The Problem With Birth E6: Mom Groups
This is the transcribed version of episode 6 of the podcast The Problem With Birth. This transcript has not beeb evaluated for spelling and or grammar, so don't judge me! Just chuckle ton yourself and move on from my fast fingers. Enjoy!
Hey everyone, I'm your host Holly Clayburn, and this is the problem with birth.
This week though, I actually want to talk about a topic that's not specifically related to birth, but just more on parenting, and geared towards moms or at least mom groups. Talking about all aspects of parenthood from birth, to postpartum, to toddler tantrums, to support systems has always been the objective of this podcast though, so I hope that even through other topics that I can still resonate will a lot of you. This will definitely be a more targeted episode, but even if you aren't a mom, or you're blessed enough to have never been personally victimized by a mom group, I hope you still get a good laugh, and a little salty with me.
Y'all... I am in SO many mom groups on facebook, and let me tell you they are pretty much the worst. I swear they make me want to peel my face off somedays. The few exceptions to this rule are my local crunchy mom groups, but they are pretty much the only exception.
The biggest issues with mom groups are how incredibly rude and judgmental other moms can be, and how much false information is spread.
Mom groups are so popular and many of them have thousands upon thousands of members from not only just the US, but internationally as well. The idea of this is really appealing, because we all know how incredibly lonely motherhood can be, but reality is that you're probably going to be attacked and called some names. Part of the problem in some cases is because people from different areas or cultures come off in different ways, but instead of anyone ever respectfully disagreeing or learning, they just fight like middle school boys. Maybe this stirs me up so much because I am not a person who thinks that everyone I interact with has to think exactly like me, in fact, I am complete opposite. In my circle of friends, we of course have things in common, but we are all very very different and I love that. I think life would be so boring if everyone was exactly the same, which is probably why I married my polar opposite, but the point is that my issue with mom groups isn't people who have differing opinions than me.
There is something about the internet that removes humanity from people, and makes them forget that they are talking to other human beings with feelings. People say things via words on a screen that they wouldn't dare say to anyone's face, and they feel vindicated doing so with other mean moms hyping them up. With the rise in popularity of national mom groups, due date groups, or just "support" groups for parents in general, you will be very hard pressed to find someone who hasn't had a least one negative experience in one.
I can totally stand behind people who are passionate about certain topics, I definitely know that I am, but that doesn't mean that my opinion is always right, or right for everyone. Sure some things are facts, and I think that gentle education is important especially when it comes to things like car seat safety, but you can always remain tactful and respectful.
I was talking to a mom friend of mine yesterday and she told me of an AWFUL exchange she witnessed in the one and only mom group she's ever partaken in. A mom posted a cute picture of her child in a carseat, and the child was improperly restrained. Multiple moms processed to jump her ass and tell her everything that was wrong, but offer zero advice on how to fix it so her daughter was safe. The mom who originally posted went on to PM every single mom who was rude to her and told them that she took the pictures that they had posted of their own kids, and sold it to a child pervert group. True story, y'all.
So let's break this down a little bit. First off, carseat safety is a fact not an opinion and you need to do everything you can yo make sure your kids are safe in your car. If someone corrects you, don't be offended, be thankful that they want to help. Now, of course they need to do so in a positive way that is actually helpful. Jumping someone's ass is NEVER going to yield positive results. You can definitely be offended if they are rude, but don't let it cause you to ignore their suggestions. Next, I cannot even begin to describe how incredibly fucked up it was of the original posting mom to even suggest that she was selling their children's pictures, let alone if she actually did it. We live in a time full of social media, and technology, and creeps have easier access to us and our kids than ever before so just be smart about the pictures you post and the infotamtion you share. My friend left that group after that exchange, and has never joined another mom group. She was very newly postpartum and was absolutely traumatized by what went on.
Her experience was an extreme example, but the carseat aspect of it wasn't. I see moms jumping on each other left and right, that part of the story was very very routine. People in this world are all going to have very different opinions of things, especially when they come from different cultures, backgrounds, or social standings, but everyone needs to remember that that person who you so vehemently disagree with has feelings that are valid also. You can think they are stupid, and believe me, oh I do sometimes, but that's no cause to act like a jackass.
