The Hood of Mothers

Flapper pie told me to join a mommy group. I resisted. It’s hard to explain why. I guess I’ve always secretly liked to consider myself slightly out of the mainstream, slightly left or right of center. When I was a kid being different was never a good thing and I was always different: a little chubbier than the other girls in dance class, a little less white in school. Perhaps I got used to it and it became who I am. Not fitting in exactly was how I fit.

So the idea of a mommy group seemed odd- go somewhere where we are all the same? Furthermore I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I hadn’t spent a good portion of my life in many unconscious ways belittling the life of mommy-hood. Not explicitly, but looking back there was some part of me that ranked motherhood as somehow less important, less meaningful than well, something else. I couldn’t tell you why that was, maybe because the world expected me, expected all of us women to bear children, to be mothers, and the weight of that expectation made the notion seem so un-extraordinary.

New living room decor

New living room decor

Well, I’ve been eating a lot of humble pie of late. With a dollop of chagrin. Because if there is one thing I’ve discovered the last month or two is how powerful mothers are and how generous they can be towards one another. Sure there are mommy politics and mommy wars and I’m sure that all lies ahead for me, but the last few months women with whom I would normally have nothing in common have taken me in because I am now a bit like them: I am a mother, a struggling first time one. Women who I only knew in passing, you know, those remote face book ‘friends’, have made me burst out in mad sleep deprived laughter as they tell me not to lose heart or my sanity. Mothers of toddlers and infants have invited me over, fed me, held my kid while I peed, texted with me in the middle of the night to keep my spirits up while the baby wails. They don’t need you to finish your sentences, they understand when you are late or cancel an appointment. They tell you stories about boobs and poops. They don’t mind if your kid screams in their backseat. They tell me I am not the only one who has to wear a brace from rocking my baby. They want to give you a hug and tell you it will get better.

Mommy injury and baby monitor.

Mommy injury and baby monitor.

Women I don’t know that well, acquaintances who by nature of our shared fate have become friends, and of course good friends, have opened up their trench coats to reveal that this isn’t easy. And I am tremendously grateful to all of them for being so honest, so kind, so encouraging, so understanding. To let me see what’s behind the smiling photos: that my child and my struggles with him and that complicated love that comes with him is just like theirs for their own.

It’s always been a struggle to belong to anything. But among these candid strong enduring women, I do.



3 thoughts on “The Hood of Mothers

  1. Fab post, I actually found that too re: female Facebookers from my past lives who were now mothers cheering me on, offering solace and humour as I attempted to get myself through the bleary eyed sleep deprived stage when my (now toddler) twin boys first came home. I have mixed feelings about mothers groups, I’ve experienced the awful mummy wars, however I’ve just found it’s a matter of finding the right group for you and bubs : ) the right support is certainly invaluable from those who’ve been there before. Thanks for posting, I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels like you do in this post! x

  2. I love this! I’m not a mom, but I relate to your resistance to joining a “mom’s group”. I think because I somehow find that label reductive. Like you, I’ve judged motherhood in the past. I don’t think we’re alone. We’ve talked about it before, but I do think feminism in its rush to get women out of the home belittled traditional “women’s work”. Even now, in the media, motherhood is popular, but talked about in gushing tones usually reserved for children. It’s all “bumps”, outfits and cupcakes, as though it didn’t take much more than the right clothing and good desserts to raise thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate human beings. Not that there’s anything wrong with putting energy into finding great clothes for your kids and baking a killer cupcake.

    I also know that the company of women can be so important. So, I’m glad you’ve found some fierce women to travel this road with you.

  3. Honestly, I find myself somehow envious of you for having found a group of like-minded women with whom you can just share, simply, your struggles. As a child free woman just entering her 40’s, I am kind of lonely for friends who genuinely understand my own struggles. Friends with kids think I’m being trivial when I talk about my challenges at work or the fact that I have no hobbies. I get it, their lives are consumed by parenting, and I admire and am intimidated by their capacity to give ALL. THE.TIME. But I wish there was a little womens’ group for those of us who are struggling with the judgment that comes with being 40 and not-a-mother. Any takers?

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