The public schools in town offer Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) classes as a community service. Many of the mamas I talk with refer to these classes, mostly not in a good way. Rather than an opportunity for mamas to come together to share, vent, and support one another, these gatherings thrive on pretense, competition, and judgment.
Personally, I blame the classroom setup with facilitators writing notes about parenting on a blackboard; having the moms discuss questions in small group; and then go around the room to have each mom answer the various questions.
One of the mamas I talked with this morning told me about how the facilitator of her class will have all the mamas begin by sharing this week's joys. This mama looked at me with a dumbfounded look of exasperation in her face; "I had no joys to report last week, none!" What about all the hard days, the challenges, the tedium, the times you snap. What about when what you really feel like, is throwing your baby out of the window? (but you don't, you never would, of course not, but still)
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a facilitator is one who facilitates; especially : one that helps to bring about an outcome (as learning, productivity, or communication) by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, or supervision.
At the local ECFE classes, on the other hand, facilitators take the role of leaders and teachers, asking specific questions, writing the right answer on the board. How is that supposed to make new mamas feel? How is that support to foster a sense of community? It is not "a great way to give your child a rich early childhood experience and meet other families with young children" (ECFE). It's how mamas begin more frequently than not to wear the mask of motherhood.
Apparently, one of the mamas, a woman who also works at the co-op, got up and left the class early in the semester, saying she wouldn't be back till they were also asked about the challenges. My kind of mama.