Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I get by with a little help...

It's an interesting situation: a woman gives birth; at home, hospital, side of the road, it doesn't matter where and she is then surrounded by people who wish her well.  They want to know details the new mom never thought anyone would care about.  When did her water break?  How long was labor?  How many pushes did it take? What pain medication (if any) was used?  About a week later those well wishers are now AWOL.  The woman is now thrust into this new persona of Mom.  Late night feedings leave her sleep deprived, a cry that is designed to be as annoying to her as possible leaves her craving silence, diapers leave her wondering what on earth could create such a smell.  The list goes on.  Sometimes after only a few weeks she has to return to work.  Sometimes her partner returns to work. 

So now what?  Here is this small entity that she now must nurture, feed and do everything for.  Once going to the bathroom was a simple necessity, it is now a luxury. Oh the baby is asleep for 5 minutes she can go pee!!  Only to get in there, start her business and WAAAHHH!!!!!!  Eating?  Oh, you mean the bite that she gets to take between cleaning up the spit-up of curdled milk or formula and changing the diaper?  And don't get me started on trying to figure out just what to do with a child all day.  I mean come on, how long can you dangle a toy just out of reach of them?  Or make the same nonsensical sounds over and over and over again? Before she added the royal title of Mom to her resume she could look forward to stimulating adult conversation when and where she wanted.  It didn't take her an hour just to get out the door (after she was dressed and ready herself that is).  Inviting people over was not a diplomatic relations of nap times.  If she works then coming home was the relaxing part of the day where she got to make a leisurely meal, watch some tv or read a book then head to bed as she wanted.  Now she's scrambling to get food made, eaten and a shower before trying to get some sleep. 

Don't get me wrong, parenting is very rewarding.  I would never trade my little girls smiles, laughs and "I love you" for anything.  But let's face it, it's also one of the hardest things you'll ever do.  Climbing Mt. Everest?  HAH!  While physically taxing I'd like to see some of those people do it while attempting to entertain a 3 month old for the entire day without losing some semblance of their sanity.  I will admit that I know some moms who never struggle with just what do they do with this squiggly person who hangs on their every action. 

What I'm pointing out is that it's very hard to do, no matter your situation.  Especially when all those well wishers have left.  All those people who brought you food for the first week or so, where have they gone?  How do you figure out what to do and how to do it?  The answer?  Friends!!  Maybe you're one of the lucky ones and have friends who are moms with kids close to your child's age.  Maybe you're living where you grew up and have a lot of people who are willing to come over and watch the baby for a little bit.  I know some moms who I think are fortunate enough to live with family that will do most of the cooking and cleaning (they beg to differ on the "fortunate" part some days).  But I also know many women who have gone from working full time to staying home and have no one to talk to.  Or moms who go back to work and all the other women they work with don't have kids yet so they don't really want to (or know how to) talk about baby related things.  It can be very isolating. 

 How do you gain those friendships?  Simple, join a mom's group.  And yes, this is shameless self-promotion but hey, I figure you're reading this so you already know about us.  Don't just follow a blog or check things on Facebook.  Those are worthwhile yes, but just how much are you interacting?  Do you really feel you can say "HELP!" or get to know people just by those two methods?  Do you really feel you can get good advice and empathy from Facebook people you may never have met?  Why not post an introduction?  Why not come to an event or ask someone with a child of similar age to meet you at a park/cafe/mall?  When we were in school it sometimes took an act of courage to ask that interesting kid to play with you or sit with you for lunch.  Go back to those days again and get the courage to ask someone over so you have someone to talk to.  It may take a bit to really feel like someone's a close friend.  But trust me, it's worth it.


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