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Mother's Groups Help Us Bridge the Gaps
between Expectations and Reality

by Maria Walker

“MIND THE GAP” was our sign off when mum and I used to write letters between New Zealand and London. Of course the original “Mind the Gap” was a sign about the dangerous gap between the train and platform in the tube station. We decided the “gap” was between life as you expected it to be and life as it really is.
This seems a good a place to write about my journey with as a mother and as a participant and then facilitator of mothers groups.  I think of these groups as a crucial bridge between these gaps that women talk about when they become mothers.
To name a few gaps:
  • The gap between life as part of a romantic sexy couple bonded by attraction, and the reality of being parents together forgetting when you last had a date or even a lie in.
  • The perspective gap, seeing life as a mother instead of a daughter.
  • The geographical gap, for those of us who find ourselves isolated from extended family.
  • The gap between media versions of “yummy mummies” who often look immaculate, and the reality of a “jelly bellied”, sleep deprived mother getting out of the house with a top that is clean, snacks, nappies, etc.
  • The gap between anticipated birth experience and reality; between midwives-intuition-homebirthing and hospitals.
  • The gap between giving birth biologically and IVF assisted birth or adopting a child.
  • The gap between our childfree friends and our new-made mother friends.
  • The gaps in conversations “mind gaps”– unfinished sentences, or forgetting what you were saying.
  • The gap between increased expenditure and reduced income.
  • The gap between what we say about our experience and how it really is.

Bridging the Gap

I cannot forget my mother. She is my bridge.
When I needed to get across, she steadied
herself long enough for me to run across safely.
    Renita Weems
Whatever the gaps may be for us, between our dreams and our realities, there is comfort and inspiration when we come together as a group. We build bridges by recognising the gaps and the common ground. Instead of competing, we nurture each other and stand strong with gratitude, laughter, practical ideas. We are also able to share our private griefs and struggles within the safety of our group. By sharing the darker aspects, we feel lighter, more real, and are able to share our joys as well.
Thank you for helping to bridge the gaps.

Article posted 22 October 2014
maria walker counselling for new parents wellington
Maria Walker is a psychotherapist in Wellington.
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