By Dina Isdanor – Labor doula and Childbirth Educator
I have found my mom village. I am a lucky girl, I know this. I have been asked so many times how I found my village. It is a hard question to answer but the answer, in and of itself, is actually quiet simple. Time and pressure. Yup, just like a diamond but far more precious.
We can, hopefully, all agree that being a mom is the most amazing thing in whole world. It really is. It has made me a better person. Ok, now that I have said that, we can get down to the next layer. Beneath the amazing is the messy truth. Being a mom can push you to your limits, and then, just a little further. It is dirty and messy and can be downright ugly. Some days you will be the Perfect Pinterest mom. You will shower, get out of your yoga pants and wash that mom bun. Hell, you might even put on makeup. You will have pre planned activities, crafts, learning games full of enrichment for your sweet well behaved kids. You will make home made, organic meals and your kids will eat their veggies. These are the moments we share with the world. Then, some days, you will realize it has been 3 (or 5) days since you last showered. You will scrape the back of your ‘frig for something, anything, your kids will eat. Chips and dip will totally count because you bought the “veggie” chips and the dip has avocado (or dairy or whatever you can convince yourself is part of the food groups). These are the days you are the mom you swore you would never be. Too much screen time, junk food and short tempers rule. These are the days you need your mom village. So, where do you find them? The truth is, they are everywhere and they may not be who you expect. You just have to get out there and get in the game. Remember dating? This is the same thing. I jokingly refer to the stages of friendship in terms of what ‘base” you get to. First base are the people you share the good with. The ones who see your posts on Facebook and think you are a supermom everyday. Second base, you invite them to your home but you spend countless hours cleaning and on that day you have only healthy foods visible and your kids are dressed in clothes you approved. Third base, you aren’t wasting time cleaning because they don’t care. You are passed that. Your kids picked their own clothes and you can throw goldfish at them when they complain. Home run moms, these are a rare breed. They can come over unannounced because they already know all your dirty truths. Your kids may or may not have on any clothes at all. They can help themselves because they know where everything is and you may put out popsicles, watermelon and a jug of water so your wildlings can fend for themselves. Treasure the third base and home run moms. They will be your village.
My daughter was four weeks old. I was home and I was struggling. Struggling in ways my SO couldn’t understand. I was hormonal, fearful, self conscious and anxious. I was having trouble breast feeding and I was sure I was doing everything wrong. Failing. He “suggested” (read begged) me to go to “that support group they told us about in the class we took”. Walking into a room full of moms was…..hard. It took everything in me to go. But somewhere, deep down, i knew I needed help. So i did it and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It wasn’t immediate. Like all good things it took time and effort but through that group I have met hundreds (yes, literally) of moms. Some were never a fit. Some, we tried but in the end it “wasn’t them it was me”. Some became great friends, then broke my heart or moved away. It was sometimes defeating. Then, something amazing happened. I looked around and I realized that when everyone else was stripped away, I had created a village. Some had drifted in and out because, well, life happened. Our worlds were spinning in different directions but somehow we always made it back. Some had always been with me. In the trenches, battling the neigh sayers and doubts in my own mind. They don’t always know each other. Real life isn’t a sitcom. We don’t all live in the same neighborhood or frequent the same coffee shop. I was surprised some of them lasted. We parent differently. We are very different people. Yet, somehow, when i couldn’t clean up one more mess, answer one more question, give one more snuggle because i had been touched constantly for 12+ hours, these were the woman who pulled me up, made me laugh, took my kid and restored my sanity. They are my village because they were there to celebrate my joys with me, but more importantly, they overlooked and accepted me at my worst.
So, get out there and “date” other moms. it is way easier than real dating because you always have someone who loves you and has your side at home (even if it is just your kids) and you never have to shave. You may get let down a few times but do it anyway. It is worth it. It will always be worth it.