Why I’m No Longer In A Mom’s Group

In previous posts I mentioned that I had joined a mom’s group and it was good for me, with my anxiety disorder and my fear of new people and places. It was good for Peyton’s social skills and getting her out and about. I really had high hopes for this working out. I slowly began to really come to the conclusion that in the end, I’m not cut out to be “that mom”.

What do I mean by “that mom”?

The mom who judges every little parenting choice of someone else. The mom who knows exactly the right way to parent YOUR child. Somehow, the manual to your kid popped out of her vagina with her kid. Apparently, you missed the memo, you are doing it all wrong. It’s right here in Chapter Six of “Raising Punky 101”. It’s the mom who thinks that if you aren’t parenting your kid the way they do, you are wrong, your kid will be a sociopath. The mom who is so very nice to your face, despite the obvious differences in opinion, but in a public internet forum, bashes your choices in a passive-aggressive way.

I’m not good at being that mom. And, apparently, I’m even worse at dealing with that mom.

You know, it’s not even that these comments are being personally directed at me. A lot of times, it’s just a general statement about one parenting choice or another. The problem is, it’s hurtful and I want so badly to say something, but instead, I hold my tongue. I’m really not the type to bite my tongue for very long. I’m really not very good at it.

It’s not even that these comments were directly solely at me and in some cases at me at all.

When you go out with a group of moms to relax and have a good time, I notice that all the ladies have a glass or two of wine or something related (unless breastfeeding of course). When one mom thinks it’s ok to call another one a “lush”, joking or not, it hurts people’s feelings and embarrasses people. Why say things like that? Because women are the best as making a ‘joke’ out of something they truly feel to soften the blow and not make themselves look bad.

Articles about car seats really bother the shit out of me. But, I don’t really say anything anymore. Not since I was basically told I was a bad mother (in not so many words) because we followed our pediatrician’s recommendations for Punky and turned her front facing when she turned 12 months old. She’s bigger for her age and frankly, she screamed in the car the entire time we were in there while she was rear-facing. I was happy to turn her ’round.

When I explained this as my experience and my opinion (not once mentioning anything about anyone who didn’t do this) I was slapped with a comment about how I should get a different pediatrician. And another mother, an expert in car seat safety, posted a video about what will happen to my daughter in an accident. I’m sure it’s all well meaning, but at the end of the day, hurtful and just another way to make a new mother feel crappy about herself.

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Let’s not take into consideration that I have an anxiety disorder. My eagerness to turn Punky around had more to do with my anxiety than anything else. When she was rear-facing, I couldn’t see her. I’m forgetful. Seriously. I couldn’t stop imagining that I would be one of those moms who left her in the car on a hot day. Even now, front-facing, I imagine my reaction to finding her dead in the back seat because I forgot about her back there for one reason or another. It’s part of my anxiety disorder, I picture these things the entire time we are in the car with Punky in the back seat.

During posts of seemingly support seeking mothers, especially those with small children who won’t sleep, the claws came out all the time. So, a mother posts about how she’s really having a hard time with the lack of sleep and looking for suggestions. The first time I posted that we used the cry it out method and how we did it and why and how it worked for us. The response I got from the mother was this: “With all due respect, crying it out is NOT an option in our home.” Well, excuse me for giving you a suggestion.

The comments continued with things like, “It’s unnatural for a mother to feel fine allowing her child to cry and not do anything.” “I can’t imagine leaving my child in her room alone and scared.”

These comments weren’t specifically directed at me, but I felt the sting. Wow. I’m a shitty mom because I let Punky cry herself to sleep one night. Let’s not take into consideration that both K and I were exhausted and really ready to shake this baby at the time. But excuse me, ladies, you don’t get to worry about your own well-being. Again, we took recommendations from our pediatrician to put her in her own room and let her cry it out. Not only for her health and need to get more sleep, but our sanity.

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Guess what, no one thought to take into consideration that I was sitting outside her door the entire time she was crying, tears streaming down my own face. K had to practically sit on me, because we knew it was best for Punky and best for our relationship and wellbeing. It was the hardest night of my life. Yet, Punky is the best sleeper I have ever met, mothers are astonished that she goes to sleep at 8:30PM and doesn’t wake up until at least 9:30 or 10AM. I get surprised faces when I tell people that she loves taking naps and we rarely have a fight when it is time as she will clearly say “Nap” and head to her room, when she is tired and usually right around the same predictable time.

But, screw me. I shouldn’t have allowed her to cry it out for one time and apparently, I’m unnatural and not a great mother for allowing her to be independant.

Don’t get me started on vaccinations. I will be real honest here. Do I think it’s weird that there are people who don’t vaccinate their kids? Honestly. I do. But, I have never said anything to these mothers. They are making their own choices and they are doing what they feel is right for their religious beliefs or their family or whatever.

