The NCT come along. I can’t speak highly enough of our NCT antenatal classes, they were superb in letting you have some small idea of what was coming. However, we had no choice, I would not have joined and gone along if it hadn’t been for local NHS cuts which meant that there were no NHS classes on offer. I thought it might be useful and indeed it was. Except for the breastfeeding class where I innocently asked how I was meant to be constantly feeding my baby via the breast and sleep and was told ‘you should have thought of that before you had a baby’. I think that put me off breast-feeding before I even had the child!
The one thing though, that was drilled into us was how much support and friendship we would gain from the other mothers on our course. *ollocks the hubby had said to that and described to me what he thought of a lot (not all) of them. I decided to counter his intuition and give it a try.
Each week we would meet with about half the class, a few people had met in the past and decided not to join in. This was fine by me. However, for me it soon became a bit of a comparison session, each week we could discuss what our kids did and didn’t do. I felt a bit uncomfortable about this, partly as I have other interests, partly as I was having such a bad time with the boy anyhow I wanted a bit of escape and not to be reminded.
I ticked along for a while, then work started again and so forth. I tried to join in, but they began leaving me out etc. I heard that they felt a bit upset about something I had written here. I didn’t ever write about them, but I did write about the local NCT, so perhaps they got confused. To be honest, I was a bit peeved about the incessant morning tea/ lunch dates around our houses and the necessity to explore my house each time. I felt that my life was on open display and I just didn’t want people changing their nappies in the boys bedroom rather than on their own change mat downstairs. Call me old fashioned.
I decided to cut myself off when I visited the Zoo with the kids and found them all having a meeting there. How embarrassing was that! I felt so incredibly awkward and although I knew they did that sort of thing all the time and I knew about it, I hadn’t actually chanced upon them before. It wasn’t somewhere that I thought they would particularly be. This chance meeting sealed the end of an era. I realised that although I cared for about 5 minutes, I didn’t really care.
I wish I hadn’t got sucked into the whole rubbish that you get told about the people you meet at baby classes being those who will be your friends for life. My friends are still those I had before I had babies, and luckily for me they have babies of their own now, so we just have an additional thing in common.
There are 2 people who I met through baby classes whom I would regard as friends, they both live around the corner from me (one is currently in the USA but we stay in touch) and I hope our kids will play together when they are older. Let this be a lesson, just because you have kids in common, if there is nothing else, there never will be!
Anyway, the local NCT has an email discussion list, which I sometimes contribute to. In the past it used to be all about breastfeeding support, what the best pram is and the like. It was great, and through it I actually met a few people, one of whom I would go to if I had any problems with anything even now. I’m still a member of this list, although I have tried to leave a few times (I’m just not very good at computing). Recently, I have become more and more shocked by it all.
You see, I live in an affluent commuter town. It’s quite unusual for mums to work, as far as I can see. Everyone has a six hundred pound pram except for me and a few plebs. Everyone has a designer change bag. That’s a different issue though isn’t it?
Well, you wouldn’t think so if you were reading the local NCT email discussion list. In the last few weeks we have had requests for thoughts on hotel Nanny’s in the Caribbean and cleaners and so forth. This is not unusual. Now, is it just me or does anyone else think that perhaps this is sending out the wrong message? Picture yourself, struggling with cash, looking for a bit of support over the baby not feeding properly/sleeping properly etc and you read this sort of thing.
I thought the NCT was about supporting parents, but surely this sort of support can be dealt with elsewhere? I for one find this sort of level of passive aggressive competition and showing off oppressive and I don’t like it one bit. I am sure that it could make someone feeling vulnerable a little bit more worthless, just when they need the support.
I wonder if this is indicative of NCT across the UK, has it become high-jacked by the middle classes? Does everyone else just use MumsNet or NetMums (whatever). We have a local nearly new sale, it is phenomenally well supported, I wonder if this is because local parents realise that there are bargains to be had as the well to do parents clear out their lofts etc.
I think its a real shame, as I know some really great people have come unstuck with NCT, people with a lot to offer. At one point, I was considering training to be an antenatal teacher and then I came to my senses. However I could write for the magazine, I could do stuff. I don’t, because I didn’t (and still don’t) agree with a couple of the NCT campaigns a few years ago and decided not to renew my membership. This meant that if I wrote something locally, I would not even get a copy of the magazine! I couldn’t just be a local member. Either you are in it all, or you are not in it. So much for supporting parents. I’m glad I am not in it locally now as I frequently hear tales of disenfranchised members. I know other local bloggers that have done things and become disheartened by it all.
It seems that just when you need a bit of support in your early days of parenting, it’s becoming increasingly hard to get. I feel concerned about this, as I think that there are probably many people out there with no-where to go, charities like the NCT filled this gap but I don’t think (at least locally) they do this anymore. With all the cuts this year which will undoubtedly have an impact on NHS services there be more and more people feeling isolated, doubting their value, suffering from the impact of competitive parenting and so on and so forth.
In part this is a plea to the NCT to get their act together, in part a plea to any new mums out there to retain their pre-baby circle of friends, not to feel that they have to try to belong in mum and baby groups and most of all to listen to your instincts about your baby.