When I found out I was unexpectedly expecting at 23, my life changed overnight. Once the initial shock and excitement had started to wear off, the harsh reality of the fact this tiny little life inside my womb was solely dependent on me began to take root – I couldn’t drink, I couldn’t smoke, I couldn’t stay up late, hell I could barely keep my eyes open to change into my pyjamas after a day at work before I fell face first onto my bed.
Gradually throughout my pregnancy, my new routine (centered around sleep and stuffing my face, naturally) began to fall out of step with that of my gainfully employed friends. Although my friends were undoubtedly there for me when I needed them, I yearned after someone other than Google I could call on at 4am just to be reassured that profuse sweating and leg cramps were a perfectly normal part of pregnancy and weren’t going to kill me.
Once C was born and the flurry of frequent visitors and endless cups of tea had worn off, I suddenly found myself alone in our new house, in a new town, with a new baby. Somehow, even though I had my very own baby with me every hour of every day, I had never felt so desolate. I needed advice from people who had been in my situation (less than 24 years ago – thanks mum, you tried). I needed help. I was desperately craving encouragement and reassurance I wasn’t fucking this massive responsibility up. My life was now ruled by an endless desire to please the 51cm dictator of my life, and instead of repaying my efforts with coos and smiles, he woke up every 3 hours to suck the life out of my increasingly more cracked nipples.
Months passed and Dan and I got into the swing of things. Life started to become increasingly easier as the bond between C and us grew stronger. His toe curling screams soon turned to the smiles and coos I longed for and I began to find my feet and my own parenting style. I wanted desperately to take him to local baby groups. I wanted to socialise and to make some awesome fellow mom friends who could relate when I told them about the morning battle with porridge-raspberries. But I soon found being in my early twenties, covered in tattoos and with half my hair shaved off, I wasn’t high up on the people-you-want-to-associate-with list.
Women stood in threatening clusters and I could feel their eyes burning into me as I played alone with C on the floor. Mums at baby groups are BRUTAL. I’m talking, Regina George in Mean Girls brutal. In a room full of plastics I was definitely Janis Ian (which I guess made C Damian, cute!). I took him to 2 or 3 groups and I gave up. I was destined to be a loner mama.
But then I was invited to join Punky Moms on Facebook
-an online haven for alternative parents. I saw the tagline, ‘No place for competition, judgement, girl hate’ and had a quick scroll through the page. I saw women praising other women, talking openly about their parenting and general life decisions, laying their opposing opinions out rationally, empowering one another – I was hooked. I had never felt so accepted and free to speak my mind as I did within this group of rad, powerful females. I have laughed with them, cried with them, confided things in them I daren’t even say aloud, because I know within Punky Moms, I will only be met with encouragement and love.
I have a group of real life mom friends I have been friends with for as long as I can remember, and they are always there for me when I need them to be. But through Punky Moms, I have been able to make new real life friends, who have children of similar ages, to go on play dates or just drink coffee and hang out with.
I can’t even begin to describe how beneficial it has been to my mental health to be able to moan to another human about the asshole things my baby does, without fear of judgement. A strong group of empowering, non-judgmental mum friends. Moms who have been in your situation or are going through a similar one right now, are the best tonic when you’re feeling worse for wear. Having such a solid group of women behind me during this amazing journey has been indescribable. These women have kept my head above water when it’s felt like the rest of me is silently drowning. I will forever be grateful for my Punky Moms.