Empowering and supporting moms.
The idea of a single day to celebrate our mom(s) is not nearly enough time to acknowledge the AMAZINGNESS of all the great women out there, who are putting their heart and soul, blood, sweat and tears into all they do for us. This month, we’re dedicating our work and focus to them – because ladies, you deserve all that and then some.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look of a real mom being real honest.
Written by: Erica Bartsch of Oh That Mom Glow + Women’s Fund special events & communications volunteer extraordinaire
I vividly remember the first week home with my firstborn. I had expected to bring home physical pains, but the fear, loneliness and sudden onslaught of emotions caught me completely off-guard.
When I was pregnant, I was so concerned with all the baby gear, and the classes, and the labor and delivery, but I never once stopped to think about what that very first week would be like. And honestly, no one talked about it. Logically, you know that your whole life is about to change, but no one can really explain how. That first week was the longest, most exhausting, most terrifying week I’ve ever experienced. And no one had warned me about it.
I had no idea that I would just start sobbing uncontrollably for no particular reason. Or that people asking me, “What’s wrong?” would just set me off more. Happy, sad, exhausted, stressed, unsure, in pain, overwhelmed… all ended in tears.
I had no idea that my breasts would literally add to the weight I was feeling in my chest. These giant orbs of pain just leaked everywhere and didn’t cooperate with my tiny baby. Despite all the classes and all the reading, I had NO IDEA what the hell I was doing. I sobbed over that, too.
I had no idea that I would spend hours just trying to hold my breath long enough to be certain the movement I felt was from the rise and fall of my daughter’s chest against mine. Sleep when the baby sleeps? That felt like a far-fetched dream.
I had no idea that it would be so overwhelming to just leave my own home. I stayed inside for weeks, and when I finally left the house for the first time, the panic I felt literally stopped me in my tracks. Why yes, I cried then, too. (Protip: Don’t use Walmart on a Friday night as your first trip out.)
As a brand new mother, I found myself questioning and second-guessing everything I thought and everything I did. I scoured the internet for all the best tips and ideas, and failed while trying to implement most of them. I didn’t yet know who I was as a mother, but I was certain I was failing.
I began frantically posting on social media and talking to new mom friends, just asking for anything to help with all of these areas I thought I was messing up. I thought I needed to be cooking meals, and exercising daily, and creating routines, and….showering. Turns out, all of the mothers around me had experienced these same self-doubts and same struggles to do it all. They all felt the same pressures I did, but no one was really talking about it freely. So, I did. I posted my perfectly imperfect life on social media in all its glory. My disheveled selfies, my struggles with breastfeeding, how little I was exercising and how incapable I felt.
To my surprise, other moms started to share their journeys with me. They all ate frozen waffles for supper and hadn’t showered in days. They all went to the bathroom with kids sitting on their laps and used their own clothes as tissues for their kids. They all cried so hard they couldn’t breathe, and then snorted with laughter two minutes later. They all felt like they were failing, even while they looked like beacons of light to those around them. Sharing my vulnerabilities with the world helped me to find a group of women who make me feel empowered and capable and beautiful.
We’ve all heard: “It takes a village to raise a child.”
Although I believe that to be true, I also believe that village is much more powerful when they come together to care for and empower the mother of that child. Find your village. Find a place that makes you feel whole again, and if you can’t find that place, create one for yourself.
Here are a few ways to be the village:
Empower mothers to say “no.”
Do so especially in the times when they just can’t add another thing to their plates. The word “no” is a complete sentence. It does not require justification or explanation. Guilt is not needed in our village.
Empower mothers to find time for themselves.
Self-care can be grand (like facials and massages), but it can also just mean hiding in a closet and eating candy. It can mean driving around the block for a good jam session or hearty cry. Or maybe, it’s taking a walk or reading a book. Find what feels good, and do it.
Empower mothers to ask for help.
Or better yet, offer help. Most of us are great about saying, “Let me know if you need anything,” but the truth is, most moms won’t ask for help. Think about a few things you could honestly help with and offer them up. Don’t forget to check in with your strongest friends; they may be the ones truly struggling to ask for help.
We’re in this together.
My hope for all mothers is that they can learn to embrace their realness. We’re in this together, and we all have absolutely no idea what we’re doing. This journey is tough, but you are strong. You are beautiful and capable and imperfectly perfect. Discover who you are as a mother – and embrace it! Be unapologetically you.