The 5 Stages of Mom Group Breakup—with wine pairings!

Breakups are tough, especially when they’re friend breakups. Here are the stages of grief paired with the perfect wines for getting you through one.

Photo by: djukami

Finding a mom group can be a very important piece of parenthood. These women could be the people you turn to in a moment of crisis, small or large. They’re the ones who have your back, the ones who remind you that you are enough when you’re feeling spread way too thin between work, motherhood, and the Internet’s need to tell you that you need to be making your kid bento box lunches every day.

These women will encourage you to treat yourself after a long week of sacrificing your lunch break for pumping alone in your office. Maybe one will mail you actual snacks when they find out you keep sucking at feeding yourself. They’re the ones who will validate your feelings of frustration with the gender disparity when it comes to the expectations suggested to men versus the ones demanded of women in parenthood. They’re ladies who will tell you you are doing OK. They are your rocks, your touch-stones, your anchors.

But the thing about mom groups is that they’re very much like churches–the group has a doctrine, a shared set of basic tenets that brought you together in the first place, communal opinions on breastfeeding, co-sleeping, attachment parenting, education, the list goes on and on.

And, just like churches, mom groups can also experience splits.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of church splits, allow me a brief diversion: a church split can occur for many reasons. In my experience, they have happened when people fundamentally decide they disagree on a major thing, so major they can no longer all continue as they have gone, and so they split into two. Either one group leaves to form a new church or that group dissolves entirely and everyone goes their separate ways. It is a painful process, as anyone who’s experience a church split can attest. After all, you get very comfortable thinking you’re simpatico with a group of people, and when you find out you’re not, that’s tough.

It’s even more painful when one of your favorite friends is on the other side of a split in your group.

Recently, my own mom group went through such a split. What we split over, specifically, is irrelevant, really. Imagine you and your friends had a large disagreement over something you feel strangely about. Then imagine one of your close friends left the group because of it.

This sort of thing happens, and it’s a small social death that’s not often discussed. All I can tell you is that when such a large split happens and people break away and leave, it can be hard to process. It feels like a breakup.

And what better way to deal with a breakup than to nurse your feelings with the right wine along each step of your journey towards healing! Drink up, sister!

Stage 1: Denial

Your thoughts: This person isn’t going to leave! They couldn’t possibly leave! They’re a staple in the group! It’s a phase. People are all going to be upset for awhile until the disagreement blows over, but then things are going to work themselves out, and everything’s going to be fine. I refuse to believe my group could break apart.

Wine pairing: Planeta Rosé: a light rosé for rose-colored glasses! All is rosy, pink, and sweet in the world.

Stage 2: Anger

Your thoughts: Why did they have to leave? The group was so much better when they were around! Now nothing will ever be the same, and it’s not fair! I needed them around, and now they’ve just up and left. Why is this happening? Can’t we all get along? It’s not right that we can fall apart so easily! Somebody should campaign for them to come back, people just need to apologize and move on! I am angry that things got to this point!

Wine pairing: Greyhaven Wine’s Pinotage. Described as bold, peppery, and spicy, this wine is a good balm for emotions burning hot.

Stage 3: Bargaining

Your thoughts: Maybe if I say X or Y, they’ll decide to stay. We can change! We can cope with our differences! If we all make a pact to never, ever talk about Z topic again, we can pretend none of this ever happened, and things can go back to the way they were–practically perfect in every way! I want to put things back to the way they were before and I’ll do anything to make it happen–what will it take to get them back?

Wine pairing: Adriano Adami Vigneto Giardino Prosecco. This bubbly vintage will boost your optimistic spirit as you soldier on.

Stage 4: Depression

Your thoughts: The group isn’t the same without them. Nothing will ever be the same again. I should just quit. This whole concept of mom groups is fundamentally flawed and doomed to eventual dissolution–why bother getting close to anyone at all in a setting like this? I feel sullen, sad, and may cry a little to a possibly-bewildered partner over an increasingly alarming amount of wine.

Wine pairing: Boxed Franzia. Nuff said.

Stage 5: Acceptance

Your thoughts: OK. Things are different. But life can still go on. They left because it was best for them. We can still be friends. Things will be OK.

Wine pairing: Pomagria sangria. Pomegranates are symbols of rebirth and renewal. Your mom group is going to be fine. Different, a little emptier, but fine.

You can stay, and there will be new people, and while that hole will always be there, you also can make new friends, too. There will always be new moms to meet.

Mom groups have their place, and they’re most useful when you are feeling at your most vulnerable. As you gain your footing as a parent, their importance in your life can shift. And that’s OK. A life that stays static isn’t the goal. Growth is the goal. That’s what helping our kids grow up is all about.

I love my mom group. But experiencing a dramatic, painful split also helped me refocus on what’s ultimately important: friendship, self care, and being the best parent I can be. People change, and their needs and desires shift with time. It happens in friendships, it happens with colleagues, it happens with spouses. But even when that happens, as seems inevitable with a mom group, it’s OK to acknowledge the pain while also looking at it as part of the life cycle of a relationship.

The good can stay with you, even if things change. So hang onto the good.

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Hayley DeRoche

Hayley DeRoche is a librarian with a penchant for cardigans and corduroys. Luckily, her professional life revolves more around technology & information than fashion.

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