I was a bad mentor

I just remembered something.

I was a mentor mom to another mom of twins. And I sucked at it.

I joined my moms of multiples club way back when I was a mere ten weeks pregnant with my girls. I came home from my first meeting reeling with a sense of community in this exclusive society, and also a feeling of blatant fear. Images of double strollers and massive breast feeding pillows swirled in my head along with visions of colicky babies and cracked nipples.

In those days of pregnancy and the first year with twins, I lived for that group of women. When I was admitted to the hospital on long term bed rest, another mom of twins knocked on my door to say hi, hearing I was laid up. When I posted on the online forum that I was burdened by guilt, sure that it was my fault that my body was failing me, other moms responded in droves with their support and virtual hugs. The depression kept me from wanting visitors, but those words meant so much to me in my time of need.

When I heard there was a mentor program, I jumped on that wagon like a college kid lines up for a keg. I had started to make friends with other moms with multiples my age, but how awesome to have someone who had been there and lived to tell about it? Someone who had also delivered preemies, been through the NICU, and lived the life of a stay at home mom with no one to talk to but two infants, and lets face it — they don’t exactly provide riveting conversation.

When I was assigned my mentor, I was excited, but there were some let downs. She was a preemie mom, but hers were micro preemies born at 26 weeks. She had survived the NICU, but at a much more tedious level. She was a working mom, I was staying at home. Although the program aimed to set moms up with someone similar to them, it seemed like the two of us were missing a lot of would be points of similarity.

I had wanted someone who would check in with me regularly. Someone who could provide that support before I knew I needed it, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. She was a busy mom of four with a demanding full time job. When I sent her a question, I found that many of our styles didn’t quite mesh. My girls were born 9 weeks early, so a lot of our developments were delayed about two months. We sleep trained at 5 months instead of the suggested 3 or 4. We started solids at 7 months instead of the suggested 4 our 5. Her own children dealt with delays as well, but much more drastic than mine. Her suggestions aligned with her guidelines — it was what she knew. But they didn’t work for me.

Our mentoring relationship trailed off quickly. There were no hard feelings; it just happened. I was forging my way with my babies successfully with the help of my new twin mom friends and the online forums. Before long I found myself asking fewer questions and answering more from the moms who were in the stage of pregnancy, coping with life in the NICU, or in the thick of life at home with two newborns, not knowing if they are coming or going.

That’s when I decided I would be a bad ass mentor.

I loved answering questions and giving advice, both solicited and unsolicited. I had so much experience just in my 16 months of being a mom, surely someone could benefit from my expertise!

When the program put out another call for mentors, I hopped on board. I couldn’t wait to see who the recipient of all of my wisdom would be.

When I got my mentee, I was excited! It was someone I had actually met!

And then I got distracted by, oh the fact that I WAS PREGNANT AGAIN, and I totally forgot to introduce myself as her mentor mom.

Awesome first impression.

But I did swallow my shame and reach out to her, and we exchanged emails back and forth. She unloaded some of her issues; I gave her pep talks and basically rocked this whole mentor mom thing like a boss. I even offered to take her a meal since she admitted that her most hectic time was trying to get dinner on the table while caring for her twins and two older children. I know how much I would have appreciated a meal delivery in those days.

And then I never took her a meal.

I’d like to think that it was the new found pregnancy brain mixed with 16 month old twins, but I’m starting to think I just kind of suck at this whole being a mentor thing. I began to think, “She doesn’t need me . There doesn’t seem to be much I can do for her.”

That’s where I was dead wrong.

Before I became a mentor, I relayed my frustrations with my experience to another member of our club. She admitted that she too had the same issues with the program. She later found out that her mentor mom told someone, “Jenny has it all figured out! She didn’t need me!” 

The truth was she did need her. Maybe she didn’t need detailed breast feeding instructions or help with feeding and nap schedules. But she needed someone to be there. Someone to pop in and say “Thinking about you! How are you and the babies?” It’s what I needed, and I’m sure it’s what my mentee needed. I think we would all appreciate that type of thoughtfulness once in a while.

But we get caught up in our lives, our activities, our goings on. I sometimes find myself living in a bubble. Someone asks me, “How is Prudence adjusting to her new normal?” and I have to quickly flip through my mental rolodex and try to figure out what exactly it is about Prudence that needed adjusting. Then I remember that she just had a baby and I haven’t even checked in on her, save a quick “Congrats!” on her Facebook wall.

