I hate Mommy and Baby Groups – Part 1

I realize this rant is totally out of context, but I belong to a few women-with-baby forums and when I read through some of the threads I start to get a dull ache in my bum area.  For some reason this morning I recalled how much I loathed mommy and baby groups.

There is so much pressure to join one with your new little mushroom.  As soon as you get out of hospital and are able to take more than five steps, you start figuring out which group you are going to join.  You call the group leader and it all sounds so wonderful .  They are generally really really happy bubbly people.  Usually at this point I start to get uneasy – I am deeply suspicious of happy shiny people – I like my people a little bruised, a little dirty, a lot pessimistic.

You get your little bundle ready – dressed in their best clothes – you have already starting to buy into this under current of competition that exists at these things.  You don’t even realize you are doing it, but there you go.  You are so proud of your little Joshua/Sarah and can’t wait to get to the group, because your little one is going to be the best kid there – you know this.

In the car with your safety seat, getting the pram, the nappy bag and your bag in, buckled up, sort of figuring out where to go – because usually it is in a suburb off a side street that you really don’t know.  In your area, but you are not so sure, so odds are you take a few wrong turns, drive at 20km/hour to try to figure out street signs and basically get yourself lost.

You finally get there and it is usually a house in suburbia that has been revamped by a mommy with one or more likely two kids, who is using her love of kids to work from home, so there is a garage converted and lots of TreeHouse themed cushions and curtains.

You get all your kit unloaded. By now you are a little flustered as you are late, and you have had to park about 500 metres away as all the more eager moms got there before you.  So you drag all your stuff all the way there.

By the time you get there and go through the alternate entrance, which usually is a narrow gate that your huge gi-normous pram does not quite fit in through the door, so there you are fighting the good fight, and starting to sweat a little, because odds you have over dressed, because you have not been out of the house by yourself for 6 weeks.  The weather has changed since you were last outdoors, and the only clothes that fit you are from the wrong season.

You sort of fall inside the sliding door.  To be greeted by a sea of usually attractive moms wearing their Sunday best and all their Joshuas and Sarahs are on little mats or cushions and everyone is so damn happy.  You, of course, have worked up a bit of a sweat, your Joshua or Sarah is a little cranky as you have transferred baby from safety seat, to pram, and now have to get baby out of pram as pram does not fit into room, so you are trying to juggle baby, your bag, the nappy bag, snug and safe and what is left of your composure.

The far-too-friendly leader of this little ensemble, comes over to greet you and refers to you usually as Mommy <well, it is tricky referring to everyone by name, so Mommy sort of makes it easy, and because you are a new Mommy, it kind of makes you smile that you have a new important title>.  You find a space and try to settle down.

At some point you are trying to assess the mood of the room, and then you start realizing that these moms are generally over achievers – like really over achievers.  When you are trying to find 10 minutes to read or sleep, while you are forcing junior to take a nap, more for your benefit than for theirs, these moms are busy reading Baby’s First Words or doing some sort of Baby Gym with their babies.  Damn, you are clearly behind with your baby’s development as you look down and your little imp is quietly gurgling and dribbling on his chin.

The leader takes her seat in the front centre, with her “baby doll” and everyone smiles and the excitement is tangible.  Everyone beings introducing them selves.  You start practicing a bit in your mind how you are going to introduce yourself and show off your offspring as you really only have about 4 seconds for introductions and really want to get bang for your buck here.

At the same time you are trying to remember names and baby names and ages …. and the reality is that you can barely remember your own.  So your turn comes around and all you can muster up is “Hi I’m Celeste, and this is er…. Connor….. and he is ……hmmm….. his 4 months old.”  And the spot light moves away from you.

Then the real show begins  …….

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20 Comments

  1. Charli

     /  April 19, 2016

    How did you force yor kid to take the ten minute nap? 😉

    Reply
  2. Elizabeth

     /  November 22, 2012

    Thank you for spelling out what is wrong with the New Millenium Parenting Picture. It’s really bad, pathetic and robs children of their natural talents and strengths when parents force children to do what everyone else is doing. These kids beat themselves up because they feel they are not good enough in their Mother’s eyes later on as they get older, parents do not concentrate on their strengths and their natural talents – they put them in Hockey, Soccer and gymnastics because EVERYONE ELSE is doing it. I put my son in martial arts and now he’s on a bowling league. He has excelled at school because he is allowed to join sports that interest HIM and not because Joshua or Ben is doing the same thing. Children, when allowed to chart their own path and develop their OWN interests excel in school because they know they are supported in their choices by their parents and not PUSHED to do something that they really don’t want to do. I don’t know a single suburban mother who would allow their son to take ballet lessons.

