BRING BACK COFFEE MORNINGS
by Brian Burgess, Forefront Families LLC
Parenting can be a very lonely task. When our kids were babies and toddlers we lived in a brand new subdivision that was type-cast as ‘Nappy Valley’. Now don’t let your mind get all confused here. We are talking about growing up in New Zealand where cloth diapers are called napkins or ‘nappies’ amongst the young mom (mum) brigade. The subdivision was of a slightly cheaper type house that attracted first home buyers most of whom happened to be newly married couples.
Coffee groups or casual ‘dropping in’ would illicit statements like, “You’ll never believe what my kid just did!” Someone would wonder how other mothers dealt with the problems they too were facing. Some mothers thought they were the only ones facing particular events, sicknesses, breastfeeding problems and so on. Their concerns were soon quashed by a number of the other parents declaring that they had faced identical problems. Problems solved…well, many times anyway.
So, what has changed now then? Well, to use some common vernacular, things ain’t what they used to be. Our social culture has changed immensely in the last forty years. What we now experience is a growing isolation in our cities and neighborhoods. Young mothers are not relying on the cosy conversations to reassure one another because many of them are back to work weeks after giving birth. Those simple Mayberry days just don’t seem to to exist any more.
Another thing is that everyone seems to be just ‘so busy’! We don’t have to be that busy, but we make choices and not always good ones. Neighbor rarely knows neighbor. Coffee groups or parent clubs are still arranged in some countries, but it seems that in the USA our independence and busyness leads to isolation and loneliness.
Today there is too much pressure placed on young mothers. Without the old methods of chatting with friends, young mothers often feel afraid to use their gut instinct. They rely more on what media dictates as being ‘a good mother’ making them feel they are doing an inadequate job. For an example, they look at weight-to-age data and find that their baby is less than average weight, so they panic and think that they are not feeding their baby correctly and go beating up on themselves. What is not realized at the time is that they have been looking at averages. There has to be as many babies above average as there are below average so the panic is unjustified, but the mother has no other moms to talk to about it. Some mothers get almost neurotic about the fact that they may not be parenting correctly.
My suggestion is to slow down your life and decide what things really matter. Strip some things from your life that are not making a positive difference. Concentrate on the things you are doing right. When your kids are well-behaved, polite and a joy to you and others, you can certainly congratulate yourselves on doing a great job. Maybe you could form a mothers’ coffee group through your elementary (primary) school’s PTO or at your church. You will probably find that other mothers would really be interested. There are few ‘starters’ in our society, but there are many who would take advantage of such a group if someone else would do the hard grind. Groups don’t have to be large. Three or four mothers or even up to six would be suitable so you can meet in someone’s home. Hospitality could be shared and should not be elaborate. Nobody needs to compete for being the best hostess or having the tidiest home. Just be yourself and forget about image. This will bring the most happiness in this situation. Perhaps you could meet at school or church nursery through the week, that would be even more beneficial and prevent tiresome work getting a home prepared and childproof.
I’m sure you would see things in greater perspective if you could break your isolationism and share openly with a group of mothers who have been through, or are now experiencing similar issues with their young children.
Bless you mothers. You are awesome and you need to give yourself a lot more credit for your great work!
If you have any comments or questions on this subject, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out our website at www.forefrontfamilies.org and our blogsite at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com