Like all new cars, ours has – along with that excellent scent – the bluetooth function that links our phones automatically to the car sound system. For some reason, whenever we get in, both of our phones default to immediately playing particular songs. Tim’s is ‘All You Need Is Love‘, and although I didn’t even know I had it in my playlist, mine is ‘Thunderstruck‘. I don’t know what the opposite of dulcet is, but it was with such AC/DC tones that I made my way to my first English speaking mothers’ group.
Motsy’s away in Vienna for the week, and it was the first heavy fog we’ve had in our town this morning (I’ve heard it gets worse though – there’s tell of not being able to see an arm’s length away for several weeks in these parts). Nerves of driving in such conditions aside, I was determined to make it along. It was hard to remember to be scared as I drove the curving roads through misty forests, with gold and red leaves falling, heavy with dew (I know they were heavy and damp as they stubbornly refused to leave the windscreen when they landed).
Mothers’ groups, before one has a baby, have a really bad reputation. I had no intention of joining one, and it was only that I promised Tim I’d give it a go prior to rubbishing it completely that I went along to mine. I distinctly remember walking to the local health centre on a warm summer’s morning, Adelaide asleep in her pram and me hoping she’d not wake up or at least keep the crying to a minimum once we got there (I did not want to appear to be the mother who couldn’t even handle her own baby). I was excited but nervous – I’d not met people in a completely new context since uni, really (I don’t count work as you have fixed roles and as such it’s an easier social system to navigate). I’d also realised, six weeks in, that no matter how bad the group was I was going to need them – my days were long and frequently without adult conversation, and although (as you may have noticed) I can talk about her sleep forever, I was fairly sure my pre-baby friends couldn’t. I was prepared for a group of people with whom I had little in common, and also for some Judgey McJudgersons who would look down on everything I did with my girl.
I needn’t have worried. We had to go around the group and say what we hoped to get out of it – fairly early on, one of the mothers said ‘I’d just like to make some friends’. The rest of us, bleary eyed and still holding our babies awkwardly (mine probably crying), nodded in agreement and, it felt, relief. That vulnerability exposed and with it a basic social barrier broken, I struck mothers’ group gold: a group of lovely, relaxed and cake (cough wine) loving locals who were nothing like I had expected. I knew it would be one of the things I’d miss, but thanks to social media I still get to see snaps of the sweet little ones and their lovely mamas (and one father).
With this positive experience under my belt, I was determined to find a new group here. Thanks to the googles and our relocation people a group that meets weekly in Baar was discovered. Adelaide and I lumbered along to the meeting this morning, but this time without nerves (I did still hope she wouldn’t cry, though). It’s a group for English speaking mothers of kids less than one year old – at nearly ten months my Laideybird is one of the oldest there. There were half a dozen or so mothers: mostly English, one American and a couple I couldn’t quite place, and the babies ranged from eleven weeks to eleven months.
I loved being around the little ones, not least because it turns out I love babies (I really didn’t think I did, prior to having one, but as it happens I like all the babies, all the time) but also because my number one favourite topic could be explored at length with people who similarly never tire of it. I like to be able to look at younger babies and be reminded of how much she’s grown, and then look at the older ones and know that just around the corner she’ll be like them, that it’s not as static as it feels some days. It’s helpful to get tips and inside knowledge – local walking tracks, good cake venues and swimming classes for our little ones. Mostly, though, it’s reassuring to speak to other mothers who, even this side of the world, find their days are exactly the same and ultimately just want to make new friends too (and, I hope, have wines on the side).