I will never forget the day, shortly after moving into my current neighborhood, that a brand new mum friend said those words that every mum without a village wishes she could hear. “Don’t worry, we’ll be your family.” That friend has stood by those words ever since.
But, there were many years in the early years of birthing babies and raising toddlers that I didn’t have that. I didn’t have any family to lean on, and I certainly didn’t have a friend I could call in an emergency to ask them to watch my kids last minute.
It was an isolating time for me in my life. The first year after my oldest was born, she and I were alone together all day long. There were no visits from friends. There were no playdates in the community. There was no family to drop over so I could shower. In fact, my husband was busy with his surgery rotation for school, and he took the one and only car we had to work. So, most days I was home alone, without a car, with a brand new baby.
You hear it all the time. Mothers will say, “I’m so grateful for my tribe.” Or “It takes a village to raise a child.” But, what if you don’t have a village?
If that is you right now, I see you. I understand how lonely you might be feeling right this very second. I know how you long to connect with other women, but seem to always fall short of making those deeper connections. I know what it feels like to cry alone when your baby won’t sleep, or when you just can’t seem to get a break from all your responsibilities and you are tired to the bone.
I see how hard this is for you. Because, I’ve been there.
During that time of mothering without a village, I found my own strength though. I learned that no one was going to bring me dinner after babies, and no one was going to hold the baby while I napped. I learned that, aside from my spouse, there wasn’t really a friend I could call and commiserate over lost sleep and never ending laundry while also battling postnatal depression. So I found the strength to get through it on my own.
Looking back, I am proud of what I accomplished without a lot of help. Do I wish it had been different? Yes. But, I’ve learned since then, that if things were going to change, and if I was really going to find a village, it wasn’t going to come knocking on my door.
Since that time, I’ve learned a few things about finding a village. I’ve learned that you have to sometimes open your mouth and ask to exchange phone numbers from the mum at the park who is the first adult you’ve talked to all day.
I’ve learned that you have to sometimes be vulnerable and ask for help so that others know that you need it.
I’ve learned that a village won’t come to you. You have to work hard to find it sometimes. You have to go to the library for story time, or sign up for a mummy and me swim class, and then when you get there, you have to be prepared to talk to other people and admit you need a friend.
Can you do it alone? Yes, of course you can. You are strong, and brave, and fully capable of mothering your little kids alone. But, let me tell you something — you need to find that village. Because, I have it now; and it’s one of the best things that has ever happened to me as a mum.
I have people to drop my kids off at their house in an emergency. I have a mum friend who swaps with me every week for childcare so we have a few hours of peace. I have people who I like to hang out with while our kids play at the park. I have playdate options and friends to call up to go with me to the zoo or the museum when we want to get out of the house last minute.
I even have an incredible group of online women that lift me up daily, too.
I have someone to complain to when things get hard, and commiserate with when things feel impossible. Having a village and a support system is a big reason why I’m a happy mum. Could I be happy without that village? Probably. But, do I want to? No way.
So, for the mum that doesn’t have a village, I see you. I see that you feel sad, alone, and maybe even depressed that you don’t have those friends to call up and chat with on the phone, or to grab a cup of coffee with while your minis run around the park.
Find your village. Find it at the park, or find it online. It’s possible. Because, I promise, thriving as a mother is so much easier with a village by your side.