In praise of mums’ groups

The school summer holiday is approaching. For the last 15 or so years this hasn’t meant much to me, except for the influx of tourists to Cornwall and the virtual impossibility of finding a parking space in St Ives after 11am.

But now the summer holidays herald the hiatus of the majority of mums’ groups me and E attend. Usually my week is mapped out with meet ups in cafés, community buildings and churches, places where E can people watch to his heart’s content and where I can have a two-way conversation (E and I have ‘chats’, but I suspect neither knows what the other is talking about – there’s a joke in there somewhere…).

With these groups breaking for the next six to eight weeks me and several other mums are wondering what we will do. Yes, we will meet up in the park or cafe, but for some reason, it’s not the same.

Part of the reason is because these groups have played a vital role in helping me to feel like me again. I went to the first group, Mama Cafe (www.mamacafe.org.uk), when I was heavily pregnant. The mums were able to juggle conversation while dealing with the inevitable distractions of the many babies who ranged in age from newborns to crawlers.

I returned to the group when E was three weeks old. It was my first trip out on my own with E since he had been born and I was still recovering from the birth, both physically and emotionally. We were welcomed into the fold.

Looking back, I think this might have been the first day that I didn’t cry and the first day that I could see a light in what had felt like a very dark tunnel. Of course I still had dark days after this, but I knew there were people I could talk to who had gone through similar experiences. It was also the first place I felt able comfortable enough to breastfeed in public. Now, the boob is out whenever needed, but back then this was a BIG DEAL.

I’ve gone to other groups since then – if I don’t like the ‘vibe’ then I don’t go back. The groups are fantastic and all offer something slightly different.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. But it takes mums’ groups to keep the mum sane.

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