Local Gatherings Let New Mothers Share Food, Company, and Anxiety
By Kiratiana Freelon on February 19, 2013 8:14am
CARROLL GARDENS — Walk into Beth Gibson’s living room on a Thursday, around 11 a.m., and you’ll find six women and their babies, all of whom have never met. Seated at a table covered with food prepared by Gibson, these women may not know each other, but they do have one thing in common.
They’re all new mothers.
Seven years ago, after Gibson’s two children were born, she realized her social life was waning, she said. To this end, she invited six close friends over to her house once a week. These “socials” grew and Gibson began asking each friend to bring someone new to the group every week.
As she began planning the luncheons for local neighborhood mothers, she started to expand to other groups of people, like British people living in New York or working mothers in the neighborhood. Soon, the events became a part of her business, PLOT, and she began charging $25 a person.
It’s about “good food, good people, and making new friends,” said Gibson, who prepares dishes like portobello soup and winter kale salad with blood orange, dried cherries and pistachios, for the meetings.
Born in England, Gibson, 43, moved to New York over 20 years ago. She started PLOT as a garden design and maintenance business, which she still continues, along with handmade garden products.
But Gibson’s gatherings, like her ‘New Mums’ event, are not just about food and drink. She said she tries to reach out to people who really need it and she also brings in health professionals so anxious new mothers can openly discuss their worries.
Dr. Katerina Silverblatt, a pediatrician who has spoken at some of Gibson’s socials, said she sees new mothers “thriving” when they’re a part of social groups.
These days, said Silverblatt, "doctors are pushed to see more and more patients in less and less time” so many mothers feel like they have a limited space to ask all their questions.
The children’s doctor added that many New York mothers don’t have the additional support of family nearby so they’re often anxious, especially about non-medical questions.
How long do you swaddle the child? What detergent should I use? How do you find a nanny? Are they spitting up enough? Are they spitting up too much?
For first time mothers, “when you have a baby.. everything is a social anxiety,” said Silverblatt, who practices at Heights Pediatrics in Brooklyn Heights. “They don’t know what is normal.”
New mothers find it very reassuring when they see other mothers with the same baby-related issues, she added.
While these socials have evolved over the years, they remain a way for new people to meet, socialize, share stories and good food, said Gibson.
“It’s about the experience,” said Gibson. “All of a sudden, your day is brightened.”