It Takes a Village

September 26, 2018

Being a mom is tough. It’s amazing and fulfilling and really, really hard sometimes. The first two and a half months after having Desi and being home on my own were fine; we were finding our rhythm, getting used to this new way of life, and I was still recovering from surgery, so I wasn’t comfortable leaving the house on my own with a fragile baby. Our days were roughly the same, and I focused on taking it easy. But by the time Desi was 3 months old, I was going stir crazy. Our schedule was a bit all over the place, Desi was still at the age where he slept a lot during the day and couldn’t really play or do much, so there wasn’t much I felt I could do, either. I somehow got it in my head, though, that by not going out, not doing activities, not creating these Pinterest worthy moments for him, I was letting him down, I wasn’t doing my job, I was being lazy, I was failing, again. I was constantly beating myself up, not taking into consideration we were still in the “fourth trimester,” and it was starting to affect my mental health, so I knew I needed to make a change. At first, I just started doing little outings in our neighborhood: short walks, quick trips to the grocery store, and, if naptimes allowed, storytime at the library. It helped; it broke up the monotony of the day, forced me to get dressed and feel human again, and made me feel like I was being proactive in exposing Desi to the world and providing him with enriching experiences. I felt great, I was doing a good job. But after a month or so, I started getting in my head again: I wasn’t doing enough, every day was the same, I was failing.

Burkley has always been my biggest supporter, and every time I talked to him about how I was feeling, usually after a minor breakdown with tears running down my face, he’d assure me I was doing a great job, I was doing more than enough, but it didn’t always feel like he really got it. He wasn’t doing anything wrong, his days just looked very different than mine, so he couldn’t truly understand. He went to work every day and interacted with people, fixed problems, worked on something tangibly productive. That’s not to say what I was doing wasn’t productive; I was keeping our child alive, happy, thriving, that’s pretty productive, but after the fourth hour long nursing session on the couch, it doesn’t feel like you’re doing much, and when the one person you spend your days with has no language skills yet, it’s hard to get reassurance that actually breaks through your own self doubt.

Motherhood is lonely, especially when you’re a stay at home mom who doesn’t really have any friends with kids or who are home during the day. It took me a while to realize it, but that’s where the root of my problem was. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do it alone. Humans are a social species, we need community, and at that moment, I was seriously lacking in it. It was just me, my baby, and, on evenings and weekends, my husband. I may have been providing enriching experiences for Desi, but I was forgetting about myself and my own needs. That was the next change I needed to make. 

I started reaching out to other stay at home moms in the area, through social media and apps designed to connect moms (the fact that those existed should have clued me in to the fact that I wasn’t alone in this feeling). I started finding other moms that I had a lot in common with, and as we talked more, got to know each other more, and started hanging out together, we all recognized we were having the same problem, and we all started to notice a shift. We still had our tough days, we still questioned ourselves, we still had breakdowns here and there when we had really overwhelming days/nights/weeks. But this time, in addition to the support from our significant others, we also had the support of a community of women who were going through the same things, who could offer advice where applicable, and, often most meaningfully, true and sincere understanding. We no longer felt alone. 

“It takes a village.” We had found ours.

To any moms out there going through something similar, the single best piece of advice I can offer you is to reach out to other moms. We get it, and just knowing you have someone to talk to who really does get it makes a huge difference, day to day, and long term. If you don’t yet know any other moms, feel free to reach out to me, join some Facebook groups, or try out apps like Peanut or MeetUp to find local moms and/or mom groups. I promise, it helps. 

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