Since moving from Sydney to Canberra last month, there are not a lot of things that I miss about my old hometown.
I love my new city – Canberra is like a grand, stately aunt who knows all the best people, places and gossip. Yet, I do feel an absence in my life, and I know that what I’ve lost can never be truly replaced.
Leaving Sydney meant leaving my mothers’ group behind, and all of the warmth and laughter that surrounded us. Nobody could compare with the fabulous group of women I met when I had my second child.
In Sydney, every week, community health centres host groups of parents and babies. Often led by an experienced midwife, parents group (or mothers’ group, if it’s just women) is an opportunity to chat about the joys and hardships of being a new parent. That’s where I met my mothers’ group.
It’s funny to think back to those times, because I didn’t know that the women sitting on hard chairs and nursing mewling newborns would eventually become my friends.
A Facebook group was set up, and one day, I casually suggested that my house was free if anyone wanted to come over for a coffee. Almost all of the group said yes.
At first, I wondered what I had done – I’m secretly introverted, and one of my favourite things to do is to hunch over my laptop, alone, and watch Netflix while eating frozen yoghurt. Why had I invited twenty strangers and their babies AND their siblings to my house?
Well, I knew the answer to that. As shy and hermit-y as I may be, I had just moved to a suburb in bushland Sydney, and my large, empty house felt cold and lonely. I didn’t know anyone, and I was at home pretty much every day and night with my two-year-old daughter and newborn son. I needed friends, and wasn’t afraid to go get ‘em.
The coffee catch-up was a raging success. One of the women happily gave me a bag filled with mandarins she’d picked herself. Another made muffins with cream-cheese frosting, and I was elated when she left the uneaten muffins at my place. Food aside, I’d had lots of nervous, cheerful chats with the other mums, and I felt that maybe, probably, we were going to be friends.