I met these young people about nine and half years ago. We were all new parents with babies ranging in age from six weeks to three months. We all showed up on a cold January evening with babies bundled in their car seats, diaper bags overstuffed, and eyes bloodshot from lack of sleep. (We also had natural colored hair, more hair, and less wrinkles)
We were strangers with a common thread. We had no clue what we were doing AND we thought we were all alone. You know that feeling of new parenthood – sitting at home crying at 3am thinking that no one understands what you are going through, that no one out there is experiencing the same struggles, that no one else has sore nipples. (Jed complained about this a lot)
And it’s January in Minnesota and colder than cold and you are still on maternity leave so you realize you haven’t actually left the house in over a month and diaper delivery is the best invention on earth.
Yes, sure maybe you have parents to talk to, or friends who have done the new parent thing already but truly aren’t you sick of them telling you how to do things and my personal favorite ‘this too shall pass’ or maybe even ‘back in my day’ and you kind of want to stick an ice pick in their eye or maybe put some hot pepper flakes in their coffee. No, what you need is someone to talk to who is as vulnerable as yourself, one who walks around with baby spit-up on their shirt, and someone else who is still incredibly awkward trying to nurse in public without giving the world a show while dealing with a diaper blow-out that covers their lap.
So you call this place called E.C.F.E and find out that there’s a new parent class starting soon. And you fret for the two weeks prior to the first night.
You try to find an outfit that fits and looks okay and isn’t stained. You try to nurse beforehand and get the baby a good nap so she’ll be happy. You apply make-up and try to look as put together as possible and you leave your home determined that this is the right thing and you’ll do great.
You walk into this room and find nine other families who look just as sleepy as you and also look relatively scared to be there too.
And you find that no matter how hard you tried to prepare for this outing that your baby still wanted to nurse four times during the 90 minute class, she puked on your shoulder and could not be consoled so you ended up doing the ‘baby dance’ in the corner for almost the whole class unless of course you were nursing or changing a diaper.
You leave exhausted and YET you think I CANNOT WAIT TO GO AGAIN NEXT WEEK!!!
Because these were your people. You are not alone. You don’t have to do this alone. Ever.
That original ECFE group continued to get together nearly monthly over the next 4-5 years even after our class stopped. We were there for second babies and the start of school. And then things happened – the kids started kindergarten and we started drifting. A few families moved away and we drifted some more.
But there will always be that bond. That bond of being friends – those first kid friends that you make. And even when we haven’t seen each other in years we still pick-up the conversation with hugs and laughter as we share our war stories from the parenthood-front.
Nine and a half years I’ve known these people. These incredibly special people who were right there when we all needed each other the most.
We laughed today that we need to form another E.C.F.E. group – I mean we don’t need this ‘early childhood’ stuff anymore..but we need more of a P.T.F.E – that’s Pre-Teen Family Education as our kids start reaching THAT age. Seriously, don’t you think that’s brilliant? There would be wine of course at this one. And we’d just leave the kids at home. Maybe this course is actually just called Moms Night Out? I don’t know but I do know that I need to see these people more.
Did you have a good support network with your first child? Seriously(and ECFE has no idea who I am) find your people at classes like this. You’re not just saving your sanity, you’re making lifelong friends.