You know i’ve tossed up writing about this experience for weeks but I know this will resonate with some other struggling new mum and hopefully make her feel less alone – so please be patient with me – this is raw and real.
You hear about the stories from friends, bloggers and those fun fact filled parenting magazines – mothers groups are either amazing and full of life long friends that you’ll have until you’re old and grey OR its bitchy, competitive and very ‘keeping up with the joneses’. I was naturally aiming for the first one!
I will start off by saying that I have made some beautiful naturally occurring friendships that pretty much self formed and will no doubt be around for the long haul. These girls are the shiz – they support you know matter what, listen to you when you need to talk about sleep (or lack thereof for the thousandth time), guide you when you are pretty much ready for divorce and walk with you when you are actually feeling motivated (even at the drop of a hat). These girls know all about my intimate story of birth, post birth recovery and rode through it every single second of every single day. I love them like nothing else.
Then there are the girls that were thrust into a group – you know those post natal educative classes? Yep off we trundled for 6 weeks, at the worst possible time of day (hello witching hour), mostly to connect with other new mums and eat a biscuit, but also because our local health clinic offered classes to help us on this new journey into parenthood. We connected and ate said biscuit then at the end were basically welcomed to or mother’s group & suggested we meet each week. So we did. We had all gone through the same thing, were all new mums, had all stopped our careers and most of us wives battling out this new playground they call motherhood. We bonded over birth stories, sleep deprivation, our new found curves, morning walks and lots of coffee. Then all of a sudden the group shrunk and kept shrinking until it essentially fizzled.
We met each week at a regular time for almost 6 months – towards the 4 or so month mark people starting coming less. As we know life gets in the way. Personally I planned my week around it as it was my one thing to look forward to every single week. Towards the end almost no-one came, people even stopped commenting that they weren’t coming and so I stopped going too. I felt disappointed, let down, confused and all sorts of hurt and rejection. I felt confused as I craved the connection, craved the catch ups, craved being able to share with other mums, craved seeing my little boy interact with his little mates – craved it so much I made space for it each week. WHY? I don’t actually really know. Partly as I was one of the people who sort of organized it by taking charge, reminding people each week, making wet weather plans, many cafe reservations and checking in with many of the mums regularly – after all of this, which I naturally felt pulled to do, I felt I had put time and energy into bringing these women together and was saddened I hadn’t done a good enough job. Like it was my fault, i’d let everyone down and I had failed the group.
Now obviously we weren’t all going to be a bunch of besties and having a larger group it was natural that some smaller fractions naturally occur. But deep down I wanted these connections and wanted to be a part of something bigger.
I was fearful that I was not liked or had done something wrong, but was not entirely sure why I actually cared. Why was I taking it personally? Why did it matter? I just knew it got on my nerves, caused upset and angst and lots of questions.
The next thing I knew some of the girls, who were unable to commit to anything regular were now having their own catch ups. Don’t get me wrong – the couple of girls I have sincerely connected with we catch up and do our own thing, in the beginning we always used to post if we were walking, coffeeing etc but we stopped because no-one ever came. We felt this was the right thing to do. The same courtesy wasn’t returned. Each time I saw they had caught up I felt annoyed, hurt, rejected and angry. One time I even suggested i’d love to be invited next time – nada. I was angry at myself – did I do something wrong? Why don’t they like me? Why don’t they invite everyone?
After some tears and a few long chats with my mean girl I reminded myself that I don’t actually want to be part of something like that anyway. The question is though … WHY did I care? WHY did it bother me? WHAT did it bring up for me?
Simple – FEAR. Fear of not being liked, fear of having no friends, fear of no connection and fear of missing out for both me and my little boy.
I have now journaled through this fear and moved past it. Which is why I can write about it openly, honestly and lovingly. I removed some of these people from my social media accounts so the fear doesn’t keep manifesting itself. I am focused on the real soulful connections that I have truly and genuinely made. Mostly I am SO FUCKING GRATEFUL for the amazing woman who ARE in my life and WANT to be in my life. I love you for being you and for loving me just as I am.
So what do mothers groups and soulful connections have in common – it IS possible. You just have to look right in front of you and not behind.
Tell me – have you experienced a fear of rejection? What have you done to move past it?