Do you have a mommy tribe?
When I became a mother, I was lucky. I had several friends and a sister in law who also had had babies around the same age as mine. We experienced our pregnancies in tandem, had “play dates” with our newborns (we talked while they slept or nursed), and had each other to lean on when we had questions and fears.
I don’t know how I could have done it without them.
I try to imagine that period of time without my mommy tribe. My husband was a new parent too, but he only understood so much of what I was going through after giving birth. He tried to be there for me, but without having gone through childbirth, nursing, and a touch of the baby blues himself, sometimes all he could do was listen.
Without a built-in group of other mom friends, though, it can be difficult to establish your own. There are times I feel like an outsider when I’m in parenting circles alone.
At the playground, with that group of friends who walked there together who I don’t know.
At preschool pick up, when mothers lean against the hallway walls, whispering familiarly.
When we visit my husband’s hometown and I take the kids on an outing and see no familiar faces.
What would it be like to navigate the mommy world alone?
These experiences and others have caused me to be more open to the mothers I see who may not have found a support system yet.
The family who is new to town.
The mom at the grocery store who just looks like she needs a little help.
The woman at story hour who’s trying to breastfeed while wrangling a toddler simultaneously.
Because I understand the importance of a community, it’s easier for me now to overcome the awkwardness of introductions to lend a helping hand. Who knows? Maybe she’ll become a new member of my own mommy tribe.
Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. She writes about all things toddler at Babble’s Toddler Times. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.