When I was pregnant about six years ago, I embarked on a mission to find a support group for moms. It wasn’t the first time I was with child. But it was the first time I was raising my family in a new city, away from my circle of friends and family. I had moved to New York with my husband and my 5-year-old son to be a stay-at-home mom. That year, I had an epiphany–I was not a huge fan of motherhood. In my haste to wed and relocate, I forgot how much my mother, sisters and family members supported me since giving birth. My mother was always on call as a babysitter while I worked my way through college, and my sisters always offered shoulders lean on. Well in New York, my babysitter list was blank. And it didn’t matter really, since I didn’t have any friends to hang out with anyway!
It took time to adjust to being an around-the-clock caregiver. My life as a single, unmarried mom had a fair amount of freedom. I could go dancing when I felt the urge to tap my feet and wiggle my hips. But in my new role as a stay-at-home, married mom, I couldn’t move–I felt trapped.
All mom and no play made me a depressed, lonely woman. When my husband went to work, I found company in my computer and searched for how to start a support group for moms. I searched for how to join or start a support group for moms and Googled terms like Black Moms in New York City and Mommy Meet ups in Queen. I needed someone to push me through this rough patch of parenting and someone who looked like me.
That’s when I discovered the Queens/Long Island Chapter of Mocha Moms. I met other women, who looked like me and stayed home with their children. Many left lucrative careers to become household CEOs. I was no longer alone. I surrounded myself with support. I got and gave advice about everything from breastfeeding and potty training to picking preschools and pursuing passions. We planned playdates. We volunteered in our communities. We partied. And most importantly, we celebrated our sisterhood.
Fast forward 4 ½ years, I moved back to my hometown of Pittsburgh. By this time Mocha Moms and my husband’s patience had cured my baby blues, and I felt empowered as a stay-at-home mother. I couldn’t wait to connect with another Mocha Moms chapter. But when I searched the Internet, Google didn’t deliver. At first, I was disappointed. Then, I was motivated to start my own group–Pittsburgh Brown Mamas. The online and in-person group’s mission is simple: Help moms be the best they can be. By making moms better moms, we make dads better dads, children become better adults, and ultimately, communities become better places to live.
If there isn’t a group in your community, why not start one! You’re probably not the only person who needs to connect. Here’s how you can crate your own support group.
1. Find Friends Online
Post a message about your interest in meeting other moms like you. Ask your friends to tag moms they think might be interested in connecting. Once you receive responses, form a private Facebook group. Remember, it’s about quality not quantity! Five dedicated members are more meaningful than 50 women who rarely contribute.
2. Plan an Event
Survey moms to find common interests and learn the ages of children. Then plan an event that would appeal to everyone. If there are a range of ages, go somewhere fun for babies and big kids, such as the park. If babysitters aren’t available, host a movie night or a pot luck.
3. Set Ground Rules
Do you plan to share secrets? Then be sure that there’s a confidentiality clause! It doesn’t have to be formal. But members should agree to keep what they discuss in the group, inside the group–unless they receive permission to share the information with others. You can also make rules regarding how the group will operate. How will you divide and conquer the work? Who decides the location of the group outing? What type of posts are off limits? What would call for the removal of a member?
Hey Motor Mouth moms! Did you join a support group? If not, do you plan to start one of your own? If you are in the Pittsburgh region or just need a mommy friend online, reach out to me at BrownMamas.com.