Why,when mothers with young children are excitedly advised by all who see them, to get out of the house, to get some much needed time for themselves, to join a mum and baby group or 1 o’clock club, do their tired eyes glaze over, their shoulders hunch further and heads bow?
Why do they insist that they are not the “toddler group type” and why do we not believe them?
I remember braving the local drop in baby group with my first child being not long ago a child my self at 23, with my hell raising years interrupted by motherhood I searched for what I thought were the things you did with a baby.
I recall sitting in those sterile rooms, full of plastic toys and chalky paints, surrounded by women that seemed to show little interest in me or my son, although I was sure I could feel their sideways glances and judgemental sighs.
They all seemed far more experienced and confident than I and from the bits that I picked from their conversations, I made up my own mind on which they were.
After time and with help of the persistence of youth and loneliness the conversations did eventually start up but I always came away feeling lonelier than ever.
The experiences and changes that a woman goes through from pregnancy to birth to motherhood are continuous and immense. They can manifest themselves very obviously in some mothers but more often they are unconscious. Running very deep, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
She will make many important choices from when to conceive, who with, to where and how to give birth.
Decisions are being made constantly and although she seems to be using the same process she used when making them for her own life, these decisions now have a deeper and grander level of importance with farther reaching consequences. There are so many factors that are taken in to every decision that are invisible to the passer by and especially to other mothers whose eyes are clouded with the enormity of their own similar choices.
So when we see a mother with a very young baby who isn’t breast feeding, or we hear the words ‘elected caesarean’, its easy to jump to conclusions based on our experience of these issues and its only when we take time to hear her full story that we can understand everything that went into those decisions and with this understanding we can empathise and with empathy we can release the compassion and love.
So in the toddler group it is easy for mothers to feel isolated as the other mothers are so wrapped up in their own decisions and fears that they rarely take time to listen deeply to each other with an open mind and heart.
So next time you’re sitting at a drop in-group, doctors surgery or bus stop and you have the time and your neighbour starts telling you her story try and listen.