Moms’ Stories: Making Mammy Friends
Sometimes I think about the way society has changed in the past century and I can't help thinking about how much we have lost. That was never more obvious to me than when I had my son.
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ – well these days, it’s not always obvious where you can find that village! I think we strive for that sense of community in online forums and on discussion boards. Certainly, I know I became a regular on a discussion board for mothers, and I often posted there in the middle of the night from my phone while my Little Man was having one of his mammoth night-time feeds. But although I got a lot of support through that discussion board, I felt the need for something more real.
Luckily, I was breastfeeding and was able to avail of my local breastfeeding support group. First and foremost for me, this group was a place to meet other mothers – very important if you live in a commuter town like I do. Being a blow-in here, I didn’t know that many people other than my immediate neighbours, and they’re at work all day. So I decided early on in my maternity leave that, unless I was going to spend my entire time stuck in the house, I’d have to make the effort to get out and make friends. And the breastfeeding support group was the ideal place for that.
I met lots of women at a similar stage in their lives to me, going through similar things. We had plenty in common, and regularly went for coffee after the support group finished. I always thought it was unfortunate that it was limited to breastfeeding mothers though, because we got a lot more than just feeding support there.
In the early weeks after my Little Man was born, I was struggling with breastfeeding, and wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to continue or not. One thing that really upset me at this time was that if I quit, I would no longer have a group I could go to. Where would I meet other mothers? Where would I get support on all the other questions I had? I often asked the Public Health Nurses why the group was exclusively a breastfeeding support group – don’t all new mothers in the area need support? But from what they said, the HSE funding for the group is specifically for breastfeeding, hence the exclusivity.
Towards the end of my maternity leave, I got chatting to a couple of girls online who lived near me, but who didn’t feel comfortable coming to the breastfeeding support group coffee because they were formula feeding. At that stage, I was formula feeding myself and still attending the group, but I understood their hesitation. So I decided it was time for a new Mammies and Babies group, one that wasn’t linked to the breastfeeding support group. I contacted as many of the girls as I had details for, and invited others through the discussion forum, and soon after we had our first coffee. As the months went on, we moved on from coffee, and had some cocktail nights and even an Xtreme day out instead!
Then when it was time for me to return to work, I was afraid of losing contact with my new Mammy friends. So I set up a private Facebook group to allow all of us to keep in contact. Gradually, we’ve added new members to that group, and there are currently 24 of us connected to it. We use it to ask advice, arrange coffees, or plan our next big outing!
There are some great organisations around the country, like Cuidiu, that may have ready-made groups in your area that you can attend. But if you want to get to know other mothers and you find that there isn’t a local group to suit, don’t be afraid to reach out and set one up yourself. I guarantee that there will be other mothers who feel the same way. Before long you may be organising your own Xtreme Days Out!
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