Let’s just call them Margot, Angela and Sally. Source: Bad Moms
I was sitting at a 3rd birthday party with a few mothers at the table; one was discussing how she still catches up with her mother’s group.
“We all got along so well,” she said, “except with this one mum who overshared her personal life on the first day, and then wrote a message to all of the mums in the group telling them she had enough of them.” The woman laughed and told us how her group didn’t understand where it came from. She said this lady was just a “looney”.
I nodded, and not because I agreed. But because I understood where that note came from. You were all bitches.
You see, in the group, I was that mother. I was the “Looney”.
Making friends or foes?
My mother’s group experience started off well. We all met and were all friendly. We shared our horrible birth stories, got along. I was excited for the potential of lifelong mum friends.
But I was wrong.
I noticed there was a little bitchiness in the group. One mother, Margot,* despised another mother, Angela,* because her parenting methods were by the clock. She would talk about her and I’d nod and smile politely. It always made me feel awkward because I liked Angela. I’d always change the subject, but Margot really had it out for her.
Margot was keen on being my “bestie” and always wanted to hang one on one. We all lived close so we were always bumping into the other girls, which Margot didn’t like.
She referred to the other mothers, especially Angela, as “Drainers”.
I hated hearing the bitching. I liked them all. Source: Bad Moms.
They turned their backs on me
Motherhood was hard for me. My little girl never slept and I felt Margot really understood. I actually thought we were both struggling together, so when I fell deep into postnatal depression, I was surprised that I stopped hearing from her. When I was admitted to a Mother Baby Unit, not one of them contacted me and the one time I heard from Margot, she’d said she told the other girls what was going on with me and explained on my behalf.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure if this was a good thing or bad thing. Why couldn’t they contact me? Why did I feel like I was an alien?
When I was out of the hospital, I called Margot to organise a catch-up. She asked me how I was doing and didn’t explain why I hadn’t heard from her. I thought she may have felt awkward, but when she hinted that the other girls were disappointed by my disappearance, I was hurt. I was really going through something, yet I still felt the need to justify myself and make amends for my actions.
I felt like everyone hated me
So I decided to organise a joint first birthday party for all our kids. I explained my plans to Margot and she told me she would relay it to the girls. It seemed odd. “Why can’t I just tell them?” I thought to myself.
Margot also said they were all thinking of going out to dinner and watching a movie, I accepted and said I would discuss the birthday plans then.
I quickly learnt these people were not my real friends. Source: Bad Moms.
Finding the truth
We all sat down to dinner. Angela and Margot sat together, talking about their weekend, laughing and smiling. “Well, things had certainly changed since my hospitalisation,” I mused.
Angela announced that she and Margot had discussed and decided on a joint birthday for our soon-to-be 1-year-olds over the weekend – the same plans I had talked over with her the week before that was meant to be my show of effort towards the friendship after going MIA because of my Postnatal Depression.
From Angela and Margot organising it, all of a sudden, another mother from the group was sending out texts to lock in times and secret-style Santa gift giving (my idea). I received a message from Sally*, the other mother, and promptly told her I was in.
I always liked Sally. She had expressed to me how she was struggling too, and I felt like we were connecting and I shared with her my deepest emotions about having postnatal depression.
“Make sure you don’t cancel last minute,” she said.
“What do you mean?” I asked, confused.
“We don’t want any of the kids to miss out because you can be unreliable – like you were around Christmas. Margot explained it all.”
WTF?! At Christmas, I was in a Mother Baby Unit. Hospital.
My eyes flooded with tears, and I explained to her how much I was hurting around that time, and it was never my intention to be “unreliable”. I was hurt and I was so angry. I told her to forget it, and that I wasn’t coming anymore because, god forbid, I was unreliable.
So much more happened than that, but I kept on trying to stay close until one day I realised that my self-worth was much more than my little girl having some friends her own age.
Mothers groups can suck sometimes, but there is hope
Margot has tried to catch up with me a few times, and I always just brush her off. I would love to tell them what I really think of them and how they hurt me, but unfortunately, our children go to the same Kinder. Bumping into them would be too awkward and confrontation gives me anxiety
So if you’re in a new mothers group, and you see that mum “over-sharing”; she wants a real friend, she needs some support and motherhood is a struggle for her. Don’t dismiss her as looney, and don’t be a Margot or a Sally.
And if you are like me, in your new mother’s group, trust me, there are plenty of other ways you can meet like-minded mums at different playgroups, and make lifelong friends who won’t put you down when you struggle.
*Not their real names