You know that saying, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child?” It’s so true, but the thing is like many other things about parenting, finding that village isn’t easy. I moved to Georgia after college and I didn’t really know anyone when I moved here. After I met my husband and we got married, we only had a handful of friends who had kids. The ones who did lived on the other side of town and we didn’t see them that often.
So when I became a mom, I felt really isolated and alone. Even though I had plenty of friends, I didn’t feel like they really understood what I was going through. I was having trouble with nursing and my baby was always hungry. Because of that, he was only taking 30 minute naps during the day and I felt like I was losing my mind. When I went to the Dr. for my postpartum check-up she told me what I was going through was normal, and she gave me a few recommendations to get through it.
So I started being more intentional about reaching out to the friends I had with kids, even if they lived in another state. One of my friends from college recommended I read a book called, The Girlfriends’ Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood by Vicki Lovine. As I started to read it, I realized that everything I was going through was normal. Around that same time another mom friend called me on the phone and after she gave me some tips for getting the baby to take longer naps she said, “I promise you it does get easier. I wouldn’t have had another one if it doesn’t!” The more I started to reach out to other moms, the more I felt that I wasn’t alone and the better I felt.
After my second child was born and I decided to be a stay at home mom, I knew I needed to grow my support network. So I joined a local moms’ club that had weekly playgroups broken down by ages. That was when I really started to feel like I had a village. It took time to get to know them, but once I forced myself to go consistently, the group of strangers started to become familiar. The playgroups were just as much for me as they were for my kids to socialize with other kids their age.
Last week my youngest son Charlie got really sick in the middle of the night. He woke up at 3 am burning up and had a fever of 103.5. He started crying that his stomach hurt and then ended up getting sick multiple times throughout the night. I finally went back to sleep around 5am only to be woken up again at 5:30am by my other son, Noah crying. Luckily he wasn’t sick, but was just sad that my husband was going out of town and had already left.
Charlie got sick again later that morning right before we left to take his brother to school. All I could think about was how I was going to get Gatorade to replenish his electrolytes. We always give our kids Gatorade when they are sick, and now they expect it. Sure enough Charlie started asking for Gatorade and we didn’t have any. My husband had left at 5am to go to the airport for an early morning flight and I was afraid that if Charlie and I went to the store he’d get sick in the car. I did’t want to do Instacart just for Gatorade, especially since we had just done it the day before.
A few minutes later a text thread started with some of my mom friends about a weekly playgroup that we’re a part of. I let everyone know that we wouldn’t be there that day, because Charlie was sick and of course it didn’t take long for someone to offer help. One of my friends who lives on the other side of town offered to go to the store for me and get whatever I needed, but I felt guilty asking her to drive all the way to our house just for Gatorade.
So I texted 3 of my mom friends who live in our neighborhood to see if they’d grab us some Gatorade if they were going grocery shopping that day. It couldn’t have been 5 minutes between when I sent the text before we had several bottles sitting on our front porch. My friend who lives right down the street happened to be stocked up so she dropped some off.
By then another friend in the playgroup text thread had offered to bring Gatorade too. I know this may seem like something small, but to a mom who has been up all night with a sick child who is crying that Gatorade is the only thing that will make him feel better, it means a lot. It means a lot to know that you aren’t alone and that you’re surrounded by people who’ve got your back. The small things add up to make the village that it takes to raise children.
We are fortunate enough to have our parents living close by to help out with our kids when we want to have a date night. But to me, the village that it takes to raise my children is much more than that. My village is the mom who called and told me it was going to get better when she recognized the first time mom fear and uncertainty in my voice. My village is the group of moms who collected money for dinner when one of the moms in our group had a sick kid for 5 days straight in a row and her husband was out of town. My village is the friend who encourages me to go after my dream of starting my own blog and tells me I can do it when I doubt myself. My village is the group of mom friends who takes me out to dinner so that I can vent about all the things that are getting me down and tells me that I am not alone.
I hope that if you are a mom who’s feeling isolated and alone, that you’ll make the effort to reach out to old friends who have kids. Even if you think whatever you’re going through is unique to your situation, don’t be afraid to talk about it. Join a mom group or find a church with a bible study for moms. Find a way to connect with other moms and build your village. No one should have to go through motherhood alone!