When my husband and I first became pregnant with our son we were simply beside ourselves. Just three months prior we were surprised to find out that we were pregnant the first time and unfortunately at 5 weeks I had lost the pregnancy. Then, after some time and the realization that we were ready to make that leap into parenthood we were officially on the path to trying to conceive (TTC to all those baby message board friends). No matter when one loses a pregnancy it takes a hard toll on your mind, body, and soul, and although we weathered that storm I found strength through my faith and marriage, which made us that much more determined to welcome this little baby into our family. Fast forward to today and baby Greyson has enriched our lives in so many ways within the few months he’s been with us.
When deciding to have a baby there’s a lot to consider and spending 9 months to prepare yourself for what life would cease to be like in exchange for a new normal is a lot to take in. For example, we had only been living in CA for about a year and a half before getting pregnant and were enjoying the opportunities to travel, wine taste, and pretty much do all the things we felt like like easily spending a few hundred dollars on ourselves or a good meal out. Not to mention I had started a new job as did my husband and a baby wasn’t so much in the plan. Then as life would have it, one pregnancy test later and we were on the journey that would bring us to where we are today and that’s (still) figuring this whole parenting business out.
All while without a village to rely on. But do we really need one?
New moms are told from the very beginning by society, and preconceived notions, that they NEED a village in order to raise their children. A notion that equates us to chickens with our heads cut off until an older and wiser adult comes along to guide us into proper parenting. It’s a perception that family and friends should descend upon your home with favors of cleaning, cooking, and watching the baby while you slept. Although we had friendly neighbors to help us with many of those things, my husband and I had to figure out most of those first few weeks and months on our own due to our families living so far away.
Was I sleep deprived and delirious those first few days home with the baby? Yes. Was my husband also attempting to figure this whole newborn thing out with me while continuing to work? Yes. Did we learn to stagger sleep schedules just so one of us could have enough energy to lift just one eyelid to change a diaper at 2am? Without a doubt. But we made it; we survived and I personally feel more accomplished as a new mom that we figured it out on our own not simply because we are super parents or looking for praise but because we had to.
Since becoming a mother for the first time I have found a purpose I never knew before. I have found confidence and unwavering patience due to the struggles I’ve faced on those tough days. I have learned a new role and dynamic within my marriage that wouldn’t have existed should Greyson had not come along. These are the mommy milestones that are overlooked when becoming a new parent – and I can say that I wear it proudly even in the face of not having a traditional village to help guide me.
Philip’s parents had stayed with us from birth up until a few weeks after Greyson came home. They helped (and continue to) financially with all the preparations for baby as well as providing groceries and taking care of our dog while we were at the hospital. I am grateful for them during such a transitional time, but they eventually went home – leaving us to continue figuring this whole parenting thing out ourselves. It continued to be hard, tiring, frustrating, but immensely joyful and exciting all at the same time.
Eventually us mothers must figure this out for ourselves and no amount of assistance can do that for us.
I’m not saying that a new mom should turn down help when it’s offered or available to her – Lord knows I need it from time to time! But, when said new mom lives thousands of miles away from family the responsibility and lessons learned about caring for a newborn far outweigh what she would have learned about herself as a mom if it were done for her. It is my opinion that moms should struggle a bit, as ludicrous as that sounds. Struggling provided me with a newfound sense of confidence and desire to learn the little nuances of my baby – things that only a mom would discover. When that precious baby lands in your arms it’s not as though you just automatically know him or her – it’s a relationship that over time you each learn more and more about. It’s a beautiful thing and parenting is just the same – it’s relational and takes time to figure out.
I’m the mom without a village and it turns out that your village is exactly what you make of it. I understand that I am probably in the minority of women who would rather do things without the help, but I also acknowledge the times when I do need it and have no problems asking for it – knowing that our village has become the few close friends we have out here. I have enjoyed getting to experience the complexities of parenthood rather than my struggles be circumvented by others stepping in. A quote by Linda Wooten puts it best: “being a mother is about learning the strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with the fears you didn’t know existed.” Being a mom is scary, but looking at yourself in the mirror knowing you’re badass for finding your strength outweighs the struggles you may experience – whether you have help or not.