Communications between my mentee and I quickly fizzled. I started to realize how hard it was to be there for someone else when I had so much going on in my real life. I thought I wanted to be someone’s rock in their time of need, but I had a life of my own, as did she, and they rarely ran parallel to each other. I realize how much a quick “How’s it going?” would have meant to her in those days. Now that I do have a little more time to be there for someone, I can’t remember a damn thing about those painfully sleep deprived days anyway.

If I learned anything from my experience as a mentor mom, and a mom who needed mentoring, it’s that we all like to know that others are thinking of us. Maybe you’re looking for a new job and have an interview coming up. Maybe you have a new baby at home and would like to talk to someone who doesn’t eject bodily fluids on you every 5 minutes. It’s just nice to be thought of, isn’t it?

So tell me. Have YOU checked in on someone lately?

 

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20 Comments

  1. Oooh my.
    I am “sort of” in the twins club near me, but truthfully, it gets too much. Yes, we all have twins, but how many times do I need to hear their birth stories. Your twins are 11! HAHA.

    The support is good though. I have made one FANTASTIC friend that I met in the twins birthing class. We’z like 2 peas in a pod… with 4 kids in tow 🙂

    1. I met one of my dearest friends when she was across the hall from me in the hospital. Her boys are 4 days older than my girls, and until she moved to another town, they had pretty much grown up together. We would bounce things off of each other ALL the time. The club was invaluable to me in those early days, but now I think I’m on my way out! I hardly ever participate anymore.

        1. Oh, you were my saving grace in those days, and still are. *I’m* the one who needs to check in more. Completely unrelated, how are you doing? 😉

  2. I’m very bad about checking in on people who aren’t communicating where I can see it. I’m also bad for months at a time about checking different social media. (I fell off G+ for about 4 months there, but I’m back on. For right now, anyway.)

    But if someone pops up, I’ll be there. Today I’m having lunch with someone I saw Saturday, for the first time in at least 6 months.

    (If you need me and you have my cell number, the best thing to do is just send me a text. I’ll respond as soon as I reasonably can.)

  3. I read this last night on my phone just before I went to bed, and I think I was dreaming about bringing meals to new moms. In fact, there is one I need to call promptly! Great post. Now I feel a little less guilty about slacking off in some of my relationships too…

  4. What a great reminder my friend.
    You are a wonderful friend and we all get busy with our own lives.
    It’s understandable why you drifted away.

    1. I do try. I wish that everyone knew (you included) that I’m *thinking* of them. I just fail at that step of actually taking action on it.

  5. I feel like I check in on people to see how they are and keep in touch but others don’t do the same with me. It’s very hard being a twin mom well any mom for that matter. When I have time to get together with “friends” they are always busy with their kids/family.

    I was in the twin mom club here for almost a year but my husbands work schedule got in the way so I had to quit. I miss the adult interaction and women that actually got what it’s like being a mom of multiples.

    1. I always encourage moms to stay in the club even if they’re busy, because we have a rather active online forum. We have tons of members that never even make it to meetings or activities, but being able to get answers from other moms online is priceless.

  6. I’m also terrible about checking with people, especially in this digital age when it’s so easy to keep up with people via Facebook. When someone has a baby, I wish them congratulations but rarely do I check in with them in person or bring them a meal. It’s shameful, really. And the more time I spend online, the more I realize that it’s so important not to let your real life and get eclipsed by your virtual ones.

    Now I just need to practice what I preach.

    1. Me too! I sometimes get all huffy because no one calls me, and if I have something to talk about, it’s always “Oh yeah, I read that on your blog/Facebook/whatever.” But then again I don’t ever call anyone either. I hate talking on the phone.

      1. I hate talking on the phone, as well. There’s exactly one person in the world I actually like to talk with on the phone, and she called me, really, really needing to talk one evening last year, when it was just a really bad week for me — and I was able to give her what she needed, despite everything that was going badly for me right then. That’s one of those things I can point to to tell myself, “See, I don’t TOTALLY suck!”

        I’m pretty good about returning texts, though….

  7. No! I’m sucking as a mentor!!! I wrote a post yesterday about one area where I’ve failed- helping a member mom- but with my ‘buddy’ I’m really blowing. I felt like we didn’t click at all. I honestly don’t know what to do about it either.

    Thanks for writing this- I felt like the only one!

    1. We do what we can. I’ve found that we can’t force these relationships. While some had great results from the mentor program, a lot didn’t. But we all found our “group” within the club and that’s what got us through those days.

  8. Interesting! I like the idea of a “mentor mom.” And also—nice reminder to check in with people . . . “mentees” or not.

    1. It’s a great idea in theory, but I think that moms really need to gravitate to their own people. The friends I made were much more valuable to me.

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