Somewhere around month three or four of maternity leave, I started to get antsy. It was the middle of winter, I only had a tiny baby to talk to all day long, and I felt like I didn’t have a clue about what I was doing. I craved conversation, the answers to all of my questions and an outing (preferably with a cup of coffee and a scone). I was so desperate I would sometimes go to Yorkdale Mall and just walk around in circles with Sophie in the stroller.
Then I got a flier in the mail for a maternity store not far from our apartment. They were offering a 12-week mommy group, with expert facilitators, on Wednesday afternoons. It was expensive, but it was so close I could walk there, and at that point, I just needed something to get through the week. Blaine and I discussed and agreed that I should enroll.
It started off well enough: I met a handful of women with kids around the same age as Soph. I connected with one mom and that friendship sustained me through the rest of my mat leave, as we’d go for walks and talk about our lives and our kids (her daughter is 10 days older than Sophie). In that respect, I suppose the group did its job. But even though I made a friend, I was disappointed. There were few resources offered and the conversation felt stilted. I felt like I was in the new-mom trenches and wanted to know how others were handling it, but there was no opportunity for free-flowing conversation; it felt like school, raising my hand to comment and filling in evaluations after every class. I also felt like the recommendations were skewed to the facilitator’s feelings about things, and there were times I left feeling worse than when I went in.
This past winter, I started thinking about it again. I’m the editor of a regional section of Today’s Parent, called Today’s Parent Toronto, and I kept thinking, “I’d love to offer something to counter my experience.” I envisioned open conversation, something that didn’t cost money and the potential to introduce new parents to other new parents in their direct community. I ran the idea by the Toronto sales rep Natalie, who thought Second Cup might be the perfect partner. So, here we are, so excited to launch our series of pop-up parent groups — aptly named What’s Brewing — at Second Cup cafes across the city. Once a month, we’ll meet with a group of parents in different neighbourhoods to discuss a new topic. At the first meeting, happening on Thursday, October 10 at 10:00 a.m. at the St. Lawrence Market Second Cup (163 King St. E.), we’ll be talking all about sleep (remember that glorious word?). If you’re interested in attending, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. (That’s it. No payment required.) Space is limited, so reply now! Each participant will receive a gift bag for attending.
Like us on Facebook for details on upcoming What’s Brewing meetings. We hope to connect with you in your community over the next year.