I had spent so many years trying to get pregnant that I never really gave much thought to what life after pregnancy would be like, let alone who my mama village would be comprised of. (For the back story, read more about my struggle with infertility.)
Fast forward to life today: we are blessed to have not one but two beautiful daughters…Nugget is 2 and Peanut is 10 months old. Life with two under two has definitely been filled with lots of fun, challenges, and surprises (read about my adventures in tandem nursing, how to deep clean or going places with two!).
The biggest surprise of all?
My mama village isn’t who I expected it would be.
For the longest time, I felt like I didn’t even have a mama village.
Both of our mothers are deceased. I never imagined going through motherhood without my mother being a part of it. I also never imagined life without grandmothers for my children. It saddens me and it’s something I’m trying accept. I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit envious of those who have their mothers! (But we are so grateful to have both grandpas!)
The rest of our extended family either cannot help (due to geography or health issues) or do not offer to.
Many of my friendships have changed after I had babies. I rarely see or talk to many friends and colleagues now. Life as a SAHM (stay at home mom) kind of swallowed me whole.
Hubs helps as much as he can when he isn’t working 10-12 hour shifts. The rest of the time, it’s all me.
Much of my journey to motherhood has been filled with joy…but it’s been very lonely and isolating, too.
I was angry at my lack of a mama village.
Sounds silly, but it’s true. How can you be angry at something that isn’t even there? Who am I even mad at? Am I allowed to feel this way or should I be ashamed and just be grateful for my babies?
Is motherhood really this hard? Is it hard because they are so young and because there are two of them? Or is it just hard regardless? Am I meant to feel so alone? So overwhelmed? Are we meant to have villages? Or is this the way it is in first world nations?
I accepted that my vision of my mama village is not what I thought it would be.
The first thing I had to do was stop making excuses for people.
One of the most important lessons I learned in therapy was: people make time for what they want to make time for.
Let that sink in for a moment.
People make time for what they want to make time for. This includes WHO they want to make time for.
Everyone is busy. We all have responsibilities, commitments, plans. Everyone has a life. No one’s time is more valuable than anyone else’s.
I had expected certain people in my life to be in my village either because of our history together or family ties.
Eventually, I realized I had to let that go. If they wanted to make time for me, they would, plain and simple.
The second thing I had to do was learn to ask for help.
This was a hard pill to swallow. It already took a lot for me to admit to myself I couldn’t do it alone…but when I started asking for help, some people said no! They had their reasons (some legitimate, some iffy). It was humbling and a bit sad, to say the least. But I kept trying. And you know what?
Some people said yes! (More on this later.)
The third thing I needed to do was change my perspective.
I had been so focused on what my village was lacking that I failed to see what I actually do have. No, my village will never have a grandma, who can babysit for date night or dispense her wisdom upon us. It doesn’t have someone (other than Hubs) who can consistently give me a break every day or even every week.
BUT…I did have a village. It was small and it was slowly coming together…but it was a village nonetheless.
I am humbled by the people who have shown up and become a part of my mama village.
- The biggest village person of all: Hubs
- Neighbors, friends, and family who generously give us all of their babies’ clothing, equipment, and toys
- Friends who are aunties to my girls and love them like they were their own
- Family and friends who have fed us, showered us with countless gifts, and cared for our elderly dog
- People who have driven and flown in from out of town just to spend time with the girls
- Those who have supported us financially and emotionally
- Cyber friends I’ve met through various mom groups, who check in and commiserate with me, though we’ve never met or rarely meet in person
- Friends whose kiddos play with our kiddos
It’s all a matter of perspective.
Support shows up in all forms.
- A grocery run when you are suffering from depression and literally cannot leave the house
- Someone giving you a loan when neither of you have been working for months at a time
- The friend without kids who gives up her Friday night to come play with yours
- A neighbor with three kids of her own, who watches yours while you go get an ultrasound
- The cousins who video chat with your kiddos
- The family member who takes off work for an entire week to help you recover from your c-section
- Another family member who trades vehicles with yours, simply because theirs is larger
- The friend who drops everything for you when you need her
- An auntie who always sends cards and trinkets for your kiddos
I’m humbled and embarrassed at the same time when I actually list out the number of people who are in my tribe. Hubs and I were joking around the other day. We have a HUGE tribe…but at the same time, sometimes it feels like we have no one. Do we have actual, physical support on a daily basis? No. We just have each other. But do we have people who love us and love our girls and would help us out in a bind? 100% yes! And we are ever so grateful for them.
Do you have people in your mama village or tribe you never expected (or realized)? Be sure to thank them.
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Wishing you peace,