This is part one in an ongoing series I'm taking part of- #TogetherWeMother. I'm joining up with ten other mothers to share our collective experiences on a monthly topic. I'm really excited to be a part of this, and I hope you'll check out all of the other posts too! I'll link them below.
When I was pregnant with Henry I remember hearing the phrase "it takes a village" and not really connecting with it. What do you mean a village? There I was stressing about how breastfeeding would work or how I would ever sleep again, or even just imagining giving birth to this child, that I couldn't imagine how anyone else would ever play a role in a raising my baby. It seemed complicated enough trying to figure out to even integrate our immediate family into the hospital room post-birth. So imagining a village? No. I knew I had my people- the women I'd grown up with over the years, my best friends from college, the ones I'd text in the middle of the night- "Are you up? 8 months pregnant is no joke- I can't sleep!" and they'd be right there across the line, offering up their own anecdotes, laughter, tears. Those were and still are my people, but unfortunately we were far away from each other, with just phones and the internet to keep us connected between visits. But as time went on, I realized the value in having that support right there in person, too.
I had moved to Prescott years earlier, thanks to meeting Hank, and had wonderful friends I met through him and teaching, but once I became pregnant for the first time I started to worry I didn't have any "Mom friends." We live in a small town so I worried even more it wouldn't be possible to find "my people," let alone my people who also happened to be first time expectant Moms. And that's not to say that you need to only be friends with those who share your same storyline, but I recognized then that I was missing that in my life, and there were times while pregnant I would feel sad knowing that I didn't have anyone right there who knew exactly what I was experiencing.
Time went on, and Henry was born. I didn't feel like anything was missing, because I had our friends and family surrounding us, but when Hank went back to work and I was home alone with Henry all day, sometimes I would think how nice it would be to have my people right there. So I kept putting myself out there. I would take Henry to storytime at the library, music class at a local church, walks downtown. I'm good on my own, and I wasn't actively seeking friendship, but I felt like the best thing to do was to stay open. And one day at the library, I spotted a tall blonde, with a little boy around Henry's age sitting in a stroller. She looked so sweet and when our mutual friend introduced us, I immediately knew we'd be friends.
Fast forward to five years later and that meeting in the library has turned into one of the most cherished friendships in my life! It's amazing how that happens- you meet one person and then meet another, and suddenly you have a little group. We were all new Moms, all figuring everything out together, and our daily walks and talks and playdates were exactly what I needed.
But trying to pinpoint a moment where I realized I needed this in-person, physical village? It's hard. I don't often think about it, but sometimes I'm hit so hard with the love I have for these women who have become such a big part my family's life. It's years of building relationships, sharing experiences, going through things together. It's having my second baby, and seeing their faces in my hospital room, or at our house days later. It's the meals dropped off, the texts to check in, the "get your butt out here and walk right now" when I got quiet and sad after having him. It's going through terrible life events- sick parents and death- and knowing you have these women to lean on. It's dropping your kids off in a pinch and never ever having the feeling that you owe them something- it's just what you do for each other. It's long walks talking about everything, our stroller wheels crunching over Fall leaves as we stroll around the square. It's weekend excursions and family dinners and after school playdates. It's texting each other saying "Today is the WORST day" and knowing it's safe to be vulnerable and real and let it out. It's the "me toos" and "been theres" and it's knowing that I have these women behind me, cheering me on, lifting me up, and doing the same for them.
Regardless of where you find it, having a team is important. It's so hard to be in a new place, trying to meet new people. It's tiring thinking about starting over with new friends, right? Believe me, I've been there. I'm no expert, but if I could impart anything I've learned from my own experience it would be to get out there! Sign up for everything. Mommy and me yoga, prenatal yoga, music class, Stroller Strides, anything related to your interests. I guarantee there are other parents there who also would love to meet like-minded new friends. But most of all, be yourself. Like attracts like, so if you want to connect with those who will best connect with you, there's nothing better than being exactly who you are. You'll find your people, I promise.
Be sure to check out the inspiring women also taking part in this project, and read their posts: