Occasionally motherhood makes me feel like a crazy person. I’m often convinced that I’m the only woman in the world who has ever felt the way I do about my children until another mom says, “Oh no, I definitely feel that way too.” It’s doubly confirming when it’s coming from a mom with almost grown kids because it assures me that I (probably) won’t go permanently crazy from chaos that surrounds our normal routine.
One of my volleyball girls recently started babysitting my boys about once a month and in the middle of January Justin and I found ourselves sitting in a booth at a pizza place having an uninterrupted conversation that spanned the upcoming inauguration, our ongoing ball seasons, and how weird it was that we weren’t being interrupted. That was some of the best pizza I’ve ever eaten, but I’m not sure I would have noticed either way because we were alone for a few blissful hours. That helps center my marriage and I was ready to jump back into mothering with both feet when we picked up the boys.
We need to date our husbands, go to doctor appointments, drink the coffee while it’s still hot occasionally. We need to remember that we are women with skills and abilities as well as mamas. We need to offer our life experiences to women younger than us and we need to learn from those who are older than us. We need other women (not just mamas) to love on our kids and we need to love on other women’s kids.
Motherhood is glorious, most of the time. But it’s also hard. I’ve discovered that it’s easier when you don’t try to do it alone. Motherhood (and womanhood) is best when you are surrounded by other women who support and encourage you on your journey. Is this ever a perfect picture? Not in my experience. It’s always easy to find the holes in your circles and some life circumstances can mean you have a lot of holes. But as you journey through motherhood, journey toward filling your circle too.
Filling your circle usually starts by filling in a gap in someone else’s. It’s too easy to go through life looking for what you need instead of looking at what others need. That might mean offering to keep a friend’s baby (or toddlers!) while she goes to an appointment or works for a few hours. I have a friend who has three kids who gladly lets my three boys stay with her while I go to OB appointments. You should be able to guess how much that means to me.
It can look like scheduling playdates and offering to feed everyone lunch so that your mama friend can put everyone down for naps when they get home. It might be being on baby call if your doula friend has an expecting client. It might mean dropping off food when a family is swamped with illness. In any situation, you’re going to extend yourself a little- or a lot.
Let’s step up to the plate for each other, ladies. Let’s text and encourage one another. Let’s send funny memes and stop by with coffee. Let’s send facebook messages with links to favorite podcast episodes. Let’s sneak out after the kids are tucked in bed and either talk about motherhood trials or discuss all our dreams that have nothing to do with diapers. Let’s say “me too” when a mama shares an experience instead of trying to have it all together. Let’s offer the experience that we have to help a friend’s struggles. Let’s celebrate together, cry together, get up and try again together.
Let’s offer ourselves and our time and our resources in whatever way we can to the women that surround us. We mamas need community. We will find it by being it.