My lost Mother’s Group

My lost Mother’s Group

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.

meandellabeach

Yeppoon. Birthplace of Sarah, the 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???’
EllaFirstMothersGroup

First day of Mothers Group – must choose extremely cute, but highly impractical outfit…

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.
The crew

The crew – that’s Ella, in the bottom left corner.

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,
Sarah xx
So you want to be a Mumpreneur? The top six questions to ask yourself before you take the leap.

So you want to be a Mumpreneur? The top six questions to ask yourself before you take the leap.

Psst. Wanna be a Mumpreneur? Want to live the ultimate lifestyle and work on your own terms? Want to set your own flexible hours so you create your business around your kids and never miss another Book Week parade or Sports Day? Yeah, I know you do. We all do.

And it’s so tempting right? It’s so tempting to tell your crappy, insensitive boss to “Shove it! I’m outta here and I’m going to open my own business!”

Yeah, go sister! Woman power! Mums can do anything!! Whooohooo!

But hold on a sec there honey. Do you really know what you’re getting yourself in for? Do you really understand what it means to be a woman, who also has children, who also happens to run her own business from the kitchen table? (and who may or may not also have to hold down a regular “dayjob” while she gets this Mumpreneur thing off the ground). By the way – I’m not a huge fan of the word “Mumpreneur – but I’m using it here because “woman, who also has children, who also happens to run her own business from the kitchen table” doesn’t quite have the same SEO ranking. (And don’t worry, if you don’t yet know what SEO is, you will soon!)

I’m not saying don’t do it. Don’t become a “Mumpreneur”. I can’t say that, because I’m doing it right now – and you know what – it is great. And I can see amazing things on the road ahead. But right now. About 12 months into my self-employed sojourn. It’s freaking hard. And it’s an awful lot of work. And it’s costing money. And, and, and – so much else.

Mumpreneur in action. Yes, this is what action looks like sometimes.

Mumpreneur in action. Yes, this is what action looks like sometimes.

In these past 12 months I’ve learned a thing or two about running my own business while simultaneously raising two daughters, running a household and, yes, holding down another part time job to ensure we can still pay the mortgage! So I thought I’d do you a favour and list a few very important questions you should ask yourself if you’re thinking of making this big scary, crazy, amazing leap into Mumpreneur-dom.

Here goes.

 

Question 1: Is my significant other on board?

Because if he (or she) isn’t, strap yourself in for some drama. Cue arguments about “getting a real job” and “stuffing around on facebook isn’t going to make any money” and “no, we’re not spending $6K on a business coach”. Starting a business is a crazy tough slog, it’s no surprise so many start up businesses fail. If you’re serious about starting a business it’s going to take time, money and sacrifice. You’re going to need the support of your partner, because you’re going to need them to pick up the slack around the house. You’re going to need them to be okay with the fact that they’re doing the dishes for the sixth night in a row because you’re tapping away on the laptop trying to figure out how to install a WordPress theme to your blog. You’re going to need them to be okay with the fact that you won’t have as much time for them anymore – at least not right now. Get them on board early. Explain your passion. Share your plans and goals. Keep them involved. And hopefully they’ll be supportive.

 

Question 2: Am I prepared to resent my children at times.

Gah! Yes. I did just ask this question. Please stop calling me names.

This is the dirty little secret of Mumpreneur-ship. Because as much as you love your precious little cherubs and think to yourself, “I’m creating this new business for them, for us, to create our dream family life”. I absolutely guarantee that you are going to resent the socks off of them at least once while creating your new business (probably more than once, to be perfectly honest). Perhaps it’ll be the night before your big launch/meeting/presentation – when your teething baby keeps you up all night. Or the day you miss an all-important webinar because you’re cleaning blue paint-coloured poop off the carpet at the exact moment it goes live. (True story, not mine, thankfully!!)

