Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Different Attitude

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.


  1. You sound so much wiser than your years. You already know the meaning of the quote, "Gratitude turns what we have into enough".
    You are smart to realize that it's so key to surround yourself with people who bring light, and when you leave them you feel better not worse. Not that I'm above venting on occassion...think that's healthy...but a attitude of negativity can be so easy to "catch" and once it gets a hold, hard to get free of.
    I know I'm probably old enough to be your mom...and I must say I'm very impressed with what a faith filled young wife you are. :)

  2. Sounds like you made a good decision to stop going. That's a bummer though... wish we lived in the same area ;-)

  3. Uggg I feel your pain. I was there sixteen years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. And I was a very young newlywed who was very poor twenty two years ago so I empathize with both of your situations. You are thinking right. It's hard to make the right choices, but you're doing it. You are not gonna believe how much better you'll feel away from that group. I was lucky enough to be a part of a nice little support group with my first baby, but after we moved we lost touch. With my second pregnancy, I joined another little group and was so disgusted by the women flaunting their latest status symbol and complaining and bragging, I had to quit. My husband and I worked hard over these years and live the suburban dream (or are in suburban hell whichever way you want to look at it) and are very happy just being very involved with our church. I have found the support I was looking for all those years right in my church. Keep on keepin' on - love your baby, love your husband, love your home (no matter where it is), love God, and love yourself. :)

  4. I really can't stand that kind of negativity. I like to surround myself with happy and upbeat people. I have a couple of close friends but they aren't moms. I'm the first to get married and have babies and I don't have a mom's group either.

    I think we would really get along IRL - both Catholic and "poor" but trying to be grateful.

    We're running into some problems with credit cards though. Do you try to stay away from those. We finally paid the big one off and I think we're going to take them out of our wallets.

    My husband gets so discouraged sometimes. He's kind of obsessed with being a good provider and he puts a lot of pressure on himself. Does that happen to your husband?

    It's so cool that you met on Catholic Match.

    For Love of Cupcakes

  5. Way to be! It is so frustrating to be around people who only bring you down. Especially when they actually have it pretty good! I know I am guilty of ingratitude at times...a lot of times, and I am trying to work on it, so thank you for being a great inspiration!

  6. Hi Mandi,
    I found your blog through an NFP blog and have been reading with interest... I'm in the UK, my husband and I are also young marrieds, we have an 18 month-old son and are expecting our second baby next year. Just wanted to say I've been really encouraged reading your testimony about nfp and your thoughts on pregnancy and marriage. Here in the UK nfp is so much less heard of/accepted/taught and we find it a struggle defending our beliefs.

    While expecting my son we attended a group like the one you mention and although we did make some very good friends from it and I still see them now, I can totally relate- they are all older than me, have a lot more money and some very different attitudes to family/marriage. Just remember you can be an amazing witness to them just by the way you live your life (not saying you should stick with the group though if it's bringing you down.)

    Anyway, just be encouraged, you're doing a fabulous job and this little life is clearly ordained by God. Will be reading for your birth announcement :)

  7. Good for you. It is frustrating when it seems like on the surface you share the same ideals, but then when you get down to the values they're so different. It amazes me how people who can feel the same way about semi-important things (like natural childbirth and cloth diapers) could simultaneously be so opposite on the most important things (faith and family).

    We were in a similar situation when we had Miriam - my mom only came for a week and we had only a handful of meals brought. It was great, though. And now since we've moved my strategy in finding friends has been to intentionally look for (a) Catholics and (b) women who respect their husbands. If I hear a woman speak highly of her husband, I immediately want to be her friend. That is the kind of attitude I want rubbing off on me!


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