Disclaimer: This article is an account of my feelings. They are part of my truth,…
We’re taught to not talk about the transitions we go through as women. We hide tampons up our sleeves as we rush to the bathroom. We hide condoms and birth control in our underwear drawers. We nod in agreement when people say “all that matters is that the baby is healthy.”
This tendency to swallow our truths and live as if we’ve got it all together doesn’t set us up to feel seen and supported once we become mothers. In fact, it leads to isolation. That’s why it’s essential to have people in our lives that don’t accept our canned answers but make us feel safe enough to reveal the truth that’s on the tip of our tongues.
We need each other through these pivotal stages in our lives, especially throughout the many stages of motherhood. When not only our physical bodies change, but our brains, identities, relationships, and everything else changes too.
As someone who facilitates support groups for new parents, something I always ask them is, “What have you done for yourself today or this week or this month?” During pregnancy, new motherhood, and as a working mom, feeling confident speaking your truth starts with making your own wellbeing a priority.
And if you crave the support of other women, honest conversation, and a group that has your back, then give that to yourself. Truly, I observe and receive the most support in a group setting with my peers; other women in the same stage of life. Not only do we get to be supported and support each other, we form deep friendships.
Which is great because making friends as an adult can be really awkward! It’s easy to justify not putting ourselves out there because “you have enough friends.” What we lose sight of is the need for new friends in each stage of our lives. And holy moly do we need mom friends. They are not meant to replace existing friends, but they are needed to support us as we become mothers because it’s bonkers. Absolutely bonkers.
I often equate meeting a mom friend to dating. You may meet during pregnancy at prenatal yoga or childbirth education class, or maybe a prenatal support group (a highly underutilized resource which I will come back to later). You exchange numbers and text a little bit. After the baby arrives you text more because, “Why didn’t anyone tell me?! Is this normal?!”
Some new friends drop off and others keep moving forward. You introduce the spouses (the equivalent of introducing someone you’re dating to your family), and before you know it Saturday mornings are reserved for each other, bagels, and the playground.
I have seen women planning their next pregnancies with these mom friends, so that they can recreate the supportive experience of becoming first time moms as they become second time moms. These relationships are invaluable.
I feel so much joy watching these relationships unfold. Everyone shares openly and honestly about their struggles and celebrates all of their wins. Parents from all different backgrounds, careers, experiences come together to share the vulnerability of matrescence.
Because the truth is as mothers, we are all on an even playing field. We are all new moms, trying to figure out how to navigate through this crazy time in our life. It doesn’t matter if you are a doctor, an attorney, marketing director, principal, etc. We are all beginners here.
And of course, the transitions don’t end here. Becoming a mother shifts everything moving forward. Including going back to work. Since we are different people now we may feel and show up differently at work. There are new challenges, new priorities, and new expectations. And so often all of these leave us feeling so darn guilty. Guilty that we want to go to work. Guilty that we have to go to work. Guilty that we also want some time for ourselves. Guilty that we miss our partners.
The beauty of a support group and mom friends is that we realize that we are not the only ones feeling these things. We are not alone. As we move through each of these stages of life of growing our families, parenting, emptying the nest, menopause (sorry not sorry to bring it up), finding a group of women in the same stage, and employing your best self-care, self-soothing, nourishing practices is your foundation.
Caring for yourself leads to advocating for yourself. And advocating for yourself empowers you to advocate for others and models empathy, compassion, and confidence for your children and everyone around you. So, remember that it’s not selfish. It’s crucial and good friends will remind you of that.