This week I returned home after five days spent in a beautiful seaside resort with my baby girl. We were accompanied by four other mothers and babies, girls that my daughter has been friends with since she was born almost 11 months ago. After five days with five babies in one apartment I can fully appreciate the saying, “The joys of motherhood are never fully experienced until the children are in bed.”
The women I travelled with were part of my Mother’s Group and I don’t know where I would be today without them. Their friendship has meant everything to me this year. They have been friends, sisters, aunts to my daughter, counsellors, event planners, inspirers, supporters, mentors, coaches and most important of all, they have made me feel ‘normal’ no matter what motherhood threw at me. These women have been advocates for me and my daughter when she was dreadfully ill. They have encouraged us, cared for us, laughed with us and even cried with us. How fortunate we have been.
I was really lucky to find a group of like-minded, professional and caring women who became mothers around the same time as me. Some for the first time and some for the second. I still remember how close I was to not going along to the first meeting of the new mothers… I wasn’t even aware such a thing existed until the midwife conducting the first week check on my baby asked which one I was attending. She was shocked that I hadn’t already been and ordered me to attend the following Monday. Thank goodness she did! If I hadn’t spent three hours getting myself and my brand new baby ready to go to be there by 10am (thanks to my wonderful husband driving me) I never would have met these amazing women.
I still sometimes imagine how things might have been if I hadn’t gone…. how different my life and my daughter’s life would be. My daughter has truly benefited from making friends with these babies from the earliest weeks of her life. She has grown and changed with these babies. She has learned from them and they have helped her become a social, adaptable and contented baby. They can truly say they are life-long friends. How lucky is she!
These women have shared the highs and lows with me. We’ve celebrated first smiles, first teeth, first crawls and first full nights of sleep together! We’ve talked about things so personal I never would have imagined and laughed until we cried at the joys of motherhood. We’ve sat in play pens together surrounded by babies and toys singing nursery rhymes to a captivated audience. We’ve sat in Jacuzzis drinking champagne together too. We’ve celebrated birthdays (each others and the babies) and embraced the opportunity to learn about being mothers together. We’ve succeeded and we’ve sometimes failed to be the mothers we’ve always dreamed of being but thankfully we’ve done it with the love and support of fellow travellers on the journey.
So our week away was the culmination of a year of Maternity Leave for many of the mothers. A celebration of all that we have shared, learned and enjoyed together. The week was crazy! Five babies, five mums and one apartment (albeit a penthouse overlooking the ocean with an eight seater Jacuzzi on the deck)! Packing the cars was like an advanced level game of Tetris and preparing a convoy of three cars to drive with five babies all ready at the same time was like a mission in black ops. But boy did we have fun! We laughed and played and sang and played some more…
I have learned so much about being a mother from these dear friends and I am so excited to see who all our babies will grow to be. They are all such special little human beings and I see so much potential in them all… there’s already the gymnast, the ballerina, the charmer, the little lady, the singer, the gourmet, the mover and the shaker! As the time comes for the birthday parties to begin and our darlings turn one, I am sure we have a whole lot more fun and laughter to look forward to. I wonder what the toddler years will bring?
If you or anyone you know is expecting a baby please remind them of the value of a Mother’s Group. Beyond Blue reports that 10% of Australian women will experience Post Natal Depression and joining a group such as a Mother’s Group can be a wonderful support. http://www.beyondblue.org.au/index.aspx?link_id=94 I was fortunate not to be affected but I know others who were and it can get really tough. Beyond Blue offers wonderful support and informative materials.
Generally you are informed of your local Mother’s Group by the Child Health Centres in your local area. Ask in the hospital before you are discharged or ring your Local Council. Here is a link to the information that Woollahra Council provides just to give you an idea. http://www.woollahra.nsw.gov.au/community/services/childrens_and_families/early_childhood_centres
Now it’s time to unpack the bags and do all the washing…oh the joys of travelling with a baby!