Ask any mother and she can tell you about “that moment”. Some of us call them “bad mommy moments; some of us call them mistakes; all of us call them disastrous. Anyone who says motherhood is not filled with challenging moments is lying through her teeth.
We all know a heavy load is easier to bear when more than one person is helping to carry the weight. Motherhood works in much the same way when you have a network of mothers on whom you can rely – the difficult moments are easier to bear.
All mothers should have a space where they can talk, vent and say the things they think they’re not supposed to say. Whether that connection is with a group of women online where anonymity is preserved or with an alliance of friends with whom she can confide – the space to open up, to question, and to engage is crucial.
Mothers should have people they can rely upon in their toolbox of resources. Many of us live far away from extended family and do not have the benefit of relying upon nearby help. Others have family members who are not available to help or whom they do not want to call upon for help. Identifying people who can be called upon in “emergency” is one important step to building a support network.
A support network is filled with people whom you can call upon to lend an ear, a hand, or their advice. Some women in your network may be close friends. Others may be acquaintances you see on a weekly basis because your children are in the same swim class. Moms need to set aside their hesitations and start to use each other for help and support.
Go-to gals are women identified as role models, friends, or mother experts. Don’t hesitate to approach a woman whose parenting style you’ve always admired. Seek other moms who have similar mothering situations (ie – closely spaced children) at mom groups or preschool to connect with and share ideas with. Make a pact with a close friend to rely on each other and reach out to each other when you really need extra support.
It may feel uncomfortable to reach out to someone you admire. Look at it from the other women’s point of view – how honored would it be to hear that someone admires your parenting and would like to use you for a sounding board or to seek your advice!
Read mom books or blogs to discover that you are not alone. Join an online community of women who share mothering advice, support and a space to let it loose.
Look in your community for mom groups run through the local hospitals, libraries or park districts. These are all great ways to meet and connect with other mothers.
Initiate conversations with your own mom or grandmothers about mothering. Despite the changes throughout time, their feedback and thoughts will still be beneficial. If mother figures in your family are not the right sources of support for you, seek older women in your church or synagogue or who you might meet through other avenues and welcome their wisdom.
A network of support is one of the crucial elements to preserving a mother’s sanity. Moms must embrace courage and not be afraid or embarrassed to reach out to other mothers for support. When mom has a support network in place, the difficult moments can be laughed at (once they’ve passed), an understanding shoulder will always be there to lean on, and alternative solutions are just a phone call away.