Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Mommy Musing - Top 6 Reasons I Didn't Go To A Mommy Group This Week

Ah, the mommy group. The opportunity to get out of the house to commiserate and celebrate with other mothers. They are a much needed respite from the every day isolation of maternity leave where women can bond, and at the same time they are cesspools full of baby germs and rivalry. I attend my share of events in my neighbourhood to meet people and get out of the house and I've found it a very rewarding experience, but it's not something I can do too much of. So, here are the top 6 reasons I didn't go to a mommy group this week. (Or, last week, or whichever week I chose to abstain.)

6. I Couldn't Get It Together

This is not a newsflash: some days are a lot harder than others. So, if we didn't sleep all night because of a growth spurt or teething or if I've just finished cleaning up the third poo-splosion of the day, I'm not going to get out of the house. Some days the kitchen gets cleaned during nap time, the groceries get picked up on the way home from an extra long play date, and dinner is a new recipe I found in a magazine. The majority of my days look nothing like that, however. Most days, success means the baby is playing quietly on her play mat (finally!) while I get to pee for the first time in 5 hours. I try to shower every day but it doesn't always happen. The last thing on my mind when we're in between meltdowns is which drop-ins are happening that afternoon. Getting out of the house, meeting new people, exposing my baby to new faces, and learning new skills or songs are all important to me, but sometimes I just cannot get it together enough to add a mommy group to the mix.

5. I Couldn't Get There.
We are a zero car family. Neither my husband nor I have our driver's licences, but even if we did, we would not be able to afford multiple cars. (Or even one car, right now, probably.) So, when mommy events happen across the city or somewhere with limited transit service, we simply can't go. I've met some amazingly nice mothers who offer to drive baby and me to different meet-ups, but that isn't always an ideal solution. If my daughter gets especially fussy, or I have something to do right after the event, I am not free to leave on my own. This pressure flows onto the mom kind enough to drive me, as she tries to feel out whether I am ready to go or not when she's done socializing. When it comes to going anywhere with an infant, you need the freedom to be able to pack up and leave at a moment's notice, because, honestly: sometimes baby just isn't feelin' it.

4. I Couldn't Afford It.

Putting aside for a moment all those amazing mommy resources in the city that cost an arm and a leg to access (baby yoga, stroller-cise, art classes, etc) and the programs that require membership fees just to get in the same room with other moms - being in a mommy group can get really expensive. A warm weather walk ends at a fancy cafĂ© for a pricey coffee drink and baked goods. Lunch dates are hosted at up-scale sushi places or fancy restaurants instead of tuna sandwiches at someone's house. I know mom's are looking to get out of the house, (and also wanting to take advantage of the perks of weekday afternoons at different businesses) but my husband and I cannot afford for me to go gallivanting about town, spending upwards of $50 a day just to be social. Man, do I ever wish I could reap some of the benefits of these classes and clubs, though.

3. I Couldn't Make the Timing Work.

What is it with the people who plan programming for mothers and babies? The library story time is from 10:00-11:30 and my closest Ontario Early Years 0-6 month baby group is 1:00-3:00 (otherwise known as nap times). With all of the recommendations of getting your baby on a sleep schedule and "consistency is key" messaging, why do the programmes that are tailor made for babies fall right in the sweet spot of sleeping times? I understand that there will be issues with any time slot, as mommies everywhere rush to get a baby dressed, changed, and fed before going out (to minimize the chances of a meltdown), but I feel like certain times are more universally selected for nap times than others. As my baby gets older, she is less likely to sleep just anywhere, so I have to be strategic in which events I attend to lessen the impact on her precious sleep times. (Because, I really NEED those sleep times!)

2. I Couldn't Compete.

Personal sleep doulas. Lactation support technicians. Nannies. Swim lessons directly following pre-ballet class? I can't compete with other mothers (I don't think I got directions to the starting line) and some days I just can't listen to women talk about how their babies are doing everything sooner and better and with way more professional support than my own baby is. There are definitely resources I would take advantage of if I had more money, and I feel that exact same surge of pride when my baby does something a bit sooner than the experts say to expect it, but I really resent the attitude that if you aren't doing this or haven't purchased that, then you're not doing it right. A lot of my discomfort stems from my own insecurity, I know. I read into things and see gauntlets being thrown down where none were, but there is definitely a spirit of competition ripe in mommy groups and I do not feel like playing that game.

And, the number one reason I didn't make it to a mommy group this week...

1. I Just Didn't Feel Like It.

Just as a zebra can't change his stripes, a homebody, introvert will not change into a social butterfly when a baby comes. I like to stay at home. I like to go on long walks just me and baby pointing out the new and different sights. I like reading a book while my baby takes a much needed nap. Some days I am taken aback by how isolated and lonely I feel at home alone with a 4 month old but most days, I just don't feel like getting out there and making small talk. This isn't because I dislike people (I have met some wonderful mothers and babies so far) and it isn't laziness. I just feel stress and pressure when I'm surrounded by people and I prefer to be alone a lot of the time. I do know how important it is to expose my daughter to other babies and new experiences, so I make sure to get out there at least once a week. But, more often than not, you'll find us walking around our neighbourhood singing songs or cuddling at home with a book, and that suits us just fine.

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