Like other mums around the world in the past two years, Breane Chapman experienced motherhood for the first time in an unusual way. Giving birth to Jasper in early July 2021, just a few days after Sydney lockdowns were announced, she and her husband spent their first three months of parenthood isolated from family and friends.
Looking back, Breane can see some aspects of those challenging times as blessings in disguise. “For example, not feeling any pressure to go out, see people, or meet others’ expectations in those early weeks and months was very freeing. If I didn’t brush my hair, it didn’t matter.”
But other aspects she describes as heartbreakingly difficult. “It was just my husband and I managing our newborn with no extra help like I had imagined. And our son was already three months old when most of our close family and friends were finally able to meet him.”
The lockdowns also made it difficult for Breane to connect with other mums as the hospital didn’t allocate her a mothers’ group due to the restrictions.
Going through this challenging experience and feeling the need to have a community to belong to in this new stage of life, Breane felt inspired to do something for herself and many other mums in a similar situation. She decided to start a mums’ group in her area.
“The goal was simple: make connections and have some other babies my son could play with and get to know. I also felt like I wanted to be able to connect with other mums on a more spiritual level, which I knew probably wouldn’t happen so freely with a randomly allocated group via the hospital.”
She approached her pastor with the idea of starting the mothers’ group through their local church, and he suggested joining Mums at the Table (MATT).
“Once I realized what a great digital space they provide for mums, becoming a moderator just seemed like the most logical step,” she said, referring to the online platforms and a Facebook group with a community of more than 10,000 mums from all around Australia and New Zealand.
As a group moderator, Breane helps the local MATT Upper North Shore Facebook group run smoothly by accepting member requests and posts and finding and sharing relatable content to get conversations happening in the group. “What I love best about it is being able to share real and relevant content that I come across to help group members feel comfortable sharing,” she says. “Vulnerability breeds vulnerability, so it’s a privilege to offer it up first as a moderator.”
Running meetups every week since Sydney lockdowns were lifted in October 2021, she says that partnering with MATT allowed her to connect with mums in the local community, “which was like a giant fast forward to my ultimate dream for my mums’ group!
“Because they already have an online presence, it’s been so easy to meet mums from the community. I just post in our Facebook group each week, and they come along! Some have even come to our kids’ Sabbath School a few times,” she says.
In each meeting, Breane tries to keep things simple, focusing on connecting naturally with the other mums over a hot drink and biscuits while watching their children play.
“Our mothers’ group has become a safe place to share how we are feeling, how our week is going, and the highs and lows of motherhood. It’s really refreshing to hear ‘Me too!’ and ‘Oh, this was tough for us also’ when sharing with the mums about my week.”
In running a MATT group, Breane finds and provides support while sharing the love of Jesus.
“Becoming a mother has been the most unreal experience, and a big rollercoaster ride — which I feel has diminished some of my capacity to serve in the ways I used to before having my son. Having said this, the stability of this group, meeting with these women who so generously share their lives with me has been a bright spot in what can sometimes be a challenging week,” she says.