    Reply
  3. This is awesome. love real people! thanks for the blog 🙂 Tasha

    Reply
  4. Charlene

     /  December 20, 2011

    Hi reluctantmom
    This article made me laugh, its so true even though I have not yet been to a mom group yet.
    I have been deciding to go since most of my friends are no longer in SA, so to put it in a nut shell, I am friendless too. So I thought this would be the opportunity to make friends by going to mom groups. But you know, it feels like a real effort that I have to put in, in order to go. Got to start making conversations about nonsence really and then planning a play date,. And what happens when you do met these moms, you might not get along at all and wish for the time to fly so you can go home. I am happy at most times, but the over happy clappy people really work on my nerves. And its so true, you love your child but don’t wish to brag on about your child and hear others brag about theres. But of course I do have my moments of bragging I must admit. I know I am a good mom with a beautiful lg of 6 months and stuff what the next person thinks. And you know it would be nice to have a mom group where it is normal down to earth people that can talk about anything, including all the after birth body healing stuff which never gets mentioned. Its like these moms are super moms that never had so much weight gain that they cannot get rid of , haemoroids in the ass , etc, you get the point. I feel like its only me and also at times I feel so helpless when my lg is sick and crying all the time.

    But hey I love my daughter

    This site is great!

    Reply
  5. Dawn

     /  January 22, 2011

    Ok, i just realized that i commented on a year-old post. Forgive me, lol. Am still trying to remember that this is 2011, not 2010! Having kids has fried my brain.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  January 24, 2011

      It is no problem, and was appreciated. That post was still one of my favourite posts, so I am glad it managed to age well – albeit only a year!

      Reply
  6. Dawn

     /  January 22, 2011

    Great post. I wholeheartedly agree with you. I, too, hated those mom/ baby groups..i tried them, but like you, i felt worse after i left! And you are so right, when you find out that you are not a stepford mom, it is unnerving..even though you don’t want to be, you still wonder what is wrong with you, etc. Nice to find a blog like this 🙂

    Reply
  7. My kids are older now… but I never liked mom and baby groups… I always felt like I was never enough because I was not the earth mother… I always felt judged that I am not doing a ‘good job’ because I didn’t do what everyone else is doing.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  February 12, 2010

      Exactly how I felt – but the problem was that I applied social pressure on myself as I thought I had to go to these things because that was what “good moms” did.

      In the end when I went it would make me feel less good about myself and doubt my abilities all the more.

      They really are on “things that make my bum go tight and itchy” list.

      Reply
  8. Tania

     /  January 21, 2010

    I have never liked the formal mommy get-to-gethers – never liked it enough to even try it. My oldest always entertained himself and still does, and lucky for my youngest, who loves human contact/interaction, she has her brother. What also helps is that we live in a freestanding townhouse complex and there are many decent children and parents, my son has even had sleep over dates with some of the kids within the complex which makes Mum and Dad’s life so much easier as far as running around goes. Good Luck Nicky, I’m sure you’ll find something just right for you and your son. Helen, I like your style, refreshing for me, cool and relaxed and you don’t give a sh*t what others think.

    Reply
  9. Helen

     /  January 21, 2010

    Im in Pretoria so no no for me. What I used to do is go to a place where there were other kids on a Saturday and let him play. There must be places where they all congregate on a Saturday, as long as you can see him you can maybe sit and relax. Most of the time he was so in awe of the others he would play for ages.

    Reply
  10. Nicky

     /  January 21, 2010

    I always want to join these groups, cos my little boy is very lonely over weekends/holidays…my entire family lives in another town, and none of his dads friends or family have little kids…or any kids for that matter. I’ve been struggling to form my own little group, just to meet on maybe on Saturday mornings or whatever for an hour or two, so he can socialise a bit. But I dont want any of these formalised things, just relaxed, noncompetitive playing.
    The competition thing really gets my goat- I have one friend who is always talking about how brilliant and wonderful and sweet her kid is, and it makes me want to compete. Plus makes me feel bad when I visit, and my little terrorist does something not so good… anyway, do you ladies know of such a group, or anyone with kids who would like to join? It’ll be a nice opportunity for the moms to meet other people as well… I’m based in Cape Town, northern suburbs.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  January 21, 2010

      Hi Nicky

      I think playdates are great ideas and much better than the formalised mommy and baby groups. I am sure many people benefit from the, but it really does not work for me. If you want to maybe form a relaxed play group – the best way to do it it run something on Gumtree.co.za – alternatively the forum on pampers.co.za is very active and you can post something there.