So, why is it that I hear one of my good friends was told she was uneducated and ignorant for vaccinating her kid? Seriously? Someone said that. See that’s the case of the comments not being directed at me, but I have a few choice words I could say in response to that hurtful and highly offensive comment. But, I bite my tongue, instead of defend my friend’s choice, defend my choice. Because if she’s uneducated and ignorant for vaccinating her kid, then shit, so am I. Awesome, at this point, I’m really doing a great parenting job according to these moms.

Other things I have felt while in this group:

  • If you are on the computer and not constantly talking to your kid, you are bad mother and doing your kid a disservice. (Let’s forget that my second job is online, that I am actually making money for my family, while on this computer.)

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  • If you aren’t still breastfeeding your child after a year old, you are not supermom. (Let’s not mention that Punky couldn’t latch and I hated pumping because it caused me mastitis and my breasts were constantly on fire or in pain)
  • If you let your child watch TV, you will rot their brain and toddlers just don’t benefit at all by watching anything that is currently on TV. (Never mind the fact that Punky has learned how to speak from conversations with Dora and learned to jump, clap, and wave from the GiggleBellies).2013-06-29 05.09.28
  • You don’t feed your kid organic food? Bad Mom! (Except, jesus, organic food is expensive and we are living paycheck to paycheck. But, then, you use cloth diapers so you don’t have to worry about not having diapers for your kid. Another strike against me, whoops.) Of course, I suppose I could just get on the cloth diaper bandwagon, except we live in an apartment and don’t have a washer and dryer and can’t afford to wash our clothes as often as I would like, let alone shitty diapers. But, then again, I’m sure these moms just think we shouldn’t have a kid until we are financially stable enough to do this very important things that cost more money.

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  • One meetup I proposed to take the kids to the city hall steps to play in the fountains. I posted a picture of Punky, MY DAUGHTER, playing in the fountains. One of the comments I got was “I don’t know if that’s safe for my child.” For real? So, I suggested an activity that I have done with my own child, but it’s not safe for other people’s children. Way to basically say that I’m putting my kid in a dangerous situation and how dare I put yours in the same boat.

The last straw was about the debate on stay at home moms and working moms. All the instances above, I have pretty much not gotten involved, not since the crying it out and car seat instance. Because if I get involved, I’m likely to get banned and I really did like getting to know some of these ladies and we are still friends on Facebook. So, I kept my mouth shut and didn’t say anything.

Then a post about how being a stay at home mom was so much harder than a working mother. Working mothers had it easy because they didn’t have to change diapers and they didn’t have to deal with the constant tantrums and nap fighting and the exhaustion.

Excuse me?

I know how hard it is to be a stay at home mom, I live with one. I also know how hard it is to be a working mother, I am one! Each one of us has a different kind of challenge and hard work in different areas, but the challenges weigh the same. So, while I figured this mom was just trying to get some support for her own challenges, but she took the opportunity to shoot down working mothers in the process.

It brings me to tears every freaking day when I lay her down for her afternoon nap, knowing that I won’t see her again until morning when she wakes up. It is hard to come home for lunch, because she’s awake and when I leave, she thinks she’s coming too. When I shut the door and she can’t come, I can hear her disappointment plain as day in her cry through the door.

To give K a break, she gets to sleep in and I get up early with Punky and take her places before work. Am I exhausted? You bet your ass I am. But, I am helping my partner, the stay at home mom, and I am finding the only time I can get with my kid while I put food in her belly by working and making a life for her.

Whether she did it intentionally or not, I’m not sure. I don’t think she did. However, when someone pointed it out that her comments might be hurtful to working mothers, she got defensive and basically said she didn’t know why her comments could be construed as unfair.

That’s what broke my spirit. If you say things unintentionally that hurt someone’s feelings. How about we just acknowledge that perhaps you hadn’t thought about how things would be perceived.

I promptly left the group. Simply because if I said what I wanted to say on the forum, I’d make ladies cry. So, instead I post it here.

With my anxiety disorder, I take medication damnit, to regulate my mood and my anxiety, this kind of environment doesn’t sit well with me and it makes it very hard for me to function. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I’m certain I suffered from a small case of postpartum after having Punky and I already felt like a shitty mom, I don’t need anyone to help me think that about myself.

None of us need to have that in our lives. We are all mothers, doing the best we can for our kids.

And frankly, children learn from their parents, mothers in particular. Children teach their friends their habits. I’m not interested in bringing Punky into that kind of learning.

So, while I think that the mom’s group was beneficial for making a few great friends, I am not cut out to hold my tongue anymore about unfeeling comments made about other people’s choices and debates and Mommy Wars. I’m just not built to withstand the drama.

Why I Joined A Mom’s Group With Social Anxiety

First of all, thanks to all the wonderful readers who had something to comment about on my last post. I appreciate all the kind words and encouragement. I definitely appreciate the stories you shared as well, it made me realize that in this vast web of internet, there are people out there who have been through what I have or at least can relate.

