I’m convinced that modern America is “doing it wrong” when it comes to helping moms adjust to new motherhood.
While in some traditional cultures it was common practice for a woman who just gave birth to rest and recover for weeks while her female family members and friends attended to her, and for families to live in close proximity, we modern women may feel at times like we’re going it alone, or feeling a lot like our lives were pulled from the pages of The Feminine Mystique.
I remember in the early months of new motherhood feeling like the so-called “anthropologist on Mars.” I didn’t understand the language or the customs. My existence changed overnight, and everyone was speaking a foreign language that seemed to revolve around Dora episodes, toddler gymnastics classes, and thrush.
I was caught in a sort of purgatory where I didn’t know how to talk about these things yet, but struggled to find common ground with my childless friends since my existence was so radically different.
Like all transitions, things eventually reach an equilibrium and start feeling normal again.
This can be a great way to meet like-minded moms going through similar experiences. I developed several close friendships through a breastfeeding support group I attended in my early months of parenthood.
Join a group for jogging moms. Or working moms. Or Christian moms. Or yoga moms. Or moms who are struggling with post-partum depression.
Full disclosure: These in no way resemble the Girls Night Outs of your past, so throw that ridiculous notion right out the window and accept that the words “night” and “out” are complete misnomers.
Your evening out will consist of dinner at 5:30 at a quiet restaurant with a glass of wine. The restaurant will be no more than 12 minutes from your homes because everyone has to get home for the bedtime routine. But my friends and I swear by these as sanity-savers.
Okay, you’re probably not tackling any Dostoyevsky novels in your early weeks, but it’s important to maintain interests outside of your baby to feel a sense of being part of the larger world.
Join up with some other ladies with the goal of indulging in some Janet Evanovich or Jennifer Weiner fare. No high art allowed.
These moms can be a wonderful source of wisdom, and provide a broader perspective around parenting practices in different generations. Note: Tread carefully.
I’ve noted through careful observation that while some veteran parents provide a calming oasis of support, others forget how hard the early days are and are quick to undermine your confidence with holier-than-thou comments. (“I never tolerated tantrums, so my kids never had them.”) Spare yourself.
In a similar vein, don’t give up the things that excited you prior to having kids, but recognize they may take on a different form. Running may now involve a BOB stroller. Volunteering may be done partly toward the end of teaching compassion. Your love of writing may initially be channeled toward a journal commemorating your child’s milestones.
Be patient with yourself, momma.