Thursday, January 16, 2014

10 Things I Learned from Online Moms' Groups (or "Why I Left My Online Moms' Groups")

Today I made a big decision I'd been tortured over for several months: I left most of my online mommy groups.

I joined them originally because it was super-annoying to constantly read Facebook updates from my friends when all they talked about was their babies. Particularly eye-roll-inducing were the statuses about morning sickness or poop or naps or rashes.

When I became pregnant, I sought out several online groups for:
  1.  support and ...
  2.  a safe place to post about morning sickness or poop or naps or rashes, thereby ...
  3. keeping my regular Facebook feed free of the super-annoying baby statuses I had come to hate.
It was pretty useful. My baby didn't sleep much, and I found great support from several women I'd actually consider friends now. They helped me through some pretty rough patches. I also found it a safe place to discuss PPD issues, as I wasn't comfortable discussing my mental health in the local face-to-face groups. (The first time I went to a new moms' group in Louisville, I met two other new moms who told me immediately that they had both of my CDs. So, yeah, I wasn't about to sit there and start sobbing in front of them. I returned to online groups for my confessions.)

Then came the drama. The judging. The bullying. The she-said-this-about-you. The confessions. I spoke up once or twice on some threads, then started just scrolling along, trying to ignore the nonsense, and stick to honest questions about my baby.

But lately I've found myself wanting to catch up on the story lines, the drama, the moles, the shocking revelations and plot twists. I've decided that, despite having met a lot of really nice and helpful women, I just don't have time for negativity anymore. And I've got Netflix if I want to catch up on Melrose Place for a healthy dose of drama. (Does Netflix have MP? Is that a totally outdated reference?)

I don't have a therapist (yet), but I'm pretty sure if I did, s/he would tell me to leave the groups.

So with a swift click of a button, I am gone. If I am ever to get pregnant again (still TBD), I will not be joining a "Due in September" or whatever group.

Here are some bits of wisdom I've learned from my time in moms' groups:
Focusing on positive moments like
this one, rather than online drama --
however riveting that drama may be.
  1. Don't talk religion, politics, or vaccinations.
  2. There is always a troll.
  3. Whatever main group you join will eventually split up into several small ones, often many times over.
  4. If you say something about another momma -- even if said momma is not in the group or has blocked you -- it will get back to her.
  5. There are a lot of genuinely wonderful women in them.
  6. You don't need to stay in the groups to maintain contact with the nice ones
  7. For every adorable photo you post of your baby, someone will comment on how dirty your house is or how his socks don't match or how he's too young to be having cereal.
  8. Sometimes other people point out safety issues that you didn't know about and actually really appreciate.
  9. Sometimes they don't point them out so nicely.
    and the biggest lesson, by far...

  10. Just because you have babies the same age doesn't mean you actually have anything in common.

That said, I'm staying in the local Moms' groups.*  I mean, I don't want to clutter your Facebook feed with poop statuses.

And wasn't the whole point of seeking out other moms to talk about motherhood and our babies? Time to focus on the wee boy a little more. Enjoy some cute pics, won't you?

*Speaking of local moms' Facebook groups, here is a terrific article about Shannon Stone. I owe a lot of my sanity to her and her work.


  1. You forgot under no circumstances ever post a photo of your child in a car seat no matter how strictly you think you are following safety regulations. :-) Good for you for having the strength to do what I have been contemplating for more than a year.

    1. Lol -- YES. That is a great one.

      I do care about many of the women on there, and I wish I'd friended a few of them before I hit "leave group." But I'm hoping life without the temptation of drama will be a little more simple.

  2. I am actually in moms groups from both my boys. I can say without a doubt they are SO DIFFERENT. My Dec 2007 group is in tact. We all get along pretty darn well and are allowed to drop off and come back. We talk about everything, divorces, domestic abuse, marriages, new babies, broken hearts, new loves and you can only imagine more more more. We are a special group. my second moms group I have in common with you. It is far more expressive. More fractured than I could ever imgine, but I've found a home there too. I am sorry to see you exit, but totally get that decision too. Much love to you!

    1. That is amazing -- since 2007?! I love that. It's really really nice to know that a group of women can stick together for so long and be mature about it. Do you have an idea what the difference is? Are people closer to the same age? Fewer strong personalities? Just over-analyzing here:) I wonder what it is that makes those groups like your Dec2007 group so special (and rare). And there is something special about the AG group too, of course, but ... well, like you said, you understand the decision :) xoxo

  3. Love it. I left a mom's group that I was a part of when I was expecting with Stella because of all the vitriol. The few moms that I considered real friends and I formed our own FB group so we can keep up with our kids, but I think I'll always be scarred from all the virtual yelling I sustained. BTW, we were living in Park Slope when a certain post on a certain parent's list serve (called Park Slope Parents) came about that later became famous and inspired the clip you posted (I'm nearly certain it did, anyway). A mom posted that she lost her kid's hat on the playground - a 2 year old boy's hat or whatever. And that poor woman was called every horrible name in the book and was accused of screwing her child's gender identity up for life. Just for asking if anyone had seen her kid's hat. That list serve also used to talk about the teachers at my school by name, ranking us and ranting about the amount of homework (or lack thereof) we gave, how we might have actually uttered the word "no" to Tommy one day, or that we weren't intellectually challenging enough for their 9 y/o who loved to read Dostoyevsky in his spare time. *Shudder*. I try to think about that when I miss living in Brooklyn.