It's Like Joining The Circus...
The unintentional exclusivity of joining the New Mom Club
Before I got pregnant, I thought that all of the "New Moms" in my circle were intentionally going out of their way to cut me out.
I heard of hangouts and parties only after they had happened, 'baby-play-dates' at cafés, and children's birthday parties, and I'm not going to lie, it hurt. Upon finding out about these elite gatherings, my friends could always read the energy coming from my body and my eyes. I was sad, left out, not a mother and not included. They were always quick to tell me "oh we didn't think you'd want to be a part of a "kids thing," or else we totally would have called you." I didn't understand it. I felt like I had everything in my life that they did: a job, a loving partner, hobbies, a home, a car, a pet, and my husband, and I had even been trying to conceive for a year and a half... but I didn't have the one golden ticket that would get me into the newly formed VIP section of my friend group: a baby.
When my husband and I finally became truly blessed with the two red lines of a pregnancy test, we had no idea where to start, but we were so excited. Filled with love and fear, we waited the twelve weeks to tell our extended friend group. Suddenly, upon hearing the news that I was in fact pregnant, it was like the huge golden gates of the VIP section of my "mom" friends swung wide open, and the love and kind offers came rolling in. I was shocked. Suddenly, I was a part of the group. How was it that easy? Being offered beautiful baby-hand-me-downs, much needed advice, late night texts when I was hit with hormonal surges, and just the most loving support. In some ways, I expected to walk through these elite VIP doors, and find a group of women who were intentionally aware of leaving people other 'non-moms' out. I'm not gonna lie, I actually thought I'd find a slightly catty group of women, gathered in cafés and living rooms hissing and discussing over tea the lives of the poor childless women just on the outside of those golden doors. But I didn't find that at all. They weren't talking about us at all.
It was like joining the circus.
Upon stepping through the doors, I found a group of women who were walking the highest of tightropes in every part of their new lives as mothers. After those first few steps, I was shocked to realize what I had actually signed myself up for: physical pains with little to no explanation, doctors visits where I explained random aches and fears only to hear "well... that's just pregnancy," exhaustion, puking, late night google search fears, more puking, and a complete shift in my identity, my work, my priorities, and my life. And that was just while entering my second trimester. Upon seeing me start my journey, these amazing women so far ahead of me, sturdied themselves, and reached back to help me out. Taking the first wary steps onto my own tightrope, I looked into the eyes of these phenomenal women. They were just a few yards ahead of me, with babies on their hips, full time jobs, and a mental load that threatened to throw them tumbling into the dark abyss lying below them. But still they reached out. These women looked weary but strong. In fear, but moving forward. Even though they were still finding the balance in their own new life as Moms, they saw me join the circus, and instinctively reached out to help me. They didn't have to, but they did.
This made me realize so much. "New moms" aren't excluding you. They just don't see you. How could they? They are up on these tightropes trying to just 'keep the show on the road'. Their lives, both externally and internally have changed so much. They feel like completely new people, because in so many ways they are. They feel happy and sad, blessed and ripped off all at the same time. When, and if, you step onto your tightrope, they will be there for you, just like other women were there for them. But if you don't get the chance to have babies (by choice or not), as hard as it is to hear (as it was for myself to hear) it's hard to explain that world to you unless you are in it.
I remember as a teenager hearing of a childhood friend who had been sexually assaulted, and feeling bad, but not really understanding the pain she went through. I didn't know how to bring it up, or if she wanted me to. It was like there was a huge invisible wall between her and I. That was, until a decade or so later, when I found myself the victim of a sexual assault at a party when I was 21 years old. Immediately I understood her. I understood her anger, I understood her confusion and her shame. In an instant I was overwhelmed with empathy and anger for her, and for all of us. It also went further than just her and my relationship, and an empathy surged for all women and men who had been used for another person's sexual enjoyment against their will. I felt, for lack of a better explanation, a part of that group. A group that you didn't have to explain or defend your actions and feelings. You could just look them in the eyes and there was a mutual understanding of the journey and its pain. Understanding motherhood is like this.
I have come to see that the exclusivity of motherhood is in no way intentional. It is a group of women who are banding together, to get through a journey that takes the ultimate amount of physical and emotional superhero strength.
When, and if, you step into the Mommy Club, these women will be there for you, because it is only then that they will finally see you. And down the road when you have 'new moms' come up behind you in their journey looking terrified, you with your children in tow will reach back and help them too. Even with your plate overflowing and full, you will make room to help these new moms, just as it was made for you. You won't make room for much else in your life, or many other people, but you will make room for a new mom.