Allow me to begin with a qualifier: there are some great things about these classes too. They just paled into insignificance for me…
When you’re pregnant with your first child, it’s easy to buy into the fairytale perpetuated by consumerism: the vision of a tiny snuffly babe curled on your chest, smelling of love and hope and daydreams. It’s what we anticipate and look forward to when we plan a family, after all. So you’d be forgiven - nay, encouraged - for holding onto that visage for as long as possible.
Shit, I wrote an entire post dedicated to this precise subject because I got so sick of people a couple of years into their parenting journey tarnishing that time for me with their terrifying realities. Ultimately, it’s different for us all and just because one mother struggles with a colic-y baby/PND/PNA/etc doesn’t mean another will. And who are we to dash the beautiful fantasies of the uninitiated?
Being a parent is indeed hard in lots of ways; it’s also beautiful, and it does no harm to promote that aspect in hopes that new parents may not have the same difficulties we did/do. It’s a tough balance to strike though, isn’t it - preparing your soul sisters without putting the fear of God into them.
One aspect I do try to always be honest about is NCT classes.
The Promise of NCT Classes
If you’re the first of your friendship group to have a baby, then you’ll naturally be looking for like-minded people in your locale who you can share the milestones, trials and tribulations with. NCT classes are touted as the perfect way to achieve this, whilst also learning a little about what you can expect when it comes to labor, pain-relief, delivery, breastfeeding, diaper-changing, and more.
Honestly, those classes were informative, well-thought-out and really valuable. Initially.
My lingering cynicism comes from the fact that those particular aspects are sold as simply a nice bonus to their true benefit: the lifetime friends you’ll make.
The Reality of NCT Classes
Ha. Aha, ha, ha. I mean, of course, that may be the case for some lucky people, in fact, I’ve heard these mythical tales myself. But more often I’ve heard of how these ‘friends’, who become incredibly important during one of the most challenging, disruptive, and transcendental periods of your life, can surpass the emotional turmoil of becoming a new parent, by throwing shade during an already vulnerable time.
My personal experience was that these women I believed were friends slowly turned toxic. So when I finally decided I no longer wished to be a part of the WhatsApp group in which I was systematically ignored, I quietly left. No histrionics, no drama - I thought. Sadly, I was being naive and subsequently received one of the vilest message essays I’ve ever had the misfortune of having directed my way. At a time when I was very much in turmoil and struggling with my mental health, I found myself reliving school playground days which I thought I’d left far behind.
When Support Turns to Spite
Of course, that’s just one example - but I’m sorry to say I’ve heard very similar scenarios play out time and again following NCT classes. Why?
I suspect there may be a form of pack mentality at play. Ultimately, some people are just assholes, and assholes will always out themselves, eventually. They sniff each other like dogs and band together and turn on those weaker than themselves.
I cannot believe that this needs saying, as a grown-up, about other grown-ups. But there it is.
Soul Sisters Instead of Soul Destroyers
Naturally, we can’t, won’t - and shouldn’t expect to - get along with everybody we come across in our lives. One of my favorite sayings is that why other people think of you is none of your business. It’s a tough one to make peace with but your happiness will be much-improved once you accept and buy into that life lesson.
It’s something I’ve resisted for much of my adult years, wanting to believe the best of people, wanting to believe that killing with kindness works every time. It doesn’t, and when that’s the case you have to find those soul sisters who have your back and walk away from those who do not.
I never responded to that message. And I still smile to myself now when I think of the venom and energy that silly woman spent crafting an essay that was ignored. It’s the best revenge and you get to retain the moral high ground and your pride.
If you are struggling with feeling alone or isolated, there’s so much support available online, and mom groups where you can choose the people you associate with can be wonderful too.
Don’t waste your precious time on anyone who doesn’t see and appreciate your value - you have impressionable little people watching now, and you’re worth so much more.