You can spot them straight away…
Unfazed by the four hours sleep they had last night (and the night before… and the night before that).
Sporting a streamlined tote instead of a 10-kilo nappy bag stuffed with an outfit change to suit every possible variation of weather condition, from heatwave to blizzard.
They know how to unfold the pram without dislocating a shoulder and take every projectile vomit and nappy explosion in their stride.
I mean, let’s break it down. If you want to get fit, you’re going to visit a gym – not a buffet. If you want to learn French, there’s no point signing up for a tantric yoga class.
Yet when it comes to one of life’s most vital skills – parenting – we put a bunch of women with zero experience together, and tell them to go for it.
If Mothers’ Group is supposed to be a place to share knowledge and experiences, really it’s the social equivalent of doing a tandem skydive with an instructor who’s afraid of heights: you’re flying blind and just hoping not to hit the ground too hard.
Which is where our second time mums come into it.
They know their stuff.
This isn’t their first time at the rodeo, and they have some good solid practical experience behind them. And not just their own, but the combined efforts of their previous Mothers' Group as well – which pretty makes them a human Google.
Baby won’t take the bottle? They’ve got a hack for that. Teething woes? They had a friend who tried this amazing thing... They’ve learnt from their mistakes and have a carefully curated selection of go-to tips. Basically, you can save yourself a lot of pain trawling internet message boards, and just go straight to the source.
They don’t sweat the small stuff.
Admit it. You felt a bit judgey when you saw her stick the dummy back in the baby’s mouth after it fell on the ground without sterilising it 42 times. You raised an eyebrow when you saw the baby food that wasn’t just out of a packet – it wasn’t even organic.
But guess what? While you were busy being smug, she was busy... well, living her life. The second time mum knows that it doesn’t really matter what brand sleeping bag or sippy cup you end up buying; whether you exclusively feed the baby homemade gourmet meals or occasionally (OK, often) buy pre-made.
Their day is pretty damn busy – what with keeping two (or more) little humans alive – and they’re not going to worry about the inconsequential things if it means taking time away from what really counts. They don’t care about what they should be doing – they just do what works for them and their kids. Which is kinda, sorta, maybe what we all should be doing.
But they know when to worry.
One of the primary functions of Mothers' Group is to vent, and who better to do that to than someone who doesn’t just care, but actually gets it? That unique brand of empathy born from having lived and suffered through the frustrations (and sometimes disasters) of motherhood, and actually lived to tell the tale can be exactly what you need. Whether it’s a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to cry on, or someone to buy you a coffee/donut/litre of wine, you can always count on a second-time mum to put the dramas into perspective.
They can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Whether it’s the sleep deprivation or the end of life as you know it, time starts getting a bit hazy when you’ve got a newborn. And with no real road map for what to expect, every regression and rough patch really can feel like forever (especially when it’s 3am and you’re up to your 25th rendition of ‘Twinkle Twinkle’). Enter the second time mum, with their ability to put it all in context, and remind you that whether it be days, weeks or (gulp) months, this too shall pass... Albeit with a few extra wrinkles here and there.
Most of all, they’re beacons of hope.
It doesn’t matter how many dreams you’ve had of a Brady Bunch family: there’s no better form of contraception than living with a newborn. But then you have your second time mum as a living reminder that at some point in the future, you may just have this whole parenting thing down to a manageable enough level that you’d be ready to go through it all again.
Did you go to Mothers' Group? Did you find it useful? Tell us in the comments section below.