My kids are no longer babies. They are 8, 6, and 2. We are in the busy phase of parenting. Homework, gymnastics, dance, softball, religious school, doctor’s appointments, playdates, birthday parties, parent teacher conferences. And yet we are still in the terrific (?) twos with the little one. Throwing food, throwing toys in the toilet, throwing remote controls across the room, throwing books (are you sensing a theme?).
Something I found incredibly important in the early days of parenting (might I say, life-saving), that continues to be something I cannot mother without, was support. Aside from a really great nursing bra, the best support I got was from the moms I met at a new mom’s group in the next town over.
It took all the courage I had in the world to walk through that door. I picked out the cutest outfit for my baby girl, put on my cleanest black yoga pants and least-smelly sweatshirt, packed my amazing orange Vera Bradley diaper bag, and off I went. I was early…(I am always early…hello anxiety) and found a spot on the floor while I waited for the room to fill. Before I knew it there was a circle of moms who all had put on their cleanest black yoga pants and least-smelly sweatshirts. Each mom introduced herself and shared a bit about her experiences with her new baby.
There was this moment where I felt like my story was coming out of these other mouths. The stories of mothers who felt like they had no clue what they were doing. Who did not anymore know how to navigate their marriages, relationships with family, old friendships, even themselves. To learn to live in a life of fluctuating hormones, added and uneven household responsibilities, very little sleep. I wanted to jump up and down and yell “ME TOOOOOO!”. Could it be? Was I not alone?
What a feeling! Relief. I had found my people.
Nowadays I am beyond all of that. I survived, and I have come out the other side. It was hard, exhausting, seemingly never ending. Childbirth, nursing, cleaning bottles, changing diapers, finger painting, play dough, board books, sleepless nights, sickness, tantrums, sooo much laundry (especially when I went through my cloth diapering phase).
I like to think that postpartum starts at birth and lasts for the rest of my life as a mother…but the rest of the world doesn’t view it that way. So now I find my people at elementary school birthday parties, on neighborhood bike rides, and local social media groups. But man I wish I could meet with a bunch of moms and discuss how to navigate this world of 8 year olds. But only if we could wear our best black yoga pants and least-smelly sweatshirts.