I was talking to the below author about our experiences of motherhood and she shared with me a bit about her early days as a new mom. Her own mom had died when she was younger and felt like she was missing her own mom more than ever. Without her mom, and siblings living out of province, she didn’t have a strong support group when her babies were born. Truthfully, it was something I hadn’t really thought of. We were so fortunate to have family around us and I honestly don’t know if we would have survived without them.
So to those of you who didn’t have a mom who is present, or whose village was less supportive than you had hoped, this one is for you. She asked to remain anonymous, but if you would like to connect with her, send me a message on Instagram and I’ll put you in touch.
There’s that old saying we’ve all heard, it takes a village to raise a child. Well what if you don’t have a village?
Most people assume when you are at the age of starting your family that your mom is around, but for a lot of people she isn’t. In my case, my mom passed away when I was younger. I’ve always missed her so much, but when I had my babies, suddenly I was grieving all over again. Grieving for her. I had a new compassion for her as a mother and grandmother.
For others, the absence of their mother may be because of physical distance, age, addiction, mental capabilities, etc.
Maybe you don’t trust your mom with your children. Perhaps she just isn’t capable of caring for them. This can also apply to siblings, in-laws, extended family and friends. Some people live far from family and where they grew up and are quite literally alone.
When my babies were born I was surprised by the number of people that just came to visit. They would hold a baby, say “oh they are just so cute” and leave. I found some people weren’t interested in changing a diaper, sterilizing bottles, offering to take care of them while you get in a little rest, etc. while they visit. They literally just want to sit on the couch and hold a baby for an hour, which was totally fine because I chose to have my babies, not them. At the end of the day they are my responsibility and I’m not owed any help from anyone, but help is nice.
I also don’t remember people genuinely asking how I was doing. There was the casual “how you doing?” and of course the automated response is “fine” but not the sincere concern of “I know you must be overwhelmed, what you’re doing is not easy. You are doing an awesome job though. Are you Ok? How are you managing all this?”
I think one of the things I had the hardest time with was when we asked for help, family members would come up with a bunch of excuses not to, so we just stopped asking. It hurt. I remember feeling so low. I think a lot of us have a hard time asking for help and it was really hard to build up the courage to do it and be told no with some pretty lame excuses at times. I remember telling my husband that nobody cares about me. Those were days that I really missed my mom. I really needed her then. I needed somebody.
It also made me really look at my relationships and where I stood with people. It made me realize I had placed expectations on people. I just assumed that bringing home newborn babies people would want to help, knowing that my mom isn’t here and my sisters lived across the country. I remember after months of this and my husband being really upset I just told him “it’s going to be us, we’re the team”
Once I came to grip with my reality there was a real shift. I literally had no expectations of anyone anymore. If someone did help out, great! But I didn’t expect them to. It’s a bit of a lonely place and you really have to take it a day at a time. You have to rely on each other. But it can be done.
At a certain point I remember thinking “wow! I’m really doing this, and I’m actually doing pretty well. I’m kind of a bad ass. If I can do this I can do anything” I gained a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities through this experience.
With this being said, when you need help, ask. Look for it. One way is to make a list and put one on the fridge, bathroom mirror and coffee table. List all the things that someone could do to help you out. Someone will be visiting, see it and go “hey, I can pick you up some groceries tomorrow!” For example:
Buy diapers, wipes, formula
Pick up groceries
Take baby for a walk
Take care of an older sibling
Watch kids while I nap
Take our car for service
List everything and anything.
Help may also be in places you don’t expect. I belong to a bunch of mom facebook groups for the city I live in, specialized groups, etc. Go to mom playgroups, especially age specific because those moms are at the same stage as you with their kids. I think a lot of what I needed was emotional support and encouragement that I was doing fine and that feeling overwhelmed is quite normal.
I still really miss my mom. Having children has also made me connect with her on a different level. I understand now how much she loved me. I couldn’t know that before I became a mom. Now my heart aches for her when she knew she was terminal and was limited with a very short time left with her children. I just can’t imagine. So I live my life to honour her. I relish in the moments, the chaos, the mess, the joys.
You’ve got this.
Lisa note: If you need support – you can reach out to me on IG and I’d be happy to help you out. Or, a simple Facebook or Google search for your area is sure to bring up a ton of different play groups or support groups.