      Most playgroups are set up during the week if moms aren’t working – weekend play groups might be a bit trickier. How old is your little boy?

      Reply
      • Nicky

         /  January 21, 2010

        Hi
        My son is 2.5. I’ve tried the gumtree thing, and after all the responses, I only met up with one woman(we’r actually still very good friends now, but she’s moved and it’s too far out) I also dont have an option but to do something on Saturdays, cos I work all week, and obviously people want to spend time with families/friends weekends. So you see my dilema….

        Reply
      • Nicky

         /  January 21, 2010

        I’ve tried gumtree once before- ended up only meeting with one mom( we’r actually very good friends now, but she’s moved so it’s a bit far out) I can only do saturdays, and i know most people want their weekends free….so you see thats the problem.

        Reply
  11. Helen

     /  January 19, 2010

    Hi,
    This is so true, and usually its such an anti climax. I have left those things feelings lonely, angry, sad, fed up and basically left out – what wrong with me!!!! For me its that I dont really want my kid to be like the others. I just want him to do his own thing – whatever that may be. Then I think ‘shit am I setting him up’ dont want him to be like me – another emotional mess!!! I dont know about you but Ive decided I just dont fit in at these kinds of things. How do I tell these women my sordid life before kids? My broken relationship with the dad? Its usually when I popped my double D leaking breasts out that people usually turned the other way. Thing is, if I didnt breast feed the greedy one I would burst and so would he!!! I would get my boobs out on all occasions, usually forgetting which one fed last, meant I was walking sideways when I left.

    I remember on particular incident. My child didnt crawl he bum shuffled. He went on his buns everywhere, he was quite skilled and did walk till he was 18 months (neither did I, so I wasnt concerned). One ‘day mother’ not qualified, not registered once told me at a social gathering that my little boy was going to have problems with Maths. OK, i may be loud mouthed, rude, bad language etc etc, but i have 2 degrees to my name and didnt have to work too hard for them. So I know Im not stupid and decided to take her on there and them. I think I told her that if i wasnt so tired I was launch myself across the table and give her a big smack. I was so sick and tired of the the uneducated, nonsensical comments and kind of exploded that day.

    I wasnt invited back, felt quite sad about that. But I kind of realised that this group gathering thing wasnt me. Im me first and then a mum, what makes me Helen is really difficult for others to understand. But I cant talk in a high pitched ‘thats cute’ voice and pretend to like the smell of their babies bums.

    Im not really into other peoples kids, I have enough trouble with my immature inner child and my son who keeps asking me why his willy is hard and what happens to us when we die. For goodness sake, Id rather go to spur, have a gin and tonic and let him play in the kiddies section.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  January 20, 2010

      You sound like a very interesting piece of work – your note was incredible and has inspired me – I never thought to order gin and tonic at the Spur!!! What a revelation this day has been!

      I really take comfort, as profoundedly morbid as it is that I am not alone in this world. I think the worst part about when you start realising that you are not a Stepford Mom is that you feel so rejected as you do not fit into the entire thing. Part of you wants to, because it is all new and you are still so enthusiastic by the entire child raising thing. And then to have your self confidence stripped one painful layer at a time because you just do not fit in, is really soul destroying. Especially at a time when you are so emotionally vulnerable.

      I just want moms to be real about what they are going through and honest with new or potential moms. So new and potential moms realise that if they do not fit the mould, if their baby is not super baby, if they cannot get it together, that it is okay, they are not the only one. Most of us can’t actually!!

      Reply
      • Helen

         /  January 20, 2010

        Awesome idea for new mums, what a breath of fresh air I could have had if I had known all of this before the birth. Also for gods sake (sorry) why did people keep that episeotomy (spl)pain away from me – it was TERRIBLE.

        How can we get this site to new mums. Ive been chatting on babynet for a while but they seem to spend most of their time supporting irrelevent stuff – sorry if I offend anyone!!! But really girls, come on!!!!!!!! So I am busy trying to work out how to delete my name etc.

        By the way they always ask if you want a double when you order a gin in spur, love that.
        Have you tasted the ‘Fat Bastard’ red wine, its so fine it doesnt seem to give hang overs.

        Reply
  1. The best feeling in the world is when …. « The Reluctant Mom's Blog

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