I remember being a first-time mom and realizing that everything that took five minutes pre-baby, requires an extra hour with a baby. For instance, getting out the front door of your own house.
On maternity leave? Get yourself to Tot Tank
The Moms Group meetup at Tot Tank is meant to start around 10 am but in reality, it starts when people get there.
It convenes at the back of the store where the grey nursing chairs are circled on a large soft carpet. The ladies I spoke to on a Tuesday morning explained women arrive continuously until well after 11 o'clock.
I showed up with my toddlers and hovered around the glider circle in the back of the store, trying not to creep anyone out. By 10:30, there were five women there with babies ranging from six months to the youngest, three weeks. The newborn mama was a first timer at the group. The other ladies had been coming regularly. When I introduced myself to them, they were open and welcoming. They explained that over the next hour all the chairs would fill up and there would be standing room only. The vibe was very relaxed and calm. The moms were commenting on the carpet having been recently cleaned, and ready for those needing tummy time.
Babies nursed and slept in covered strollers parked behind the glider chairs. It was foggy outside, but warm and quiet in the store. People brought in coffees and breakfast sandwiches. They sat together seeming to enjoy just being in each other’s company. Quietly rocking their babies, the long moments of silence were totally comfortable.
The most talkative mom spoke to me about finding the meet up on a 2018 Alameda mom Facebook page. Other ladies commented on having heard about the meeting from friends and neighbors. They said women would come very regularly until they had to go back to work. The long-standing members were stay-at-home moms and those who worked remotely. During maternity leave, when babies are fragile and tiny, and moms are sleepless feeding and changing machines, this is the place to be.
They told me how much they looked forward to this Tuesday meeting. They are able to network and swap information about baby mom events and outings, discounts and recalls. This is a reliably enjoyable and judgment-free social outing that relieves a little isolation.
Because of the poop, loud baby noises and often constantly having to take your boobs out of your shirt, it can be easy to get stuck at home with an infant, feeling tired, sore, and not at your best, totally alone. Somehow those feelings are just not so bad when you are with other women who feel the same way.
My youngest kid is pushing two years old, so I am out of the woods with that newborn phase. But man, I did it several times, and I will never forget that feeling. When I was 24, with my first little baby, I didn’t know groups like this existed.
The concept of showing up at a kids store and sitting with a group of other women with babies might sound pretty basic, but looking at those mothers and their teeny tiny dependents, I felt proud of them for getting out and supporting each other; taking the initiative and taking care of themselves. Moms can give each other perspective, advice, empathy, and a coffee.
How to join the Tot Tank mom meet up
This group happens every Tuesday. It’s drop-in style, and free to attend. The space is nice; the vibe is good. Strap on that baby or buckle him/her in, and do something to take care of you. Keeping a newborn alive is an undervalued stretch of months that takes everything you’ve got. Don’t do it alone, come to Tot Tank on Park Street. Tuesday at 10am (or 11, whatever). Other moms are here for you.
Tot Tank is located at 1413 Park Street in Alameda