How To Find 'You' Again & Reconnect With Others
Yes, we love our children. But sometimes, even for a short time, we don’t want to be ‘mom’. Sometimes, all we want to do is be ourselves, feel like ourselves again, and have a conversation about things that matter, or don’t, in the world outside our homes, outside of our lives with our babies.
Those first few months, or those first couple of years if you’re a stay-at-home mom, can be extremely daunting. One day, you’re going about your business, going to work, socialising, enjoying hobbies, when all of a sudden, you’re ‘mom’. You’re elated because you have a beautiful baby, but for many women, there’s also that yearning for more. There are no break-time chats, no lunchtime catch-ups.
The lack of conversation, of connecting with the outside world, can really affect a mom’s self-esteem and leave her feeling lacking and wanting, and then guilty for having those feelings.
Sinead, whose children are now 10, 8 and 5, says she clearly remembers feeling at a loss following the birth of her first child. “Each day seemed very long with endless tasks of cleaning bottles, feeding and washing clothes. I felt I couldn’t leave the house much so that my daughter would have her naps when she was due them. I missed being at work where I would have met up with others for a coffee break and a chat every morning. But when I had my second child, I knew what to expect and knew I had to make time for myself. I relaxed a little more about nap times and went out with the babies when I felt I needed to go.”
Having just moved back to Ireland after a number of years abroad, Sinead didn’t have a job to return to, and so, began job-seeking when her girl was three months old. Apart from the financial implications of not having a job, she craved some normality in her life, a reason to get out of her tracksuit and enjoy some adult company again.
At the time, she was unaware of any moms groups nearby but feels she would have really benefited from them. “I wish I had. None of my friends had children when I had my first child, so I felt quite alienated the first few months. Having a support group of people in the same boat as I would really have helped, looking back.”
Orla, mom to a two-year-old girl, says that her moms’ groups were a lifeline for her from the very beginning. “When I had Ciara, I knew no other moms at the time. I literally had no idea what I was doing, so I craved support from other women who were in a similar position to me. I joined the local moms’ group set up by the HSE. We’d meet in a hotel lobby once a week, and we’d all chat, the babies would cry, and we didn’t feel pressured. We breastfed in a very supportive environment, and were reassured that our problems and fears were felt by everyone.”
“I’m so happy I joined these groups when I did. It was daunting at first, and sometimes all I wanted to do was close the curtains and hang around the house all day, but it was the best thing I could have done. I’ve made friends that I see every week, who I would now consider to be better friends than those I’ve had for years.”
Helen, mum to two boys aged 3 and one, found the pressure of a lack of adult company at its height during her maternity leave. “There were some long days when I thought I would go demented with a crying baby and a hyper toddler at home. Daddy’s ear definitely got chewed off when he came back!”
A self-confessed “group-aholic”, Helen joined two mother and toddler groups, in addition to a breastfeeding group. “The breastfeeding group was great for support, especially with my first baby, when I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing. The toddler groups were great for tiring out an energetic toddler so that he’d hopefully have a nap when he got home.
“I would definitely recommend joining some moms’ groups, even just to bounce some questions off. Most non-mom friends wouldn’t be very interested in worries like the colour of baby’s poo, whether your baby was getting enough sleep if your baby’s non-stop crying was due to teething.”
In retrospect, any advice for new moms? “Check out what groups are in your local area. They won’t all be everyone’s cup of tea, but you’ll usually meet somebody who’s at least in a similar situation to you and can either offer advice or at least just a sympathetic ear.”
Here are some ideas to get you connected with like-minded moms:
1. Set up a Facebook group
Whether it’s just staying in touch with other moms for support or to organise trips out or coffee mornings locally, there will always be lots of other moms who feel exactly as you do. So connect!
2. Seek out local groups
Search online, or contact your local HSE to learn about any moms’ groups you might be interested in.
3. Let people know you’re interested
Ask friends and family if they know of any new moms who’d like an excuse to get out of the house.
4. Get out more
By simply walking around your local area, stopping off at the playground, or taking trips to your local cafe, you can meet lots of moms who are also looking for adult contact. Be open, start conversations. It could be the start of something lovely!
Do you struggle with keeping a sense of yourself as a mom? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.