Find Your Tribe and Love Them Hard August 12 2015
Yesterday I shared a blog post that really resonated with a lot of the Flat Out Mummies on Facebook. It talked about the early days with a newborn and how hard it can be. Titled “When love feels heavy” by N'tima Preusser, it was shared with me initially by a young Mum I know who reads the Coffee & Crumbs blog. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.
It got me thinking about just how hard women can be on themselves and each other and I wanted to share my thoughts again on this.
I am really worried about all of the young Mums using social media as their benchmark for what most Mums are doing.
You are all smart women and I just wanted to remind you, not to believe everything you see.
As you know, it is rare to show an ugly photo of yourself or an unflattering angle of your screaming baby. When you’re having a crap day and nothing seems to be going your way, normally this is not what you are posting. You know this.
The whole reason for Flat Out Mum is to remind you day in and day out that this motherhood gig is hard. It is not as glamorous or as predictable as our previous lives, but that is OK. We all know why it is better and how it is better, even though it takes some time to get used to your ‘new normal’.
I want Flat Out Mum to reflect the realities of motherhood and perhaps provide some tips (and soon products) that will make life just that little bit easier.
I want Mums to read it and feel better, to feel normal. I want them to know that even the Mums with the most pristine exterior’s often struggle on the inside too. If someone is making it look easy, they are probably lying about something. Surely right?
Don’t do that.
My first tip is the most important. Find other Mums that you relate to, not that you have on a pedestal. The ones who will let you come to their house without tidying it up beforehand. The ones who will bring you a block of chocolate after hours and just sloth with you on the couch. The ones where your friendship doesn’t miss a beat when you finally ring them back when your baby is 6 months old. The one’s who you don’t feel embarrassed to tell that actually today I couldn’t stand my kids.
A line at the end of the aforementioned blog piece inspired my second tip:
“I beg you, embrace that things will always feel unfinished. Let unfinished be okay. Let unfinished be enough”.
You need to find your new normal and be okay with it. Life will never be the same, so just give in to it and ‘embrace the chaos’. No-one is judging you and if they are, stay well clear. Find the Mums that laugh at your daily dilemma’s and then share one of theirs with you too. Hang out with people who lift you up.
Re-adjust your priorities, lower your expectations of how much you can accomplish each day and how you want to look and feel 24/7. Do your best to be positive and see the best in each day, but quickly move on from the bad days. Have you noticed how quickly a toddler can recover from the most almighty tantrum? Five minutes later….all cuddly and innocent.
Upon finding your new normal, learn to ask for help. Learn that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. People actually want to help and it makes them feel better and that they’re important to you. Likewise, ask friends (especially those with newborns) how you can help them. Or just arrive for your (invited!) visit with your famous lasagne, pop it in their freezer and text them later with the lovely news. Rather than expecting someone to clean their house and be your waitress upon your arrival, come bearing a cafe bought coffee and offer to fold their clean washing while you chat. This is the type of friend they need.
I know that with motherhood comes a change in friendship groups. Life evolves and people come and go out of our lives. Sometimes this is really sad. Never did you think that you could be so distant with your high school BFF. Never did you think that you’d get along so well with that eccentric girl from Mother’s Group. Life often delivers what you need right now and so embrace that.
You’ve heard the lingo, so go and find your tribe, get your little girl gang together or assemble your sisterhood somehow. They will be your saviours.
This reminds me of a very interesting conversation I had recently with a great friend of mine who’s Father had passed away. We could relate and talk openly about how our Mums were left alone and how to try to support them. She confided that the best support to her Mum were the friends that she had made long ago when they all had very young kids. Many she hadn’t been close to once her kids left primary school and being in the generation without social media, she had unintentionally lost contact with many.
But their bond was strong. Their bond was real. They found her again at her lowest low and came back with a vengeance.
You see, they formed their friendships when life was not all rosy. When they were in the trenches together raising young children. They had become friends in some of the most testing times of their lives. They saw the unwashed hair, the messy homes and the scrapped together meals. They saw the tantrums and the tears, and it wasn’t just from the kids. They pitched in and helped each other and laughed along for the ride. Now of course, they look back at those crazy sleepless years as some of the best.
Do you see my point? Let those women in, let them see you warts and all. They will love you more for that and they will let you see a side to them that makes you feel better about yourself, not worse.
So...in the article the writer talks about sitting at a baby shower watching the innocence and naivety of the expectant Mum and “wanted so badly to prepare my friend somehow for the wave that was about to wash over her”.
I too have had this dilemma many times. No-one wants to be the bearer of bad news so we sit politely basking in all the positives of parenthood. I don’t suggest being the killjoy, but by portraying a realistic view of the daily grind of motherhood we are making it easier for those that come after us. By extending a helping hand and not judging, we will slowly chip away at that facade.
In the meantime, choose your tribe carefully and love them hard. The bonds that you are making today will see you though the rollercoaster that is life. Let the fair-weather friends fly off that rollercoaster at each turn and eventually you and your little girl gang will be screaming with delight at the ride. And what a ride it is.