When I became a mom almost 3 years ago, I had not a freaking clue what I was doing. If you've perused this blog, I'm sure you've gained that sense. You also might conclude that even after all this time, I still have no idea what I'm doing.
You would be concluding correctly.
I've always said that there are some people who seem BORN to be parents. They are so good with kids. They have a knack for how to handle most any situation that might arise in a child's life. For every question you ask, they are a solid and reputable answer.
I am just not one of these people.
For me, entering into the world of parenthood was like getting punched in the face. 10 times. I had no idea what to expect and no idea what I was doing. At the time, I had only a handful of other friends with kids, and most of them (save one) were spread far and wide. Despite the fact that the Mom Club has millions and billions of card-carrying members, I felt isolated and alone.
To cope, I started seeking other people out. It began out of necessity. With absolutely no knowledge of how to care for a newborn, I was overloaded with questions. Logging onto Facebook, I started to message any mom on my friends list with my questions.
"She won't stop crying! What do I do?"
"How can I get her to sleep?"
"How often is she supposed to eat?"
"Is it ok if her poop is orange?"
"How much spit up is too much spit up?"
"When will I stop being so tired?" (note: HA)
Mom friends came out of the woodwork to my rescue. Answers came bit by bit, and as time went on, I got the hang of things. But my initial act of reaching out had started something in my life. It occurred to me that many of these people who came knocking with answers had been just a relationship on Facebook. Perhaps an old high school classmate or friend of a friend. Suddenly, they were more than just a status update for me to read.
They were my Sisters in Motherhood.
Cheesy, I know.
But so true! Like me, these women had shared the unique yet common experience of being responsible for another human life. They had toiled like I had through the murky waters of Motherhood. We'd been humbled by our lack of know-how, learning on the go as our kids grew. Some had gone before me, and others were just entering the Club. Yet, we all learned from each other. Knowing that there were other people out there, just a keystroke away, bridged the distance and filled the void.
I was not alone.
And it felt good.
As my daughter grew, more mothers came into my life. Many of my friends began to have children, and I met some amazing mothers along the way through local happenings, such as Storytime. Even after just meeting another Mom, I feel a connection with her. She's a Mom. She's part of the Club.
There is something so completely therapeutic about getting together with a bunch of other moms. As we watch our kids play (and fight and spill food on the floor and get into trouble and not share their toys), it is inevitable that questions get thrown around ("When is it ok to start giving him peanut butter? Does anyone else's child scream every time you try to give them a bath? She only ate a little bit of dirt - that's ok, right?"). One Mom pipes up with a recent "I Can't Believe My Child Did This" story, and we laugh (as long as enough time has elapsed from the usually traumatic event). And over the course of several hours (and a multitude of "put that down!", "you have to SHARE your toys!", "don't EAT that!", and "who raised you, wolves?!?"), we commiserate over the victories and hardships of the daily life that is being a Mom.
We all need people. Even if you have it all together, my friend, you need people. At the end of the day, you need another Mom to laugh with when your child has an ongoing meltdown in Stride Rite during a shoe fitting. We want people to turn to when our pregnancy hits scary medical bumps and we are frightened beyond belief. We are grateful for the kind soul who swoops in to distract our child who is frantically fussing at the grocery checkout, and with one shared look, you know she's been there too. We bask in having a group of woman who will not judge you when you ask, "Is it too early to have a glass of wine?"
If there is one thing I would tell a new Mom she absolutely needs, even beyond diapers, wipes and sleep, it is COMMUNITY. Ask questions on Facebook! Register for a (usually free!) Storytime at your local library! Take a Mommy and Me class! Join a faith-based group or study! Try out a program at the Y with your child! Heck, start a conversation with another Mom at the grocery store. Reach out to the other Mom's in your life - even if you don't know them well. Chances are, you have more in common than you think.
Even now, there is not a week that goes by where I don't post some parenting question on Facebook, looking to other mothers for an answer. And in the dialogue of answers that follow, as 15 other Mom's chime in, Community is born.
And we are not alone.
Friends, I still don't have it all together. Most days I still have NO idea what I am doing. But I am no longer alone. Some may think I am crazy, perhaps insecure or needy, with all my question-asking and advice-seeking. My answer to them? I need people. I need other Moms. Because this is one job that we shouldn't have to do alone.
What does your "Community of Moms" look like in your life (Facebook? Play group? Happy hour?)? What do you love most about it? What does having a community of other moms mean to you?
Leave a comment to share with the rest of us!