Tish welcomed her daughter Zoey in the spring and has been riding the new-mommy roller coaster ever since. She’s with us today to share how important it is to build a network of mom friends who’ve been there, done that!
Our loved ones share so many suggestions with us moms on what is good for our new mommy souls. (Cue Yael Naim’s song “New Soul!”) We’re told to get outside as quickly as possible for sanity’s sake. We’re strongly encouraged to shower once a day (although that may be for our partner’s sanity, too) and told to sleep when the baby sleeps. This all helps us to not lose our ish when the proverbial baby poo hits the fan — and it will hit the fan more often than not. There’s one piece of advice I learned on my very own that I will now share with you: Sharing is essential for a mama’s soul.
This doesn’t mean you have to run to Facebook and tell the world what color poop your kid made today. There’s a tricky line that has to be walked I’ve learned, but it’s worth it for the benefits.
Sharing wasn’t something I initially thought I’d do, which is a surprise considering my Instagram account is full of my day-to-day baby pics, but I’ve also learned a mom should never say never unless she’s cool with all those nevers becoming permanent friends in her home.
So here’s how I basically learned about the art of the share: I was drowning in postpartum baby blues around the six-week mark, and all I saw were social media moms doing the damn thing. They were getting dressed and putting on makeup. Their kids were happy and independently playing, and I was sitting at home in a dark room (this is before I started taking the “get outside” advice) crying onto a two-day old T-shirt while rocking my crying baby. I looked on countless mama pages and didn’t see one mom struggling. My mom asked for a pic of me because she knew I was drowning and wanted to see the damage.
I cried the moment I saw the sad, tired eyes looking back at me on my cell phone screen. I decided to post a picture on Instagram and share a real moment. I wrote about how hard it was and how I was struggling with everything related to being a mom. Comments, phone texts and calls started pouring in. Moms with hundreds of thousands of followers who people go to for mom advice reached out and told me that they too cried every day for the first three months. People opened up and I found myself feeling a sense of relief that what I was going through was completely normal. Moms shared tips and tricks to help the both of us get to a better place. I formed text messaging crews I could gab with to feel more connected.
Within a day I was making plans to meet up with a mom friend, and I swear I felt a ton of mommy guilt and despair lift off me. I shared, and empathetic, good souls found me and lifted me up. I found mommy magic and it saved me. There’s something amazing that happens when you learn you’re not alone.
Sharing honest moments of my experience has become the norm now. I share the good and the bad. I go to breastfeeding support groups and I raise my hand and share with newer moms HOW it gets better and let them know they’re not alone. It’s a powerful exchange and you can see the physical pains lift as hope enters their tired eyes when you share.
Don’t get it twisted, though. I mentioned previously that sharing is a fine line. There are some moments on social media where I’m physically uncomfortable by the type of sharing occurring. When you’re using your child and your experiences as a tool to get attention, you’re opening up a problematic can of worms. The purpose of sharing should always have positive intentions. You should share when you’re looking for answers or advice and not for likes or validation, and that proves hard for some. Getting likes, laughs or high-fives at the expense of your child isn’t going to cure your mama woes; it’s just a post that will be forgotten as new feeds pop up, only to reemerge years later when your kid somehow stumbles upon a blurb about him or herself on the internet you posted and feels embarrassed as heck.
Like every tip the Fit Bottomed Mamas share, you have to maintain a healthy balance … or a healthy juggle because we all know there’s no true balance when babies enter the picture. Now that I have my core mama circle, I don’t find the need to share as often. It’s when I send out my current predicament and they all come back scratching their heads that I take it to Instagram or Facebook or my blog and BOOM! Help and sanity comes back and my child gets a Merlin Sleep Suit or whatever magical device that has made our lives easier.
But even better: I have new mamas that have added me to their text message crews and reach out when they’re struggling with something. I find myself sharing what worked for me and how we pulled through — and that too feels good. You give what you get and the Fit Bottomed Mamas keep making the rockin’ world go round.
Did you find comfort in other moms with little ones when you became a mom? —Tish Arana