I’ve been attending a group for pregnant women and new mothers for a few months now. I’ve really wanted to like this group, but after today’s meeting, I think that I finally will give up and stop going. It’s not that I haven’t learned some helpful insights about pregnancy, birth or caring for newborns, because I have. And it was those tidbits of helpful information that have made me go to the group week after week. However, each time I go, I am finding that I just don’t quite fit in with the other mothers.
It’s not the fact that I am at least six or seven years younger than the next youngest mother, nor is it that I clearly am on a much lower rung of the economic ladder than most of them. Despite these differences, we certainly do have many things in common, especially since many of them have the same natural childbirth and parenting views that I have (many of them – though certainly not all – had/are planning unmedicated births, and cloth diaper, baby wear, breastfeed, etc.). From all outside appearances, it seems that these women would provide the support that I so desperately crave as a new mother, especially as I enter motherhood in a new city far from my family and friends. It is not lifestyle that separates me from these women, rather it’s attitude.
You see, despite being what some might call “poor” (or perhaps because of it), my husband and I are incredibly thankful for all we have. While we might not be able to afford clothes from anywhere other than Goodwill or the $2.99 sale rack at a department store (and to be honest, sometimes those small purchases don’t even fit into our monthly budget), we are grateful to have clean, presentable clothing. While we would love to be able to own a house or even move into a larger apartment, we are so thankful that not only do we have a roof over our heads, we have a two bedroom apartment. I know many people who live in a one bedroom apartment with a baby or young child, so in comparison we feel like we are living like royalty. I may have to clip coupons and shop sales to buy groceries, but we’ve never gone hungry. Most of the baby clothing and other items we have came from garage sales, but our baby will want for nothing – in fact, the dresser drawers in the baby’s room are overflowing with used clothing that my mom scoured garage sales to find. And on top of this all, we have our health and family who loves and supports us (albeit from a distance). All our needs are provided for, what could we possibly complain about?
The mothers at the group I attend are always complaining. They only had family stay with them six weeks to help them with the baby. They only had four weeks’ worth of food brought to them. Their mothers-in-law bought the baby ugly clothing or the wrong swing. I understand that they use the meeting as a time to vent their frustrations to other mothers. I know that they are tired and overwhelmed. But I also know that they have so much to be grateful for and it frustrates me to see them take the kindness of others for granted. My mother can only come for one week or so to help with the baby and she is the only relative that will be here to help. We are new here and don’t know many people, so I don’t know that anybody will bring us food or offer to help around the house after the baby is born. But that’s fine with me. If one person brings us a meal, I will be happy and very grateful. I would love more help, but instead of complaining that no one else is flying out, I will be overjoyed that my mother can be here for a week. And you know what, even without the extra help, I know that my husband and I will survive. As long as my little one is here and is healthy, and as long we can take care of his/her basic needs, that’s all that really matters.
I think that the pessimistic attitudes of these women are putting unnecessary negativity in my life and perhaps it’s time to step away from it. I am going to miss aspects of the group, especially the ability to ask questions to someone who is currently going through the same motherhood experiences, but recently I’ve felt that I am losing more than I am gaining by going.