Mother’s Connection saved my life. You might think that sounds ridiculous, or I’m just exaggerating. It’s just a playgroup for kids after all. But for me, it became so much more.
I’ve struggled with depression most of my adult life. Medication helps keep me grounded. I knew the risks I would be taking when my husband and I decided to conceive. Being able to be a Mother was the only thing I really wanted out of life. I had come to New York to be a nanny for a year, just for the experience. I never imagined I would meet my future husband and decide to stay. Meanwhile, all my family and friends were back in Wisconsin. After getting married, we had bought a fixer upper, and were currently living with my In-laws while we renovated the entire house. With the birth of my 1st child, in February 2012, I found myself in a very small crowded house, battling postpartum. I knew how to take care of my child. That came easy. It was my hormones and emotions that I had no idea how to handle, and it made it even harder having to struggle in front of my new family. I needed help.
One day, I was reading the packet that the hospital sends home with you, after you give birth. I came across a flyer for a playgroup called Mother’s Connection that met at a local church. It was a non-profit group that had been around since 2003. I’m shy, and taking that first step to go there was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I told myself that it was for my daughter, this would help her socialize and make friends, even though she was only two months old. I had gone to a few story times at the library, but there was one Mother there who was always comparing our children and it made me feel uncomfortable, like I was less of a Mother if my child didn’t roll over or crawl before hers did. How did normal growth become a competition? So I was skeptical about this group, but decided to give it a try.
The moment I walked in, I felt at home. Kids were running around like crazy, dressed as super heroes and princesses, toys everywhere! I met Kathleen, who also had a daughter only a few months older than mine. We became instant friends, sharing our crazy child rearing stories, comparing notes, and listening to the more experienced mothers tell us how easy we have it with just one. Ellen had two year old triplets! Marie had two girls, Betty had two girls, Rosie had two girls, Beth had two boys, Bridget who was raising a son all on her own. I was in awe of how calm and collected they were, chatting as the kids literally tried to climb the walls. They had such inner peace, it was amazing.
I came home, a changed Mother. I had friends. Me. Not just my child. I looked forward to every Monday, being able to talk to other like minded individuals, share stories and advice. Each one of us had different parenting strategies, letting the kids sleep in your bed vs. keeping them in their own rooms, homeschooling vs. public school, eating habits, sleep routines, breast feeding. It didn’t matter that everyone had their own opinion and way of doing things; they all supported each other no matter what. They were a family.
When I found out I was pregnant again, I was in a panic. It wasn’t planned. My first daughter was so young, only two months old! I needed more time with her. How could this have happened? Mother’s Connection was there for me, and not just emotional support. Two different Mother’s gave me their cribs that their children had outgrown; they gave me bags of girl’s clothes and shoes. When my second daughter was born, they all cooked homemade meals, and froze them, so it would be easier on me when I got home from the hospital. It was amazing. They adopted me as one of their own without a second thought. These kind, generous Souls who had enough craziness of their own going on, took the time to care about me, and my family. I knew I wanted to pass that on.
As the years went on, kids grew older and transitioned out of our group, and new Moms came. I took it upon myself to try to do for them, what the previous Moms had done for me. We had nannies come with children, a father with his daughter, and even grandparents that watched their grandson during the day.
The last two years, our numbers have been dropping significantly. We put up flyers, had fundraisers, and the church even lowered our rent, in an effort to help us. We used to have 20 kids every week, and now only a handful were showing up. It hurts my heart to think of the Mother’s out there that are struggling like I was. This non-profit playgroup has been in existence for 13 years, I can’t let this fall apart. It means too much. So, whether you just need your kid to get some energy out for a few hours or you are really searching to find a place to belong. Come check it out. You won’t regret it.
How to become involved in Mother’s Connection: