To many moms, the term ‘mommy group’ brings images of judgemental mommies sitting around trying to prove who is the busiest and worthiest mommy. While these groups do exist, our group of moms was the exact opposite. It’s important to find other mommies that are supportive and honest in bringing up baby, otherwise you will just feel like crap about yourself and your parenting – and in all reality, you’re probably hard enough on yourself as it is.
I remember chatting with a few moms one day that weren’t part of the Momtourage when A was just a couple months old, and was surprised to find out that my baby was the ONLY one who hadn’t been sleeping through the night since the fifth day home from the hospital. Really? I’m fairly certain that I am not the only mom out there struggling to get a baby to sleep. The judgey-mommies looked at me like I was some kind of failure, and being able to say “MY baby has almost always slept through the night in their crib” was some kind of badge of honour for them. Not a good environment for a new mom.
Alternatively, the Momtourage: At the zoo one day, I got upset and stressed when Andrew shoved something in his mouth that he wasn’t supposed to. In my delirious, fatigued state, I guess I somehow thought I had ruined my baby for life. One of the other moms leaned over, and instead of making me feel like a failure for making a mistake, she nonchalantly told me that one of her kids had licked bird poo one day…and she was just fine. *HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF* Lesson to be learned – make sure you surround yourself with open and supportive moms that make you feel good about yourself.
Besides outings to friends’ houses, one of the first outings for A and I was to the Metro Toronto Zoo, on the advice of Ash and Jen. We ended up buying a season’s pass so we could come again an again throughout the year. The zoo is heaven for a mom with a colicky baby. I got out and got exercise and fresh air (while not being bored to death by walking around my concrete subdivision), while little A slept soundly in the constantly moving stroller.
It was upsetting to me at first to have (I’ll be completely honest here) the most difficult baby. While the rest of the babes would be sleeping soundly or taking in all the sights, if A was awake, he was usually crying. I’m not talking a little whimper of a cry, I’m talking full-on shrieking and bawling. It took awhile for me to realize (although MANY MANY MANY people had said it to me) that all babies are different – and that’s okay. Judge-y mommies often have a tendency to compare babies, but the reality is that all babies really do move along on their own schedule, and they will all get there eventually. One of the babies in our group has been keeping his poor momma busy since about 8 months when he started crawling, and quickly moved to running and walking by ten months. On the other hand, we have a few babies in the group that are older than ten months and are still completely stationary. Just try to remember how different babies are, and try to resist the temptation to compare your baby to others around you (good or bad)!
Now that I have gone completely off topic, back to the zoo…to my surprise, the zoo is very baby-friendly. They have a family station with change tables and chairs (with curtains) to nurse. There is an abundance of shady picnic areas, where we would roll out our pre-packed lunches and let the babies play on blankets on the grass.
For us, the zoo visits didn’t stop once the cold weather came – we kept going in the fall and winter. Just bundle those babies up and hit the trails!