The following in an excerpt from “You’ve Got This, Mama: Journal Prompts for All Mamakind” Volume 2.
Intention for this chapter: The goal for this chapter is to recognize your need for a village while you raise your little ones.
A few years ago while I was at the gym picking my kids up from daycare a woman I’ve talked with a few times while on the treadmill came in to pick up her son after being called on the intercom. She was in the middle of potty training him and during his time in the daycare he had taken his pants down and peed in the corner of the gym play place. Every mom’s nightmare, right? When she came to pick him up she rushed him in the bathroom. She looked calm and wasn’t embarrassed, but I knew that it wasn’t her finest moment either. As parents, our days sometimes feel defined by the actions of these little people we care for. How early our kids learn to talk, walk, potty train, or ride a bike somehow becomes a ruler for measuring our success as a parent. In reality, their successes or failures should not be how we measure our performance as parents, but more by the way we love and care for them as they hit (or maybe miss?) these milestones at their own pace.
I left the gym before talking to that mom that day and felt sick for the rest of the day for not doing so. I could have said something to lighten the mood like, “One time when I was potty training my little girl she peed all over my huge pregnant belly in Target.” Or, “One time when I had just had a baby I went to a bounce house and peed all over myself when I tried to jump with my kids. So…it doesn’t make me much better off than your kid.” Or even something as simple as, “Those first few days out of the house while potty training are the WORST!” (Because they are!)
“I am constantly trying to let go of shame that comes from the fear that I am doing all of this wrong, or that no matter how hard I try, I’ll never be enough.”
Whatever it was I could have said, I know I should have said something. Because as parents of young children, we are all in this together. If we don’t stop one another to empathize and share our worst potty training stories when our kids pee on the floor, then all we have left — literally— is stinky kids and a puddle of pee. We don’t have to expose our worst flaws to make someone feel better, but it never hurts to say, “I totally know how that feels!” No one will ever be mad. In fact, they will probably feel validated and understood.
I have always been a social person and loved having a network of friends. But as I have had children I have come to need more and more support in my life. I have online groups I am a part of (like the Tubby Todd Mama Facebook Group and those I follow on social media), I have a network of friends in my neighborhood that I carpool with, I have my coworkers, my church friends, my family and my gal pals. I am one blessed individual. But, I haven’t always had lists of friends to interact with. Becoming a mom is isolating and involves changes that are sometimes out of your control. I have had a lot of lonely days when I wished I had something fun to look forward to, or a friend to meet up with. And so I have worked hard to cultivate a village with whom we can raise our family with. From these groups of women I have learned how to be a mom. I have learned “mom hacks” that have helped me hold onto my sanity during my darkest dates. Both my children and I live for lunch dates and park dates. My village is what makes life worth living and I am grateful for each member of all groups our family is involved in. I hope this chapter inspires you to find your village that will help support you as you raise your little ones. Like any relationship, friendships must be nurtured but in the end I think you will find that what you gain is even greater than what you give. Lots of love,
—Andrea Faulkner Williams
“You’ve Got This Mama: Volume 2” will be available 9/23!