I recently received a phone call in the middle of a workday for a girlfriend of mine who is beginning to think about starting a family. She has a very tony job working in public relations for chic museums and is not at all fond of personal calls during work- with the exception of the time she abruptly interrupted a chemistry lab I was teaching early in her career with an emergency call about whether or not she should wear brown leather accessories with a black outfit because it had been done so successfully by “Buffy the Vampire Slayer during a really great season!”- so I assumed that the impending conversation would be important… or at least memorable.
“Quick!” she said. ”What is the MOST important advice you have about being a new mom that no one talks about that you wish you had known? Be honest.”
I was honestly unsure if this was her was of telling me she was expecting, or if she was trying to wrap her micromanaging mind around the unknowns of motherhood and I know that she measures every decision by weighing every fact (good, bad, or ugly) so I decided to lay it on her…
“It’s normal to want to strangle you husband for several months post partum, even though he knows your in hormone hell he will probably still think you are just plain crazy, and a diaper sprayer will be your best friend when you go to the restroom for several weeks after delivering. But as long as you can remind yourself that others people are facing the exact same thing and you aren’t a crazy person, it’s all okay!”
“Seriously…,” she sighed. “I can’t write THAT in a card for a coworker! I need the inside track on some pretty advice.”
“Oh, well is she planning to breastfeed?”
“Get her a Camelbak water bottle that is spill proof but easy to use with one hand and a box of KIND or Lara Bars to go with the card and remind her to always find a time to have a healthy snack.”
“Much prettier. Thanks!”
The conversation made me immediately thankful for the expert advice Bump Club and Beyond placed at my fingertips when I began my adventures in motherhood. Although I had purchased and read so many pregnancy and parenting books our condo was becoming a mini reference library, the opportunity to ask questions and hear each expert made the advice real instead of dealing with what sometimes feels so abstract in written form.
Even more importantly, events provided opportunities to connect with other women who were willing to share their experiences and helped me to eliminate the feeling that I wasn’t normal. Women who were ready to talk or ready to listen. I didn’t realize the true value of this community until very soon after I gave birth to Baby N.
I remember my early outings to the park with Newborn N on days that I hadn’t arranged to meet one of my new BCB mama friends for a chat- sometimes I would just push her pram in circles around the park in a deliriously tired state. On the very-rare-but-existent-unbearably-tough days I would sit down on the park bench near the playground and engage in a meaningless conversation with a mom I didn’t know very well in which I would inevitably lie and say that new motherhood was perfect, and that I was sleeping, and that I’d never been happier or more confident while I hid my teary eyes with sunglasses. And the mom I didn’t know very well would inevitably respond that yes, new motherhood was amazing, and perfect, and that she remembered always being happy too and that toddlerhood was even better and more perfect through an exasperated smile as she sprung from the bench to wrangle her toddler who was trying to scale the outside of the play structure.
I was still afraid of not looking like a good mom- and I think she was still afraid of not looking like a good mom. But how I wish we could have sat there for a moment on those days and said “Hey, you know what? Today sucks! I know things will be better tomorrow, but today being a mom is really hard.” I bet we would have both left the park to return to our respective homes calmer and more confident. Seriously, what did we really have to prove to one another?
These meaningless exchanges in the park with my un-friend made my beautiful BCB friends seem all the more valuable. I was infinitely thankful that Rainbow shared that one of her friends who had recently had a child said it was totally normal to get frustrated with you husband for the first year, that Stephanie was willing to openly discuss that fact that we both had babies who were enthusiastic and frequent criers amidst the sea of sleeping newborns we were constantly surrounded with, that Karen and I could laugh about how our bladders could betray us early on in yoga, and that Claire was ready to engage everyone in discussions about their opinions of post-partum sex lives. Because being a mom makes you more of a human, not less of one even though we become dramatically less likely to focus on our own needs.
Consequently, even though the park I now frequent has changed dramatically from Millenium Park on the shores of lake Michigan, any time I’m joined on a bench while watching N play by mama out for a stroll with her newborn I find a way to mention the fact that sweet Toddler N gave me my fair share of rough newborn days. And 99% of those conversations end with new friend hugs and a confident shrug of the shoulders that “Hey, being a mom is really tough some days!”
Motherhood is a sisterhood in the most intuitive and natural sense. Let’s make initiation as easy as possible for our new members, okay? Share your knowledge, share your trails and- most importantly- share the joy honestly.
In honor or BCB Austin’s Secrets of the New Mom Sisterhood event this week, I’ll be sharing one of my own mama secrets each dat this week. Need help connecting with your own network of sister-mamas and experts? Join BCB for the next expectant event in your city.
Wednesday, November 28th 7-9:30 pm:
Secrets of the New Mom Sisterhood
What everyone is thinking but no one is saying — join us for an exclusive BCB Panel complete with a Labor and Delivery Nurse, Midwife, Therapists, and more as they provide candid advice on what to really expect. This dinner is designed to answer your most pressing questions about having a baby! Register here. Even better, use the code CYBERMONDAY2012 for 10% off tickets on 10.26.12
Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 6:30-8:30pm:
EXPECTANT COUPLES DINNER
Baby Gear Safety with our Resident Experts, The Safety Squad. Register here.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 from 6:30 PM
Birth Centers, Midwives and Doulas… OH MY!
Join Bump Club and Beyond for an evening learning about Birth Centers, Midwives, Doulas(birth and postpartum), and the transition in to parenthood! Register here.