Thursday, March 28

preparing for baby: finding your mama tribe


Liz, me, Laura, Kathleen, Kathryn, last year on Mother's Day. Aren't they all so gorgeous?


These days, late-night conversations tucked in bed with my husband are likely to start like this:

Me: "Tell me it's gonna be okay when we have this baby."

Husband: "Honey, it's gonna be okay."


What's great is he truly, genuinely means it. One of the most amazing things about my husband is his unwavering faith (despite, I would say, plenty of evidence to the contrary) in my abilities as a mother. He is grounded and solid and his confidence in me gives me such strength and comfort.

Last night, he went on to list a few things that would be different this time around from when Silas was a newborn, and topping that list is you didn't have your mama tribe when Silas was born.

Almost a year ago: Meghan, Aiden, Lucy, Silas, Jonah (omg those thighs!)
He's right. I've been fortunate to have great mama friends right from the beginning of my first pregnancy, whose advice and company I truly would not have made it through without. (One of which gave me one of the best pieces of advice I've ever received: find a mom with a child a few months older than yours and do what she does.)  But my closest mama tribe didn't coalesce until Silas was about 7 months old, after he started attending a local Mother's Day Out program.

Silas, Lucy, Meghan, Jonah (Aiden missing from photo) recently at our favorite coffeeshop hangout.


I had met most of them before. Kathryn and Laura had been Prenatal students of mine around the same time the previous year, while I was in the early months of pregnancy myself. Kathleen was one of my first students once I returned to teaching after Silas' birth, joining us for just a few weeks right at the end of her pregnancy. I met Liz when MDO started. We were all first-time moms, our babes all born within a year of each other. Two of us are grad students and professors; one of us works from home; two of us are full-time moms. Each afternoon we would scoop up our babes just before 3pm and convene to nurse them on the oversize couches in the church's foyer. Not many things will cause women to bond faster than breastfeeding together.

Soon we were meeting for coffees after school, on Friday mornings when there was no MDO. There were some brief, glorious months before the kids were all mobile when we would bring our fellas along and all gather for happy hour on Friday afternoons. We talked about everything. We listened to complaints about nursing and eating and sleeping. We offered support through earaches and toothaches and late-night fevers. Always offering an ear to hear, a shoulder to lean on, an extra pair of arms to hold each other's babies when one of us just had enough. Our kiddos are growing up together, with a tribe of aunties watching over them. We share coffee and beers and donuts and tacos and tears and laughter. And a not-entirely-healthy obsession with purses.

On the last day of MDO last spring.
This last Saturday, my girls took me out for a lovely lunch in lieu of a baby shower. We left our kiddos at home, we shared great conversation, great food, a bottle of wine. (Well, they had wine. Lucky.) Kathryn offered a toast: to finding your mama tribe. Oh yes, yes.



Mamas, I tell you, we need each other. We need each other to reflect each other's beauty, strength and grace. We need each other to witness our efforts and progress and the fact that we are all doing an amazing job even when we don't feel like we are. I love my husband, and would be lost without his faith in my mothering skills, but no one knows like another mama knows. We need each other's support, counsel, company and honresty. We need each other to remind ourselves that we are not alone, even when we feel alone, and that we are not crazy, especially when we feel crazy.


Partial tribe: me, Kathleen, Kathryn, this past Saturday.

I don't know what I would do without these women in my life. Their presence is vital to my sanity. And I know that having them around is going to make life with this new baby a whole lot better. Since I am the first one to have a second child, and several of them aren't going to try for more, what I have are four aunties who are very eager to dote on this little one! And don't you know it, they gifted me with my coveted diaper bag, making me feel even more together, ready and excited for this baby to come. (Oh man, this thing is amazing.)

I am lucky that in my work as a Prenatal yoga teacher, I am encountering new moms all the time. I was lucky that circumstances brought the five of us together around MDO. I am pleased beyond measure that a (closed) Facebook group that I started for local mamas, first with mostly just my own students, has bloomed and blossomed over two years to have over 500 members, among which many, many mamas have found their tribe.

Maybe you are lucky, and have established mama friends already who will hold your hand along the way. But maybe you're the first one of your circle to have a baby, or you've recently moved to a new area. Yes, your childless and faraway friends will be of immense value to you in this time of transition. And your husband may be a wonderfully supportive and involved daddy. But still, allow me to strongly recommend you seek out mama friends in your community. There is simply no substitute for a mama tribe you can go out to the coffeeshop or park with.  Facebook is a good place to start, to see if there are groups in your community. Your local La Leche League chapter is another excellent way to meet mamas. (And you don't have to wait until your baby is born! In fact, I encourage you to go and bring your questions while you are still pregnant.) And may I recommend you seek out a Prenatal Yoga class in your community? Also, please check out this great post on Happiest Mom about making mom friends. You might have to put yourself out there, to make an effort, to be vulnerable, which, I grant you, is difficult when so much in life with a newborn is new and raw. But your efforts will be rewarded hundredfold once you find those women to support and love you, to let you know that, though you may feel otherwise some days, you are strong and beautiful and a good mama to your children.

May I propose a toast? To all of you beautiful, strong, competent mamas out there. But, most especially, to my very own mama tribe. I love you and I would be lost without you.


2 comments:

  1. Hi Fanny,

    I really admire your personal and engaging voice. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing such great advice and stories on your blog for busy mothers and parents of young children! I agree that new mothers need a support group, and having other new mothers as friends are a must.

    I’ve taken a look through your website and we think you’ve done a fantastic job in covering topics that our brand's audience of expecting mothers would be interested in reading. It would be great if you could join our community to feature your blog entries.

    If you would like to learn more about this, please send an email to info at atomicreach.com with “mothers” in the subject line.

    Sincerely,
    Tina

    ReplyDelete

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