We’ve all heard the phrase that says “it takes a village to raise a child.” This refers to the idea that children are brought up not only by their immediate family, but by the many different caretakers in the community which make an impact on their lives. Children that grow up to be adaptable and resilient are often a result of developing healthy attachment to their parents, having close ties to their community, and knowing that there are people out there who are vested in their wellbeing.
The same can be said about mothers.
As mothers, we thrive on community. Child rearing is hard. It can be isolating and challenging. Having the support of a group of women who understand motherhood and all of its innate challenges can make all of the difference.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I thought that I was ready for motherhood. My husband and I had been together for 6 years. We had thoroughly enjoyed our time as newlyweds and felt ready for our next life phase. I had experienced a blissful pregnancy where I meditated daily and felt connected to my daughter already. I had designed my perfect baby nursery. We had read “The Happiest Baby on the Block.” I thought I was all set.
And I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When my daughter was born, I was completely taken aback by how much she required of me. I had never really been around a baby that young before and I was quite honestly shocked at how demanding it was to care for her needs. As a newborn, my daughter wanted to be held and nursed constantly. I had naively thought that I would be able to put my baby down and carry on with my life, aside from diaper changes and feeding times. (Ha!) That was not at all my experience. I was blessed with a baby that despised being put down and wanted to nurse 24/7! I quickly started to feel trapped. I worried that I was doing something wrong, or that there was something wrong with my baby.
In those early months with my daughter, we quickly fell into a phase that I now call “the newborn bubble”. Everything from that time is a complete haze to me. My daughter was colicky, which basically meant that she was cranky and fussy for a large portion of the day. I quickly learned that the only way to calm her down was to feed her, so it started to feel like I was nursing for hours on end.
Before having a baby, I had worked really hard to create a quiet and peaceful home life, and I found the sound of my baby’s constant crying extremely jarring. I felt like a horrible mother for feeling this way and hated hearing her in distress. I also started feeling really anxious about leaving the house, because I wasn’t yet comfortable breastfeeding in public, and I worried that if we went out, and she freaked out, I wouldn’t know how to handle it. We spent a lot of time home on the couch, because that was the only place where I felt confident that I could care for her needs. This was not what I had imagined life with my precious baby girl would be like.
Around this time, I was invited to go on a Mommy + Baby retreat. I was hesitant to go because I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if it would be worth it to leave the comfort and safety of my couch to go spend a weekend with a group of women that I didn’t really even know. But something inside me urged me to go on this retreat, and thankfully, I listened, because it ended up changing my whole experience of motherhood!
Being surrounded by a group of mothers who understood what I was going through was extremely comforting. I was reassured that I was doing a great job, and that there was nothing wrong with me or my baby. I learned that it is completely normal for newborns to want to be attached to their mothers, cry a lot, and nurse for extended periods of time. (Who knew?!) By surrounding myself with other mothers, I instantly felt seen, heard, and understood. This loving group of amazing women had a tremendous impact on me. I gained confidence in myself as a mother, and was able to return home and be the peaceful and happy mama that I had always wanted to be.
My daughter will be 2 in June, and as she has grown, so has my village of mamas. I am extremely grateful for my mom friends. Having the support of other mothers is invaluable. So much of parenting is trial and error. What works for one child, may not work for another. Because of this, it is extremely helpful to have other mothers to talk to, to bounce ideas off of, and to get different viewpoints for managing whatever challenges you may be facing. As mothers, we can all relate to each other. We all want the best for our children and we all want to be the best moms possible. In my experience, the best way to do this, is by surrounding myself with other mothers. It truly takes a village to raise a mother, especially a happy and confident mother. 🙂
Enrollment for my program for new moms, New Mama Bird Circle, is now open. If you are a new mother looking to find your own village of mamas, we would love to have you join us! It would be my honor to support you on your motherhood journey.