I hope you had a wonderful long weekend – I know I did! I took the littles to Allen Beach with their cousins and then my toddler and I baked cookies yesterday. Needless to say, there was a lot of family time this weekend, which means not a lot of blogging time. I’m okay with that trade!
But being at the beach made me realize something: I NEVER would have been able to make that happen when I had FEWER kids! When Georgia was Leo’s age, I could barely make myself get off the couch, nevermind pack her up for a day trip! When I realized how different this time around is, I started thinking about the things that I wish I’d known back when I had my first – and what things I did with my first that made the second time around so much easier (shame on me for claiming it’s easy when it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done).
Thus was born this new regular feature: Tuesday Get a CluesDay! Every Tuesday, I will post something that I think would have helped first time mom me in the hopes that it will help other first time moms. So let’s see what’s in the Get a CluesDay bag for today.
JOIN A DAMN MOM’S GROUP.
Ok. Ok. I know that this sounds obvious from the outside, but if you’re anything like me, then even though you sort of know it’s a good idea, you will still not do it. This is, to me, one of the MOST IMPORTANT things that you can do for yourself as a new mom. Allow me to elucidate:
I am awkward. Oh no, I know what you’re thinking: oh she’s one of those girls that claims that she’s awkward, but she’s secretly charming in a nerdy way. Nope. I strive to one day maybe hit “nerdily charming” instead of “deeply offputting” in social situations. True stories: my friends don’t tell me when they’ve invited people I don’t know to something because they know I won’t come. I genuinely map out exit strategies when I enter a room with more than 2 people in it (or 2 people or fewer if I don’t know them really well). I one time hid under my desk at work to avoid a work social event. I have brought up religion, politics, and cannibalism in casual conversation with strangers. I have used information about how birds have sex to break the ice at dinner (but seriously, though, have you ever thought about it? How DO they have sex? I know, because I googled it, but I’m not telling you – you will have to google it yourself and then sit back in amazement that you’ve never googled something so interesting before).
Back to the point: when AB Health told me to sign up for their new mom’s group because I was showing signs of Post-Partum Depression (I wonder if it was the pungent smell of my stale sweat that gave me away?) I nodded woodenly before disregarding the idea entirely. Even at my finest, I would never sign up to just go meet new people I don’t know… and you want me to do it with two hours of sleep and breastmilk leaking through my shirts? How do you even manage it? Do you nurse there? Do people see your boobs? What if my baby cries the whole time, or everyone is judgemental? What if they’ve all got their shit together and I’m just hit in the face by how horribly unfit to be a mother I am?
Let me tell you the answer to all of those questions: the women you will meet in that room are just like you. They are MESSED UP by childbirth and are so exhausted, overwhelmed and anxious that they don’t even notice the spit up in your hair… they’re worried about their own kids’ blowouts, boogers and bloodwork. They’re thinking the SAME things as you. They are wondering if they’ll ever lose the weight. If they’ll ever want to even see a penis again. If their babies skin/poop/weight/noises/sleep etc is “normal.” If they are. If they’ll ever feel like it again.
Go. Meet these women. They will need you as much as you need them.
I went twice. I was overwhelmed both times. Georgia wouldn’t stop crying, I was ashamed of the shield I had to use to nurse, and I felt like I was wasting my time because the course wasn’t answering my questions and I couldn’t even figure out how to phrase them to ask. But here’s what happened: the course didn’t matter. Honest to God, all of us agreed that the most valuable part of the meetings were the BREAKS where we got to finally talk. Where we finally said the words “has anyone had sex yet?” and realized that we are NOT all weird… we’re all just figuring out our NEW NORMAL.
This was two years ago. We are still friends. Our kids go to each others’ birthdays. We have coffee dates, playdates, beer and wine dates. We send each other flowers when we have lost. We celebrate our successes. We ask each other about tantrums, potty training, and poop. We tell each other about family-friendly spots, and places to avoid at all costs. We cry together, laugh together. We are a strange family created because we were all cast to sea and found the same tiny piece of floating wreckage. In many ways, they saved me. I like to think I am a part of having helped them, too.
But it wasn’t easy. Here is what I can tell you about how to get yourself out of the house and to a mom’s group. Or to a workout class where there are other moms. Or ANYWHERE to meet some mom friends.
- Just fucking do it already. Stop making excuses. No one knows what you used to look like, no one cares that you’re not wearing makeup, or that this is your 6th day in a row in the same semi-see through lulus. Just go.
- Keep a packed diaper bag at the door so that you can just grab it and get in the car. IF nothing else is in there, have diapers, wipes, a changemat, a cover (if you aren’t comfortable nursing without one). IF you are bottle feeding (formula or BM), have some in the fridge to throw in your bag when you go.
- Don’t try to time it around nursing. Obviously, it’s ideal to nurse and then leave right away, but it’s more important that you’re just THERE, so if the debate is between nursing there or not going… nurse there. You will never meet other moms if you don’t leave your house. Duh.
- Try a couple different places. There should for real be a tinder for moms: we are all out there desperately seeking our mom-friends… even if we are too shy or overwhelmed to know how to. Look for people with commonalities to you, but you’ll be shocked how much you’ll have in common just by nature of you both being new moms.
Wherever you decide to go, know this: you’re not weird. Well, you are. Probably. But you’re no weirder than anyone else! If you suddenly feel like you have very little in common with your baby-less friends, you’re not alone. If you feel like you’re doing it all wrong, you’re not alone. If you feel like you’ve lost who you are, or your marriage, or your body… you’re NOT ALONE. However you are feeling… that’s normal, I swear it. And if what you’re feeling is depressed, or anxious, or angry… you’re not alone and you need support and help. Find a group of women who will be there and for whom you can be a support as well. Commit to a Facebook group with them, exchange phone numbers, find doable activities and ACTUALLY DO THEM…whatever you are capable of doing, do. We started with playdates at each others’ houses, and added wine nights for us moms. We set up schedules (it always helps to have a Type A in the group!) so that we could plan around our dates. We went for long walks where we bonded and talked and cried. Commit. It’s worth it, I promise.
Thanks for reading! Later this week, I’m going to post about why I’m the Mediocre Mom: I kept my daughter in daycare after I had my son. It’s a choice that I’m conflicted about, but I want to talk about why I made the choice I did.