Something interesting popped up on my personal Facebook feed today, it was a memory from three years ago of the little announcement I made about us moving from our hometown at the time, Yeppoon, Queensland, back to my old home town of Adelaide.
Apart from the cane toads, flying cockroaches and biannual tropical cyclones. My husband and I loved living in Queensland. The weather was amazing for eight months of the year, our lifestyle was super laid back and we both had stable jobs.
More importantly for me, it was where I became a mother.
So in a sense, Sarah, mother of two, was born in Yeppoon. It was here that my metamorphosis from woman to ‘woman and mother’ occurred.
It was where I met and connected with the amazing group of women from my mother’s group. The friendships I made during that period, in that sleepy little coastal town, were something different to any other friendships I’d experienced until, or since, that time. I still remember our first mother’s group session, run by the gorgeous child health nurse, Tracey. I dressed Ella in her cutest little ruffled outfit. I watched as the new Mums around me fumbled with maternity bras and squirming babies, and I second guessed my decision to put Ella down on a blanket on the floor, ‘everyone else is just holding their baby, am I allowed to put mind on the floor???’
There’s something unique about the friends you make while deep in the trenches of early motherhood.
A shared, but largely unspoken bond. Those women had an enormous influence on my experience of new motherhood. Whether they knew it or not, it was their presence that carried me through the rough days and the sleepless nights and the intense feeling of not knowing what the hell I was doing. Knowing I could turn up to our regular Friday morning catch up at the park and have a sympathetic ear to hear my struggle made all the difference. It got me through every single week. Especially the hard ones.
When my husband and I made the decision to move home to Adelaide after our three years in Queensland it was for one main reason: we wanted our children to have more opportunities to build close relationships with their extended families here in South Australia. But in making this choice with my children’s future relationships front of mind, I failed to realise that the choice I was making would have profound implications on my own relationships.
As adults, making decisions is an enormous part of our lives. As a parent, life-decision making is an even greater emotionally charged experience. Weighing up the pros and cons now requires two pro-con lists. One for us, and one for our children – add a third list if your partner and you have differing needs and opionions. It’s a rare moment we can make a life decision where the pros and cons on all of these respective lists line up perfectly. Rarely will a decision support every single one of our wants, needs and desires – as both a human and a parent.
Which brings me back to our decision to move. Though I was excited to be back home closer to my old friends, most of whom now also had their own children, and with whom I was looking forward to now sharing the experience of motherhood, I knew I would be sad to leave my Poon-town mum friends. But I didn’t realise exactly how much of a gaping hole it would leave in my psyche. Firstly, can I say, it’s been amazing to reconnect with my old friends, I love them to bits and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Secondly, I’ve been immensely fortunate to have made wonderful new friends since moving home – mostly other mothers, and mostly from the circles of small business owners in which I now mingle.
So while I’m now surrounded by amazing women, who also happen to be mothers and are also true friends, it’s just not the same.
They weren’t there in the trenches with me in those early days – we didn’t bond over lattes and stories of cracked nipples and leaking boobs. Our children didn’t grow up side by side. We didn’t use each other as important sounding posts around issues such as sleeping routines, introducing solids or which childcare to choose.
I didn’t realise how much the loss of my mother’s group would impact me.
I haven’t been able to re-create a mother’s group situation here in Adelaide. My old friends are spread all across the city so it’s quite an effort to get to each other, and we all work different days, so it’s a rare occasion I connect with more than one other mother at a time. My new friends are from my business life, so we tend to gather sans children to discuss accounting software and world domination. And so I find myself mothers group-less.
Even now, three years on from my move, when I spy other mothers groups at the park (when I’m there alone with my girls), I become envious. A little pang of longing in my belly for my old mama-crew. Some days I want to gatecrash these strangers’ playdates and ask if I can pretty please be their friend.
Perhaps I’m romanticising it too much.
Maybe our little crew would have quietly dissolved over the years, as the commitments of work schedules, school drop offs and extra-curricular taxiing of children took hold of our worlds. But maybe not.
Maybe this Friday I’d still be wandering down to Appleton Park, oohing and aahing over Steph’s new baby, chatting with Marise about the best online store for ballet shoes and trading Thermomix recipes with Paloma. Maybe Cassie and I would still be running laps of Taranganba, dodging cane toads at dusk. Maybe Di and I would be sipping chilled Sav Blanc on her balcony overlooking the bay while the men-folk tend the barbecue. Surely I’d still be chatting to my neighbour Leanne over the fence, while our girls made faces at each other through gaps in the palings…
Maybe not. And if I moved back to Yeppoon tomorrow, could I just pick it all up again – would it be the same. Or is it true that you can never go home?
Maybe it’s not just the mums group that I miss. But what it represents: a different time, a different community, a different lifestyle. Maybe under all of my city girl, business owner bluster I’m just a small town beach bum who’s happiest while on maternity leave and elbow deep in burping rugs and nappy changes? Maybe I’m actually mourning not just the loss of my mums group, but also the loss of my childbearing days, with hubby now on the list to “get ping and pong sorted out”. Either way, there’s a definite sense of loss whenever I think about my mothers group.
I’m not quite sure what my point is here today. But I guess I just want to honour that little crew of mine. To remind myself and them of what an important part of my life they were. And to remind other new mums everywhere to, as much as possible, enjoy this special time and this unique relationship with these women who have been catapulted into your life based purely on the fact that you all gave birth around the same time.
And if you do have a wonderful mothers group, let me know just one thing…
Can I join it too?
Until next time,