OK, so now Ainsley’s in this world and I hate breastfeeding (but I know it’s awesome for her). Writing that post about breastfeeding was cathartic and personal. The love I felt from my breastfeeding post goes is the perfect segway into this one – the importance of your mom tribe. If you don’t have a little human demanding 300% of you, you might not understand how important it is to have others to lean on, but shit – it’s vital to maintaining your sanity. I love my daughter with my entire heart and body and organs. She’s my entire galaxy. But she is exhausting, demanding at times, confusing at other times and sometimes just impossible to please. I don’t fault her for this, she’s a tiny human with no way to communicate and learning things at speeds I could only dream of. But I still need a support system.
Support doesn’t mean agreeing – it literally means to “bear all or part of the weight of; hold up.” That’s what you want in your mom tribe. Someone who will hold you up and cheer you on when you’re one poopy diaper away from losing your shit (ha). My best friend doesn’t have to agree with my panic attack over Ainsley not eating solid food, but she can support me and listen when I melt down.
Becoming a mother was almost like joining a secret society. I entered this whole new world full of diaper creams, nose suckers, noise machines and so many other gadgets. Even my own mom seemed to talk to me like a girlfriend instead of her child when it came to baby-raising things. Instead of motherly advice (which I still ask for), she instead empathizes my being torn between wanting to clean the house during nap time or taking a nap myself, or that I hate being away from Ainsley on the weekends, or understanding that men seem to never wake up with the baby cries.
I’ve got a kick-ass best friend who supports me and cheers me on as a mother and a woman. She’s a phenomenal mother herself and I look at her for advice often. She’s busy with work, a husband, taking care of herself and raising a little human so sometimes it’s just a quick text when we need a high-five. Just last night she texted me to say how happy she was her son ate a salad instead of the usual waffles, cereal or chicken nuggets!
Social media has opened a whole other realm for mom friends. I’ve joined (and left) groups on Facebook. Seems surreal to think someone across the country might be dealing with the same delay in walking or Ainsley’s tiny head size that we’re dealing with – but through social media I can find other moms who experience helps mine, or maybe my experience can help someone else. Recently I recommended non-slip bath tiles to someone who was asking for advice because her kid slipped in the bath.
Internet groups are not always a good thing. We live in a world where everything is literally at our fingertips – the good and bad. You can find yourself down a very deep hole if you don’t watch out. But the nice thing about the internet is you can always leave!
My newest obsession is the One Bad Mother podcast. Every week I listen and feel like I’m chatting with two friends about the shit our kids do or shit our husbands don’t do. (Highly recommend this podcast if you’re into that sort of thing).
I haven’t been able to read many parents books. Just not my thing, but if you feel a sense of community and inclusion by doing so – go for it!
Lastly, get outside! Since becoming parents, my husband and I have both made friends with neighbors who also have kids. This is convenient for drinking and walking home, friends that are close by for Ainsley, and when you literally text someone asking for emergency prune juice!
I still consider myself a new mother with a 16-month old babe. In that short amount of time, I’ve learned who I want to lean on, who I can vent to, who I can confide in. I’ve also learned how to walk away from people who aren’t giving me the support I need and how to close out of an internet group because I felt guilty I couldn’t breastfeed past seven months. Most importantly – follow the golden rule! Give other moms the same support you need. See someone in the grocery store with a kid having a melt down? Give her a smile because we’ve all been there. How about someone who’s struggling to lose baby weight? Tell her she has a rocking bod that GREW A HUMAN! Someone who’s so fucking tired she forget deodorant or lives on dry shampoo? Tell her she’s doing a kick ass job and remind her it won’t always be this exhausting (and maybe give her a stick of deodorant).
My point being – us mamas have to stick together! We’re all strong, but we all need a little support! Whether your kid is a year old or six years old, we can always learn something new and useful. For some reason, judging comes much more naturally to our society than complimenting one another. We’ve all had sleepless nights, teething babies, diaper explosions, high fevers in the middle of the night, bites and bruises, potty accidents… we’ve all been there.
I want to thank those who have been reading this so far, and thank you to those who have given me feedback. This has been really difficult to get out of my comfort zone and share my words with you, but I’ve done it with the support of my mom tribe. YOU’RE ALL FUCKING AWESOME MOMS.