Please understand. If you are a young mother in need of company, reassurance and a chat with your babe in arms then the mother and baby gettogether is a very valuable haven. But it was not for me. And it has taken me seven years before I can come out of the baby closet and tell you why.
I gave an hour of my life to a mother and baby ‘todo’ and I will never get that hour back. Nor do I want it!
Living in the countryside when you are a young mother is altogether very difficult. Living anywhere when you are for the most part alone with a new infant without your parents, siblings and friends to rant to is very difficult. You love your new infant but the trouble is he doesn’t come with instructions or a wide vocabulary or an ability to dress himself. Imagine!
So finding myself in a similar state when my first born very patient child was born, I took the advise of a visiting nurse (it’s always the nurse!) and took myself off to a mother and baby group. Now to begin with my expectations were high. I wanted to know how to keep this little person in good stead while keeping myself, well, sane. I wanted laughter, I wanted a little light relief, I wanted some friends. I don’t ask for much. Instead what did I get? An hour long conversation on poo. No. An hour long graphic and visual conversation on poo.
Only a young mother, breastfeeding her child or otherwise can fully appreciate the obsession that one has when her first born arrives with the colour of their, excuse me, stool. But put a group of young walking wounded sleep deprived women with young babies in a room is, or was in my mind, a reciepe for disaster. All it takes is one person to mention the poo word and they were off.
‘Yes, it was black and tar-ry on day one, and then it became more yellow and mustardly.’
‘Is yours still mustardy’. ‘Yes.’ ‘And smelly.’
‘Mine isn’t so much as mustardly as kind of greenish now. The nurse said that was alright.’
‘Can I see?’ And yes, she did reveal all. I was indignant on behalf of the babe in arms. But it didn’t stop there. All members of the assembled group joined in while I covered my sons eyes at the scenes of bare bottom nudity while rashes were examined and nappy contents continued to be dissected ad nauseum. And what was I looking for? What did this party need beside alcolhol?
Why, a sense of humour. Why are we mature adults not seeing the hilarity of talking about poos. Was I the only one who felt that I had just left the real for the surreal? That common sense had left the building and taken its buddy humour with it. Looking back, the only sensible addition to the meeting would have the presence of an older mother, a granny or mother of three grown children to periodically look up from her knitting and say ‘he’s grand’. Sitting there in the middle diffusing all anxieties with ‘he’s grand.’ ‘That’s nothing girl’, he’s grand’. For that’s how it was done you know, new mothers were held in the care of the wider family and shown how to rear their young and dismiss nagging worries with nonchalant shrugs and laughter.
So there you have it. I feel lighter for having said it. I’m sure there are more positive experiences out there in the world of mammy and baby meetings but I don’t want to know. I am no longer the young mother lost in a sea of questions about babies but beggining to become fluent in the language of the mature mammy uttering ‘he’s grand’ at every fall. ‘Up ow that, you’re grand.’
So come here you young mammies, please know, he (or indeed she) is just grand. Big love to you.