As a new mom I struggled to create a parenting village for myself. I knew it was important and I knew I would need it. In those early months life and my own temperament conspired to keep me from building that village I so desperately needed!
We had a lot going on at the time of my son’s birth in our family.
An unwanted, and planned only by about a day, cesarean left me with a lot of emotional baggage in the months following my son’s birth. The idea of being around women I didn’t know who would most likely ask about my birth story was more than I could handle. I wasn’t even sharing with my close friends so swopping stories with strangers wasn’t even a possibility.
At the same time, my husband was struggling with a toxic work environment that was beginning to affect his health. Since that is his story, not mine, I’ll just leave it at saying this sucked up a lot of our physical and emotional energy. I still don’t know how we would have gotten through those first 4 months without my mom.
So, we had a lot on our plate! Even without all that mess my introverted self would probably have struggled building a village with the opportunities I had.
So much of the advice I received, although great, was more geared towards outgoing personalities. Go to story time at the library. Send an email out over MOTH (our neighborhood list serve for those that aren’t familiar with it) and meet other moms on maternity leave for coffee. Go to Eaters and Sleepers, a drop in “play group” for babies 0-6 months old. Go to the park and start talking with other parents you see there often.
This is all great advice. In fact, I probably have now given some of this advice out myself. But for a shy, emotionally overloaded new mom this great advice wasn’t working. It was too scary and too stressful.
What I needed was a more structured environment. A way to start talking to other parents without having to put myself out there and initiate the contact.
Maybe this need was what made Our Baby Class core postpartum series appeal to me when I first read it. Here was a space designed to be educational, but just as important, to be a space to connect and share. Connecting over sleep and babywearing, breastfeeding and how in the world do I actually get somewhere on time is a nice starting point. A basis that makes the coffee or park meet up less scary later on for us introverted parents.
But I did nothing, relying on my friends, most not parents yet, and most living in the suburbs, to carry me through. Having long term close friends is great, but having friends in your neighborhood at a similar place as you are is invaluable. It’s so much easier to make those friends with a still baby rather than a toddler that is constantly trying to escape!
So, what are you to take away from my experience?
The friends you have are still an important part of your village, but equally as important are the friends at the same place as you who are close by for the day to day reinforcement that all parents need. Whether it’s an impromptu cup of coffee, or taking the baby for an hour so you can sleep, or regain your sanity, or run an errand. Finding a way to build your village is important, but how you do it is going to depend a lot on your personality.
One thing I wish I had reminded myself in those early days is that there are lots of other shy mammas out there desperately wanting to make friends as well. And sometimes it’s finding those outgoing people to help you feel at ease while you navigate the whole parent friend process.
So, find the way that works for you and create your village!
Whether that’s an email or post in a local parenting group or a more structured setting like an Our Baby Class Core Series, there’s no wrong way to create your village!