You can’t survive motherhood alone. Period. With a brand new baby I showed up at mommy events designed for the isolated, family out-of-town mother to bond with other moms only to be asked to work in childcare (What?) or to meet women who lived an hour’s drive across town or just to leave feeling rejected in some way. Wasn’t I the pretty, involved, musically talented teenager who qualified for a highly-select college with professionals at the highest level of accomplishment? What happened to popular me? Now I was the slightly pudgy (from pregnancy), perpetually tired, slightly out-of-fashion maternity clothes who was always asking for a babysitter. People started to avoid me when I would arrive. What is she asking for now? I was thinking THEY were thinking.
The album for my friend’s family is called “Good Times.” Our smiles in these select twenty photos don’t reveal our exhaustion, our health problems, our recent fight with our spouse, our disagreements or disappointments with each other, our own insecurities with our body image, relationships and extended family. But we survived and even overcame and thrived despite these things partly because we found each other. Closer with some women at certain times than others- that too changed as time went by. The woman with whom I currently communicate most was probably the woman I knew the least at the time of the photo. Now our kids play on the same sports teams and we see each other frequently. Of the other four, one lives in an adjoining neighborhood and we occasionally bump into each other on a walk, two moved out of the country (and then one of those died), and one lives a few miles away with kids at different schools and in different activities (she has boys and I have girls). Our lives has drastically changed since this photo was taken. We no longer need each other the same way. But speaking for myself- I don’t know what I would have done without this support group when my girls were babies.
All of the women in this tribe shared a few characteristics: our families were all out-of-town, we were all married to highly educated men who primarily worked in the high-tech industry, we had all graduated from college and worked at a job. And most of us had some serious hobbies with which we could throw ourselves into during the drudgery of motherhood.
It was drudgery that nobody could have prepared me for. No amount of babysitting, educational observations, or other preparation would have made a difference. It was sink or swim.