I’ve never needed support more than I have since becoming a mother. There is no real way to prepare for motherhood. It doesn’t matter how many books you read, how much advice you’re given, or how many ready-made casseroles you have in your deep freeze. Motherhood must be experienced to be understood, and even at that, most of us still feel lost and alone at some point.
When you have a new baby, the support floods in from everywhere. In fact, there is so much help and support, you have to turn people away just to get a moment of peace, to catch your breath. When I was a first-time mom, nothing caused more stress and unease than people asking to visit. All of them were well-meaning, of course, but I didn’t want visitors. I wanted a few weeks to get my feet underneath me. I didn’t want anyone to hold my daughter, or the parade of germs and unsolicited advice. I just wanted solitude. Overwhelmed doesn’t begin to describe how I felt.
I called my mom, texted my best friend, and cried to my husband a lot during those first few months. Each time, I was met with the support I needed. They calmed my fears, encouraged me, and placed me gently back on my feet. I would have been lost without them. But eventually, like it happens for most new mothers, the lines of communication and pre-made casseroles faded away. People stopped checking in to see how I was doing, and before long, life was back to a normal. Well, the new normal, that is.
But here’s the thing: mothers really never stop needing support. People will beat down your door for the chance to sniff a newborn, but no one brought me a casserole or a free box of Pull-Ups when my toddler refused to potty train last year. No one offered to fold the mountain of laundry on my sofa last week when my kid was sick, and I felt like my world was on fire. And while these are extremely specific examples, the point is, mothers will always need support, because this job is damn hard.
Of course, I would never expect anyone to fold my laundry, but I could’ve really used some emotional support, because the struggle doesn’t stop once the babies aren’t babies anymore. Arguably, it only gets more difficult, and support is literally everything when you are knee-deep in the trenches of motherhood.
We are tasked to be strong and resilient, but we question ourselves all the time, because who really knows how to raise a kid? We worry we aren’t making the right choice for our family. We lose our temper and then feel ashamed and defeated. We try our damnedest to keep it all together, because we are the glue, and we take it on ourselves to hold all the little pieces in place.
Motherhood is physically and emotionally exhausting, whether you have a newborn, a toddler, a grade-schooler, or a teen. We don’t always allow the grace for ourselves that we would give to others. We hold ourselves to a higher standard, because we want the absolute best for our families.
Sometimes we stumble. Sometimes we fall. And sometimes, it feels impossible to get back up. In those moments, we need support. We need someone to tell us we are doing amazing. Someone to encourage us, to make us laugh through our tears, to remind us that we are only human, and everyone deserves grace. We need someone to pick us up and set us gently back on our feet, so tomorrow, we can try again.
I called my best friend when my nearly four-year-old refused to potty train. She peed on everything in my house, and held her poop until it, literally, became a medical emergency. It was an all-time low in motherhood-morale around my house. Everyone cried at some point, and I felt like an utter failure. My friend told me her son had done the same thing. She reassured me, encouraged me, and made me laugh when my cheeks were streaked with tears.
“Who cries over poop like this?!” I laugh-cried.
“Mothers,” she said.
Mothers. We are an elite group. This job is not for the faint of heart, and no one understands our struggle quite like another mom. We need to be there for each other as often as we can. We need to check-in with one another, not just when things are going bad, but for no reason at all. Mothers never stop needing support. This job never gets easier, but a little love, a little laughter, and unwavering support can sure make it a bit more manageable.