Remember how easy and carefree life before Motherhood was? Sure, it had its challenging moments and ups and downs but generally, as an independent grown-up flitting about in a grown-up world, it was kind of easy in hindsight to maintain your hard-won confidence, poise and mind through it all.
Enter your first baby though and whoa! – What an extraordinary wake-up call that one is! Gone are the thrills of the career highs, the late nights spent with friends, the freedoms and joys of dining out and movies, even the luxury of midnight TV.
Baby has arrived; screaming, unsettled and instruction-less and steals away all of your focus and energy along with it while you try to figure out this plethora of uncharted newness.
Suddenly you find yourself holed-up inside your home for the first time ever and I mean truly trapped, stuck in a chair breastfeeding or bottle feeding around the clock and always,always feeling ‘on edge’ while your ticking time-bomb of an infant sleeps sporadically at best.
The phone is off the hook for hours at a time and not because you are having a glorious catch-up chat with a girlfriend or an important convo with a client – it’s off because you can’t for the life of you bear to wake that unpredictable little bundle that explodes at the most ill-opportune of times and splinters your nerves along with it.
There are ‘do not knock’ signs taped to the doorbell. Housework threatens to overwhelm you. Showering has become a rare luxury and you’ve no idea what’s happening on the world stage because you seem to have simply fallen off it.
While the sentiment in the saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ has a real ring of truth to it, you might find yourself sitting in your pyjamas at 3pm on a weekday feeling brain-fried and generally crap and wondering how it is possible to feel so alone in this most common of careers; the thought ‘Where exactly is this village?’ pounding on a never-ending loop within your empty head.
I remember being faced with this exact moment very starkly, in the early weeks with my number one baby. We’d had an infamously dreadful birth experience with lots of drama, pain and worry and weeks (no, make that months) of slow healing and physiotherapy for the pair of us. To say it was a horrible and rough introduction into my new role as a Mother would be an understatement and if I am entirely honest, it was one where I at times felt a lot of guilt for not really enjoying my new career as much as everyone seemed to think I would or should.
Motherhood in those early months, to put it bluntly, was simply no fun at all. At one low and poignant moment I remember thinking I might never manage to laugh or smile again or venture outside my own front door. I know that sounds dramatic now but at the time I felt teary, pathetic, useless, anxious and totally isolated.
Looking back now with the luxury of parenting experience behind me, (thanks to my now six children), the solution to my woes back then was easy:
You’ve got to find that village for yourself.
Sure, you have friends already, but are they Mums too? Do they have children the same age as yours? Are they going through the same experiences as you? I found myself having a light-bulb moment when I realised that the general answer to those simple questions at that time was – no.
Finding your village means finding other like-minded Mum friends who are rowing along beside you in the same boat – you’ve similar needs, wants and situations in life right now, you simply have not connected yet.
It’s important to seek out and find new friends in this sometimes lonely world of Motherhood and not just in your early days with a newborn either. No matter what your current situation is on this beautiful life journey, it’s made so much easier to trudge through the murkier times and enjoy the happier ones with a companion who understands what you’re going through with your baby or child right now, because they too are in the same place as you.
So if you’re a Mum and feeling lonely or isolated, seek out other Mama friends wherever you go. Join a local walking group, a playgroup, check out the nearby activities in the community newspaper. Ask around for recommendations within your circles no matter how small they may be and before long you’ll find yourself on the right path.
Find your grown-up confidence again and be the first to strike up a conversation with a Mum who looks like she shares a similar place in life. You’ll never know either way, if you avoid making that first important move.
How did you find your local village?
Jody is a mum of 6 young kids. She’ s always asked “How do you do it?” “What is it like?” These questions blossomed into the blog it is today, and so much more. Follow Six Little Hearts for all things parenting, recipes for delicious treats and reviews of great products for babies, kids and beyond as well as places to visit with kids (or without!) in and around Melbourne.