Tying Rafts Together
Yesterday I posted the following on Facebook, which seemed to resonate with fellow moms and women in general:
If I could give any advice to new mothers it would to tie your rafts together. When the waves get high, don't cut each other loose. Those friendships are precious and there will be a time when the waters calm and you get to float for a bit and sip your margaritas, but don't go at it alone when times are hard, because nothing is sadder than drinking alone when times are good.Early in motherhood, probably in the first six months of my firstborn's life, I felt isolated. Whether this was by my own design or a result of changing life circumstances and relationships, I didn't reach out to other women the way I should have, the way I needed to. I didn't want to be a burden; I didn't want to admit I needed help. I didn't feel worthy of help considering I only had one kid who was comparatively easy, and I was able to work part time from home. Family was great about coming into town to check in on us, but it was the day to day, the seemingly endless tunnel of broken sleep, assaulted ear drums, and piles of diapers with very little adult communication that wore me down. I had many friends in town who were all in their own homes with their own babies of the same age, but they felt worlds away. A January birth leaves a long stretch of cold until warm summer days when mama bears crawl out of their dens. I had friends without kids whom I assumed would feel used or awkward if I asked them to come over. I projected all of my own insecurities onto the community around me, cutting them short of the opportunity to help. Social anxiety built up and I even baby snots, naps and sleep as ways to duck out of church, parties, etc. We were all brand new to this phase of life, and it was hard. Change, no matter how you cut it, isn't easy.
Help doesn't always mean bringing meals and changing diapers. It doesn't necessarily involve doing at all. Sometimes help sometimes a text saying "I am thinking about you." It's a friend being real about their own struggles. It is not saying, "You
were created for this," but saying "Yes, this is hard and I'm here with you." Help is pursuit. It's communicating to another person that they are worthy of friendship and love. My second time around, I had some of these helper friends. A fellow mom with very few opportunities to sleep would send me texts at 4 am, as I would to her as well. Another mom and I would have incredibly boring but life-giving "play dates" where our little blobs would lay side by side on a blanket and wave their chubby arms around their baby-bobble-heads. Help is when a soul opens a connection to another soul and says, "You are welcome here."
Perhaps the biggest change for me as I've grown older is to trust the ropes between our rafts... or to trust those friends are still holding the end of the rope even though we are spanning across the waves. When those insecurities pop up, I'd like to say I'm quicker to give a little tug and make sure my friends are still there.