Now that we've gotten into my feelings and a deeper understanding of why I really hate mainstream mom groups, let's talk about why I stay in so many of them.
Like I mentioned before, I have a few local groups that I'm in that I really do love, but the are nothing like what I just described. They are very closely monitored to make sure that any disagreements remain respectful, and they are actually helpful. I've been a mom for 12 years this June and I feel like I have a good amount of wisdom, but there are moms in there who have been moms for over 20 years and I really value the way the pour into everyone and offer guidance. I also love being the one who has the wisdom and guidance from time to time, which is why I stay in all the rest. There are moms who join who are seeking answers to questions from more experienced moms, or just support in general and they are very often given either false information, or just judgmental comments. I see people who ask for advice to have a medication free birth all the time and there will be comment after comment reading "just get the epidural!' in all caps. Or people asking for specific experiences and it never fails that multiple people will say something like "well I did the exact opposite of what you're asking and it was fine." If you really want to see people lose their minds then just ask about circumcision or vaccines, that'll start a fight guaranteed every time. Mom groups bother me so much because I feel like it's just seeing the worst side of everyone all the time. Where people are looking for real advice, friendship, or solidarity they are met with cruel words, harsh judgments, and bullying.
By now you're probably thinking that there is really no hope for someone who wants to find an online community, but I have good news, there are places to find your tribe, and it's probably the last place you'd ever think to look. Bow groups. Yep, you heard that right. Small shop, bow groups are the best. Even if you're a boy mom. Of course there is and will always be small shop drama so you need to find the ones who are dedicated to stating out of it, but when you find that tribe of bow moms, don't let them go. Okay, so it doesn't have to be a bow group, but that's where it all started for me. Really, most small shop VIP groups are full of so much love and support. Over the last 2 years since my daughter was born I gained an obsession with buying big bows for her, that eventually turned into an obsession with moccs, and handmade clothes as well. Those obsessions ultimately turned into her being a brand rep, and as silly as it might sound, my life was forever changed. I found my people. I gained two of my very best friends who even though in some ways couldn't be more different than me, love me and my kids unconditionally. One of them I was acquainted with prior to the bow group since we had mutual friends in our area, but one I wasn't and it turned out that she lived in the same area. Our three girls were all born within a few weeks of each other, and the rest is history. They are my people. Aside from them, I've gained tribes of women who have watched my kids grow up, have been through some really bad days with me, and who have loved and supported me when I needed it the most. Some of them literally live across the country from me, and it's more than likely that I'll never hug their necks, but they have brought more love and value to my life than they'll ever know.
So while yes, mainstream mom groups are the absolute pits of hell, small shop VIP groups, and rep families are God sent. Shamelss plug and shout out to Elaine Baby & Co, Texas Moccs, and Tiny Layne Co. I love those shops, I love those women who own them, and I love the communities that they have created.
If you're looking for some support as a new mom, or even a veteran mom then first think about what you're looking to gain. If you want to connect with people in your area then look for mom groups that are local to you, but check them out first. Read a few posts and if you see people being asshats then just bounce, you don't need that kind of negativity in your life. If you love spending all of your money on your children then find some small shops that you love. There's tons and tons out there, from things like bows, to shoes, to distressed denim, to handmade clothes, to jewelry, and everything in between for boys and girls. If you think you might want to join a mainstream mom group, or even something like a due date group, just spare yourself. If you really feel the need to have someone be mean to you then run on down to your local middle school to get roasted, it's honestly about the same maturity level.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and the internet is a great place to share those opinions, but it's not free range to shove your opinion down everyone's throat or to bully people. Spread awareness, educate people, have debates, but be kind and respectful always. Too many people think that their opinion and way are the only way, and the only thing that matters and that is the problem with... well society I guess lol.
I hope y'all all got a laugh with me this week as I went in a little different direction with this topic. I know y'all have some crazy mom group stories and I wanna hear them! Get them to me on social media at East Texas Birth Co, or contact me through the website theproblemwithbirth.com As always please share this podcast with your friends, family, neighbors, anyone who has been personality victimized by a mom group and who won't be offended by the F bomb I dropped. A transcript of this episode is available on the blog at etxbirthco.com be sure to tune in next week to hear my antics and see what topic i'm discussing on The Problem With Birth.