Finding your mama-Community
When I gave birth to my first daughter Abigail, I felt love like I never even knew I could experience. I felt like I had never even known what love was until I held her in my arms for the first time.
Those early newborn days were a beautiful mix of extreme magical love (and peri-bottles). My body filled me with amazement as I learned to breastfeed (between those moments of sore nipples and tears of frustration). There were those magical, intimate, moments while rocking and feeding my baby while the world slept (and the extreme exhaustion that accompanies that). I would just stare at her in amazement all day (while being too stressed to put her down to shower). Although I was never alone, I felt lonely and longed for adult conversation… it’s a time in your life like no other!
I had my children younger than most of my friends and didn’t have any buddies on mat leave with me (until a few months later when my bestie gave birth also).
I remember walking my dogs and baby through my neighbourhood and strategically picking routes so that I could bump into people and say hi to them – I was super lonely!
Luckily, my attachment to exercising brought me to Dovercourt Community Centre (I happened to work there at the time) which was the land of mom and baby classes. As I began to partake and meet other mommas going through the same stage of life everything got SO MUCH BETTER.
I found this wonderful little community of amazing Mamas.
Everyone parented a little differently which meant we could all learn things from each other. Everyone was sleep deprived and we all understood the complete exhaustion without having to explain it. We supported each other and parented together – it takes a village and we were a wonderful little village!
When I came back to work a few months later I happily took on all of the pre/postnatal/mommy classes that Dovercourt had to offer. It thrilled me to make space for moms to connect in a loving judgment-free zone, and as I saw friendships develop between the participants I realized how important it was to create places where moms can do something for themselves while connecting with other moms! (Spoiler – this became my calling and is how my business started!) After bouncing around and squeezing into other people’s gyms for years,
I have finally realized my dream of being the place for moms to do something for themselves, and a place to find their Mama Community! Since I have lived and taught in Westboro for 20 years, I get to see generations of my classes that are still friends and it just fills me right up!!
If you are a Mama on mat leave and you haven’t found your community, here are a few things you can do:
- Find the other moms, ideally doing things you enjoy. Once you’ve found them, just keep showing up at similar times and chatting, it won’t take long before you connect with some new friends.
- Don’t be shy! When you’ve found someone you’re interested in befriending, invite them to grab a coffee and hit the park after class, or suggest getting a few moms out for a kid-free cocktail later in the evening.
- Stay judgement free – there is nothing we care about more than how we all parent. DON’T judge other moms for doing things differently than you, remembering that we are all doing our best with what we’ve got is key. I like to keep my ear open for potential drama and squash it before it starts, for example – if a breastfeeding debate comes up I’ll say something like “I just think it’s great to feed babies!” as a quick reminder to all that it really doesn’t matter
- Adopt the “it takes a village” philosophy. Rely on each other, meet up often, and group parent the kiddos. Watch for the member of your group who us struggling and depleted and offer support in the way of snacks, errand running etc. And also accept the help when you need it!
If you are still looking for your community, take a few classes at my gym! We have the nicest group of people and the classes are super fun!
***Please note that primary caregivers come in varying genders, I use the term Mama to encapsulate the primary caregiver. We welcome all types of parents in our classes and cherish our queer community, so if you don’t identify as a Mama please know that you are very much wanted here!