I was inspired to write this piece after attending my local library’s playgroup for the first time and being overwhelmed with a number of emotions. As new mothers filed in week after week, I saw myself in their tired faces and flustered actions. This inspired me to write the message below, a message that maybe if we had gotten the first time around, would have put us a bit more at ease…
To The New Mom at the Play Group:
Hi. I see you over there with your tired eyes and your athletic outfit that we both know sees the inside of your house more often than it does a gym. I don’t say that to judge, but rather as a “Same here, girl!” salute to you. I am also rocking the same leggings for the third day in a row because, although they told us there would be no time to shower or brush our teeth some days, I don’t recall the disclaimer about not even having the energy to at least put on a new (clean) outfit.
But back to you: kudos to you for coming today. I’m sure that it required you to muster strength that you have been depleted of thanks to the feed-bathe-soothe-observe routine that has become your new normal, as it does with most new mothers. But you’re here! You made it! And as silly as you will feel singing, dancing, and saying silly rhymes for the next hour, I hope that it gives you the sense of relief you’ve been craving since you left home. I get it. Sometimes, home sucks. It’s too quiet, too claustrophobic, too much of the same and you just wanted to get out for some fresh air and some interaction with other adult human beings. Well, welcome! Welcome to a place where you will be surrounded by people who understand motherhood in a way that only mothers can. You may even run into some dads and grandparents!
A heads up: some of the other mothers will be quiet and come across as antisocial. Sometimes they are still trying to adjust to this unique scene as well, and other times, that’s just who they are. Try not to feel offended if you get the classic, “How old are they?” question and the conversation dies out from there. Other mothers will be very social and will want to know any and everything about you and your baby. Share what you feel comfortable with. Know that being social may be hard for her too, but that the socialization she gets here is probably making her day go by a little easier.
Do what works for you in this group. After all, it was designed to teach your baby but what they don’t tell you is that moms learn a lot here too. We learn how to educate our children from the earliest stages; songs and activities to promote development; and about other events in the community that might be worthwhile to attend. But we also discover things that you can’t find in a textbook or pamphlet. Little by little, we work to re-enter the world outside of our homes, reminding ourselves that before we were mothers we were women with ideas, skills, and gifts. Since becoming mothers, we are still those women, though sometimes we have to work a little harder to find her and bring her back to life.
You will change here (if you decide to come back). One day you will look up and realize that you aren’t the woman you were when you first attended and that your child has changed quite a bit too. You will have on a new outfit and your hair will be brushed. You will have gotten a full night’s sleep and actually have some energy to chase your child around the room as they laugh a full laugh that overwhelms your heart with love every time you hear it. Some of these strangers will become your closest confidants, while some will remain acquaintances. I cannot say for certain what this journey will be like for you but I do know that this one hour can bring a whole lot of needed joy and respite in the chaos that can become our lives.
Newcomer let me reassure you: none of us have all of our shit together, despite what we look like on the outside. We are doing the best we can, just like you. So sit down, take a deep breath, and don’t worry that everyone can see the bit of spit up you forgot to wipe off of your tank top. We get it. I hope you’ll stay awhile.