As a teenager I constantly pushed the envelope and saw rules as mere suggestions. Despite my aloof attitude, my aspirations to settle down, have a family, and be half the stay-at-home mom my own mother was kept me somewhat grounded. I married my husband, Chris, four months after we began to date and despite our unconventional cake cutting, we make a great team.
Our desire to start a family shortly after tying the knot meant I was pregnant when I graduated college. When my daughter, Kerrigan, was born in 2011, I was clueless and slept at the foot of my bed with her in the Pack ‘n Play next to me with a paralyzing fear that something would happen to her if I fell asleep. Our ability to be a team changed. We still tackled parenthood together, but my experiences as a mom were simply different than his as a dad. I was the one who waddled around pregnant and felt overwhelmingly insecure. I was the one who dealt with shame for not having the birth experience I wanted. I also struggled deeply with postpartum anxiety. As the first of my group of friends to have a child, I was-in a sense-alone.
A few months after Kerrigan was born we moved to Texas. I left my family, friends, and Social Work career behind to become a stay-at-home mom. God blessed me through Square One, a ministry for first time moms of infants at Watermark Community Church, with a group of women who met me exactly where I was. Three years and several more children among us later, I am still encouraged and admonished by these women who could not be any more the same as and different from me all at the same time. Chris continued to be my biggest support but these women understood the chaos in a way my husband just couldn’t.
I’ve found that motherhood is the Great Equalizer. Regardless of your ZIP code, annual income, age, or knowledge of Uppa Baby or Chicco the playing field becomes level once someone can refer to you as “Mom.”
Navigating the waters of parenthood is both exhilarating and terrifying. One day you feel like you’ve got it all figured out, put on something other than yoga capris (to give the impression you exercised), and even brush your teeth. The next you’re probably on your third ugly cry of the day before you call your mom and beg her to visit. As women we’re relational and thrive through encouragement from others. In our weakness we need friends who get it. When we doubt our abilities to do much more than change a diaper and haphazardly give our kids what could loosely be defined as a meal for lunch, it’s important to call on long time girlfriends. Women who remind you that regardless of the fact that you have children, you’re so much more than a pacifier and Hungry Hungry Hippo player.
Below are images of my people. They remind me that it takes a village. It takes a village to raise a good Mama. Or an Anne. Or a Katie. Or a (insert name here). I cannot stress enough the importance of not doing motherhood alone. Our babies are only babies for a nanosecond it seems. We’re sleep deprived, stressed, sore from holding teething babies, and worn out from disciplining the same behavior over and over and over again. But, mamas, be encouraged. Take heart. Know you’re not alone, your battles are not new, and your children’s milestones are worth rejoicing over with others who get it. Don’t do this life in isolation. You’re far too valuable to deprive others of the blessing of knowing the real you, whether you’re fresh out of Drybar or you’ve forgotten the last time you showered. You matter, Mama. You matter.
For other great tips on finding a mom group for you, visit these other Dallas Moms Blog posts:
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Hello there! I’m Elizabeth, a feisty Kansan whose handsome husband brought her to Texas to live among the wonders of bluebonnets and exceptional BBQ. I’m a mama to two sweet munchkins who remind me daily that life really is more fun when you don’t clean the house. I have made it my “mommy mission” to instill a love for Jesus and my beloved Jayhawks into my family. You can read more about how I’m succeeding (and failing) at that here: http://graceandakitchen.wordpress.com/