and swapped best practices for everything from breastfeeding to which baby wraps were best. We also texted each other in the middle of the night to see who else was awake with a crying baby or whether a temperature of 104 warranted a trip to the emergency room while on vacation. Regardless of how horrible our “bad mommy” story of the day was, we never judged each other. We simply offered advice and encouragement on how to pick up the pieces.
Every new mother needs a mommy group. Without the camaraderie we established in our group, I would’ve gone crazy within the first two weeks of having my second child.
If you’re feeling like you’re living on an isolated island, regardless of how shy or introverted you are, find a group of like-minded moms to help you through it!
Where to Find a Parenting Group
There are many different places to find a parenting group. Try looking online, in your community, or even amongst your friends.
Find a Mommy Group Online
One of the easiest ways to find like-minded parents is to join an online community.
I belong to several online groups, but I use them for specific things, such as joining breastfeeding groups for questions about my baby’s latch and food allergy groups for advice on different allergen-friendly products to try.
I also belong to a local parenting group online, which is great for learning about upcoming mom-to-mom sales and family-friendly events in the area.
Unfortunately, many online parenting groups are lacking when it comes to camaraderie. Some groups offer great tips and advice, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable posting online at 4:00 in the morning to see if anyone else was awake and needed a shoulder to cry on. Also, although most groups claim to offer a safe-haven of sorts for anonymity and questions that won’t be judged, some of the responses tend to be judgmental. Some commenters have a “holier than thou” attitude, which is not helpful at all. Most moms are simply seeking reassurance and encouragement, which can best be found in a non-judgmental setting such as the “Mommy Mornings” that we established.
Try Attending Local Parenting Groups
There are numerous parenting groups online, and while they’re still helpful, nothing beats having a few close, real-life mommies to share stories, both good and bad.
Another way to connect with other moms is by taking your children to playgroups. While the kids play, the parents can socialize. Your local library may offer playgroups. You could also find playgroups at community centers, like your local YMCA. Sometimes daycares in your area may host evening groups (several of the church daycares in my area offer monthly community events in the evening).
Build Your Own Mommy Group
In my experience, playgroups tend to focus more on the needs of the children than the needs of the mommies. The best thing that I did for myself as a new mom was form friendships with other moms.
Reconnect with old friends or family members who have children. Even if you haven’t talked to them in awhile, they probably feel the same loneliness and feelings of isolation that you’re feeling.
By building your own parenting group, you’ll be able to control the atmosphere. While my friends and I bring our kids to our Mommy Mornings and watch them play together, our conversations revolve more around our own concerns. We discuss our parenting successes and failures, but we also talk about our personal developments and emotional well-being. In between changing diapers, we still make time to talk about the things that are important to us as mommies and women in general.
Camaraderie is extremely important to new (and seasoned) mommies. I am so grateful to have my “Mommy Mornings” group. I no longer feel like I’m alone in my mommy struggles. Not only are we able to share our thoughts and concerns in a non-judgmental setting, but we also have a great time together.
Isn’t that what it’s all about?