So, I joined a mom’s group on Facebook in our local community with the main motivation of meeting new mom friends. I don’t really have many friends in general, in fact, I have ONE friend that I work with and we hang out outside of work. She’s Punky’s godmother and she and her husband, Punky’s godfather are freaking awesome.

But they don’t have kids. They don’t really understand that it’s acceptable for a mom to talk about poop all day. They don’t get that it’s super cute when my kid says “No” to the side table drawer she’s not supposed to touch, because that’s the word she associates with the side table. She’s heard the word too much in relation to that darn thing! I’m quite sure she thinks that’s what you call a side table a “NO!”

I love them bunches and they love Punky. It’s just not the same when you don’t have ‘mom’ friends. This is why I sought out a mom’s group. Actually, I didn’t really seek it out, it sort of fell in my lap. I met a girl at Gymboree, who I swear just has to be my twin in so many ways – personality wise. She gave me a card for this group and invited me to join.

I wasn’t going to. I actually backed out of the first meetup with the moms. I made up some excuse for not being able to go. Then I kicked myself for it. I know I have to socialize with other people – I have to be able to show Punky how to socialize. I have to teach her that it’s ok to meet new people. I definitely wouldn’t wish the anxiety of social situations on anyone, especially my daughter.

So, I spent some time on the Facebook group, participating in discussions and learning about these ladies. I learned that we all parent differently, but in the end, I like to think that’s a great little friendship we have all developed. We don’t have to parent the same way, we don’t have to like the same things, we don’t have to believe in the same things. We can still support each other as moms and we can still have fun together and let our kids have fun together.

The rest of the post is pretty picture intense, since we have been on a lot of little play dates. My favorite so far was the concert at the park. Punky got right up there with the big kids and I was so out of breath chasing that kid around we had to leave early! She just danced her little heart out, she had free reign to toddle all over the place.

We go to the park every Tuesday, unless it rains of course, and she gets to play with a little girl that I will nickname Cheeky for the sake of this blog. She’s quite the little ham. We had a new mom and her sons join us last week and it looks like we are scheduled to have another mom join us at the park next week. I’m slowly getting out of my funk and I am making myself get ou there for Punky and for myself!

Waiting for the show to start.

Waiting for the show to start.

So we got to the park about 30 minutes early. That gave her time to eat dinner on the make-shift picnic blanket and hang out with Mommy before the show. I really expected her to just sit there and listen to the music.

Boy, was I wrong!

Rockin' Rob is talking with a puppet?! What?!

Rockin’ Rob is talking with a puppet?! What?!

That Rockin’ Rob show is awesome. My kid is the one shorter than most of the others and she’s headed towards the puppet in the blue and white tank and shorts!

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I was able to stop her from assaulting and probably stealing the puppet. But, at one point she made a beeline straight for the drums. I was absolutely sure she would embarrass me in front of the entire town sitting on the grass behind me! I was already chasing her squirrely butt all over the place!

I tried to give her space to do what she wanted, it’s a concert for kids after all and she is a kid. I also didn’t want to lose her in the crowd, she’s shorter than I thought! The last thing I needed was to try and explain to K just why I didn’t come home with the toddler I left with!

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Awkward attempt at social interaction.

So, K stays at home with Punky, so we are fortunate to have a stay-at-home Mama. It’s not easy by any means, and maybe someday I will get into the reasons why and how we are able to do that. But, that’s for another post. The reason I bring it up, is because Punky doesn’t go to daycare and isn’t really exposed to other kids her age. Well, other kids period.

I have begun to notice, that’s she’s not sure how to act around them. This last picture is her attempt to greet the other child. She walked right up to this little girl, whom we don’t know and have never met and proceeded to smack her a few times. It was more like “petting” and she was giggling, so I knew she wasn’t doing it maliciously, this was her way of saying Hello.

The little girl was not amused.

Needless to say, I removed Punky from the girl’s personal bubble and we went on dancing away.

In the end, I realized that I am going to be ok. I am going to teach my daughter better habits than I have. I can only hope that anxiety is not genetic, and in some ways she is probably predisposed to have some sort of mental illness – it runs in both sides of her genes. However, it’s all how you nurture a child as well and whether or not you help flip that switch.

So far, Punky and I are bonding over these play dates and these experiences, so in the end, it’s a great thing and I am so glad that I decided to do it. The more I get out, the more I meet new people, the less awkward I feel and the less anxious I am.

This weekend is a pool party for one of Punky’s cousins who is turning 1 and the baby shower we planned for a friend had to be postponed as she is currently in the hospital being induced due to some high blood pressure complications. So, as soon as we have the fantastic mustache and bowtie baby shower, I will be sure to post pictures of the awesomeness I helped to create!

Anyway, have a good weekend everyone! I have a few bloggers I follow and a couple ladies I know in person –  who are in the TTC cycles, so sending you lots of positive vibes and sticky notions. I am sending well wishes to those pregnant mommies who are getting ready to pop and those who have just recently started your sleepless nights, good luck to you as well! Babies and pregnancy all around me and I am loving every bit of it!