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Fellow Parents, Be Assured: You Are Not Alone

When I became a mother, I believed I was going to be welcomed into a beautiful, secret circle of womanhood. I imagined sitting around with mothers, raising our babies together, sharing stories, making meals and contributing to each other's lives.

I was caught off guard when my first interaction with moms were negative. There was gossiping and tearing each other apart. There was comparing and a pursuit of feeling — even being — superior. I was heartbroken to find out that motherhood, at times, could be competitive.

I noticed that I became that mother. The one who judged other moms for not having their children on nap schedules. I rolled my eyes at moms walking around the grocery store feeding their kids cookies. I saw a mom trying to bribe her child with "treats," and I recall thinking to myself, "I will never do that." Fast forward six years: I have been humbled over and over again.

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I see you new parents, and I see you veteran parents. I stand with you. This is not an easy job. We've taken on a responsibility that, at times, seems impossible. One minute, you're on top of the world, everyone's fed and dressed in time for school, and the next you're at the bottom of that world. Surrounded by laundry, with kids screaming at each other. It's isolating, depressing. Where is that village that we need?

The best thing that ever happened to me was meeting three moms who created that village with me. We spent every day together. Sharing meals. Sharing stories. Laughing. Being moms and ourselves. We called each other when things were hard. We confided in each other. I couldn't believe that what I imagined was something that actually came true. It's there. It exists.

So as we enter 2015, I want to encourage all of you to find your village. And I would like to contribute to that village. Here are some things to remember when things are rough, and you're so sleepy because, for some reason, your 4-year-old has decided he's a newborn again.

  • You are not alone when you choose to nap, instead of folding the laundry or cleaning the playroom.
  • You are not alone when you feed your children dry cereal for dinner. Even though that's what they had for breakfast and lunch.
  • You are not alone when the kids have much more screentime than what's considered a healthy amount.
  • You are not alone when you lose your cool, shout and resort to bribery and negotiating.
  • You are not alone when you choose to give your baby a bottle over breastfeeding.
  • You are not alone when you rewash that load that's been in there for three days, because you forgot — or just didn't want — to move them over to the dryer.
  • You are not alone when you don't make your bed, and dishes fill your sink.
  • You are not alone when you cry because your 6-month-old broke you. Or you think they've broken you.
  • You are not alone when you have to hide in the closet to eat that ice-cream bar you've been saving.
  • You are not alone when you count down the hours until bedtime, because you're pretty sure you just lived through the longest day of your life.
  • You are not alone when you are late for the 20th time this school year, getting your kids to school.
  • You are not alone when you burn the lasagna and have to order a pizza instead. Or just eat ice cream.
  • You are not alone when your kids won't give you space, when all you want is five minutes of silence without anyone touching your face.
  • You are not alone when your child loses it in public, the way you want to sometimes.
  • You are not alone when you choose sanity over what sleep training books say, and you choose to let your baby sleep with you. And realize it's been five years that they've been sleeping with you, but at least you're getting sleep?

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Being a parent is a beautiful experience. We are all in this together. This isn't about who is doing better, or who is doing worse. This is about gathering around each other, supporting and loving. Extending grace and understanding. Stepping in and helping when we see someone struggling. Laughing and being honest with each other.

So the next time you feel discouraged, remember you are not alone. I'm there with you, and so are so many others.

Image by Margaret Jacobsen

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