The fact is that young children and start-up businesses don’t mesh nicely. They’re both unpredictable, time consuming, and, yes, frustrating. When you’re starting a business there are going to be days when you simply need to “GET STUFF DONE” no matter what. But guess what, you can’t always rely on your children to be perfect angels on those days. Even if you have childcare and supportive family, you’re still going to have to find time to do work at home – and the kidlets under your feet are going to get in the way. There are going to be days when you want to spend more time on your business than you do on your kids. You will feel like this. And you will feel guilty for feeling like this. Are you prepared for that?

 

Question 3: Am I prepared for the haters, the trolls and the poppy-loppers?

Not everyone is going to think your business is a great idea. Lots of them will try to dissuade you – “Don’t you know how bad the economy is, why on earth would you start a business now?” The thing is, these peeps are generally well meaning, they honestly just want you to be safe and secure, and not broke and homeless. They just have a completely different mindset and view of life than you. So they’re not as bad as the haters, the ones who will try to tear you down any opportunity they can. Why do they do it? Mostly they’re jealous. Maybe they want the kind of life and business you’re working towards. Maybe they just don’t have the guts to take that leap of faith. That makes them feel shit. So they take it out on you. #hatersgonnahate

 

Question 4: Am I prepared to replace most of my friendship group with another one entirely?

The truth is, I now spend way, WAY more time with my new business gals (who I didn’t even know a year ago) than I do the best friends I’ve had for 20 years. Starting your own business can be seriously isolating. Not a lot of people do it, and it’s scary and intense and there’s sooooo much to learn. So we business chicks have to stick together – we seek others out so we can network, learn, brainstorm and absorb business advice by osmosis. Most new Mumpreneurs figure that out pretty quickly and start surrounding themselves with other business minded folk. This isn’t to say that you won’t, or can’t, ever see your friends again, but just beware that friendships are likely to change. See question 1 and 3 for prime examples! Plus, because of all the extra work hours you’re putting in – it can often be quite hard to find time for all your friends – you’ll start prioritising them. Sad but true. The good news is, the ones who are really, truly your friends. They’ll stick around. They’ll stand by you. They’ll understand when you haven’t spoken for them for the past two months. Because that’s what TRUE friends do. (ps, for the record, I still love my old friends even if we don’t get to see each other as often – you know who you are!)

 

Question 5: Am I in it for passion or profit?

Really you need to be in it for both. If you’re not passionate about the business you’re trying to build, you’re simply not going to have the motivation to stick with it.
But you also need to want to make money. Which means you physically need an income stream – ie. you have to have something to sell!

But you also need to believe that you’re worth the money, that you deserve to make money and that your product is valuable enough for people to pay you for it. So really, you need three things: Passion. Profit. And a passion FOR profit.

 

Question 6: Am I ready to be transformed?

This is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT question of them all.

“Am I ready for a complete soul makeover?”

This is what you don’t think about when you’re first starting out. You just think to yourself, “Oh I’ve got a cool idea for a business, let’s start a blog and make some money”. You never think to yourself, “Gee, I feel like undergoing a complete and utter transformation of my personal and professional development, my mind, heart, body and soul, my view on the world, my belief in the concept of abundance and laws of attraction, my self-concept of who I am as a person and what my true calling and purpose in life are.”

No-one ever thinks that.

But that’s what happens. I’ve met so many amazing entrepreneurial women over the past year while I’ve been building my business. And while they come from all different walks of life, run completely different businesses and are at a million different stages of business growth and development – they all have one thing in common. Change. They’ve all undergone somewhat of a transformation. Some to the point where they barely recognise themselves from the person they once were. Some to the point where they’ve realised that they need to leave their husband because they’re not willing to put up with a sub-par relationship anymore. Some to the point where they’ve lost friendships because their old friends either “don’t get them” anymore, or got too shitty that they weren’t available for Friday night drinks every week anymore.

Are you willing to go there? Are you willing to make that much of a change. Are you willing to be utterly and absolutely transformed. Are you prepared to barely recognised the person you’ll be in 12 months time?

Yes?

Then welcome to the club.