Monday, September 10, 2012

Discovering Me - Again

One of the things I discovered about motherhood and working full time is that it can be very isolating.

Especially if you're like how I was with Jellybean for say the first 16 months or so and you are convinced that you need to spend every free moment with your child and everyone else is ill equipped to care for him.

I placed a lot of pressure on myself due to working mom guilt. And first time mom worry.

So by the time Jellybean was a year old I felt like I didn't have any friends and I was tired and frustrated of it.

I made a resolve to put myself out there to make friends. Other moms who understood and had similar philosophies.

(Notice I said similar - not identical. You're never going to find someone who believes everything you do or vice versa. The key is to agree or choose to mutually disagree on the big issues and move on.)

So initially I started with a breastfeeding support group. Since half the world seemed to think I was a freak for still nursing Jellybean after a year. (Or at 20 months now!) These ladies didn't. They knew it was normal. Then slowly as not to clutter the breastfeeding support group up with non breastfeeding related issues I started a moms group. We planned play dates, busy bag swaps, mall meetups.

Finally, I felt ready for a big step and I got Joey on board with it.

I was doing a Mom's Night Out. Joey agreed to watch Jellybean while I went out.

I put the post up and had instant responses in less than three minutes.

Apparently everyone felt the need to be more than just mom for a night.

Last Friday five of us gathered at a restaurant.

We ate dinner. In one sitting. Without having to tell someone NO! or retrieve thrown utensils and sippy cups.

I enjoyed a glass of Sangria with mine.

It was heaven.

We had uninterrupted conversation about life, marriage, kids, breastfeeding, careers, labor etc.

The ladies thanked me for being so willing to organize the night and all commented on how much they needed it.

Then we went to another venue and sat in the courtyard and listened to a band play. We went on a search for coffee and ended up upstairs in a bar which had an empty dance floor that we took over.

I thought I'd be home by 11. We rolled in around 1 am.

Jellybean and Joey sleeping peacefully in bed.

Jellybean didn't even notice I'd been gone.

Meanwhile the moms and I? We were refreshed. Relaxed. We all felt much closer after that night. Already planning our next time out. I figured out along the way that to make friends I had to be a friend. To not be afraid to put myself out there and see if anyone else had the same needs as I did. By asking I quickly found out that yes, they did.

This week one of the moms is coming over for dinner with her kids because her husband is working out of town this week too. On Saturday a bunch of us are going to be attending a baby and children's expo while taking shifts volunteering in the breastfeeding room and offering support to other moms.

Not everyone has been so welcoming or warm and fuzzy of course. There are those that complain but make no effort to come out with u and break the isolation. I know I was that person for a while myself but once I stopped flaking out on these things myself and started participating I realized it was filling a huge void I had created. I'm much happier because of it.

We don't all agree on everything. I'm the least crunchy of the group as I vaccinate, work full time outside the home, have hospital births and don't buy all organic food. No one condemns me for my choices and I don't condemn them either. We respect each other and that should be the core of every friendship I think.

So where am I going with this?

Well if you're a new mom or a semi new mom this is my advice to you. Get out of the house. Sometimes without your child. It took me twenty months to start doing that and being on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Find other moms. Your friendships with childless friends are going to change. They don't understand the sleepless nights or the fascination with each milestone. That' s okay. Other moms will though and sometimes you need reassurance that what you're doing is okay and right. Have someone who is willing to meet you at the McDonald's play area as your only source of adult interaction that day. I have moments where if I hear Elmo one more time I may scream. That's when we start texting and meet at the park.

You NEED that.

Occasionally - let someone else watch your kids. I had a hard time with that. Amazingly enough though, my husband, my sister and my parents are all perfectly capable of taking care of Jellybean. In fact all of them have taken care of kids and some have raised a few well into adulthood without too much lasting damage!

You are still a priority. Your child will be a happier child if his or her mom makes time for herself. If they have a mom who has s a friend that understands how annoying it is to have her other nipple treated as a pull toy during a nursing session - they may not get weaned when Mom feels touched out.

Cut yourself some slack and realize that being Supermom is a tall order and sometimes its not worth the title.

Occasionally its fine to just be plain old Mom who wants to finish a meal. Pee with the door shut or get to the bottom of a cup of coffee without reheating it twice.

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