My sister-in-law recently had her first baby. Being an aunt for the first time has me over-the-moon, head-over-heels in love all over again. I can’t wait to spoil this baby boy with love in the same way that Larisa has always spoiled mine.
As I was thinking back to those days of being a first time mom, I realized that if I had only one wish for her it would be this: to have a support network of other moms that looks and feels a lot like the one I am blessed to have. All the other wishes for health and happiness and a good sleeper are inherent; but a support network of moms has been one of the greatest gifts on this journey and I am not quite sure where I would be without them.
I am lucky to have all kinds of moms in my life. I have moms who have known me forever. Who trust me. Who believe in me. And who are often more tenured at this motherhood thing than I am. These moms become my go-to. They reassure me when I find myself in doubt. They offer advice without judgement. They are patient and they don’t think twice when my toddler is overtired or when my four year old refuses all food choices. They just pour me a glass of wine and reassure me not to worry.
I have other moms in my life that get to be more present than I am during the week. When I am working full time at my job, they are working full time at home and happily give rides, schedule playdates, provide lunches, offer outings and send pictures to keep me involved with it all. These moms become my extension when I can’t be there and there is no greater gift or reassurance.
Luckily, there are moms that help provide perspective – that this phase or this challenge is not unique and it is fleeting. They provide balance, calm and humor to help get me through it all. They have been there. They have done that. And they understand.
And then there is my mom. And my mother-in-law. And aunts and grandmas and the like. And I can’t help but feel guilty because of how much I take without being able to give as much in return. It often feels like I live a life of half conversations, starting sentences or asking questions without being able to finish or even fully listen. My time and attention are always being pulled by countless calls of, “Mama!”, toddlers that need rescuing, band-aids that need application (IMMEDIATELY), hungry mouths that need to be fed or tears that need to be wiped . And my mom and my mother-in-law continue to give, in spite of it all. They give me their patience, their time, their support, their assurance, their love, their example…and let’s not forget the countless hours of babysitting. They do all this without ask, without complaint and without any expectation of return. Hence the guilt. I only wish I could give as much in return as they give to me; but between now and then, what they are teaching me is how I can pay it forward. One day I will have the chance to give without any expectation of return. I will cherish those moments with my daughter or niece or daughter-in-law where they are being pulled in million directions and I can be there to help, to assure, to smile and to give all these wonderful gifts that have been so generously given to me. Thank you just doesn’t seem to do it justice.
On Hillside Lane, we are so lucky to live in a wonderful neighborhood filled with lots of kids, young families and fantastic moms. When we moved in I was pregnant with our first and these moms were already well into the trenches of life with multiple little ones. These ladies totally took me under their wing. They gave support, they sent hand me downs and their example gave me guidance of how to manage the day to day with babies and toddlers and all that comes with it. We had a new couple move into our little neighborhood this Spring and they are pregnant with their firsts – twins! As I was introducing myself and that our third is due just a month after theirs, I realized that I was now that mom that is well into the trenches. I was lucky to have gained a neighborhood support system that comes without pretense and armed with plenty of Friday margaritas. That’s the type of mom I want to be.
Being a mom is a constant learning curve, but one thing I am sure of is that being surrounded by wonderful moms makes the journey a whole lot sweeter. I don’t know much for certain when it comes to parenting, but I do know that any successful attempt comes with a healthy dose of humility, humor and grace. I am lucky to be surrounded by moms who teach me this every day. They are friends in every sense of the word. They make me a better mom and I can’t put into words how forever grateful I am to have them in my life.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms in my life. You all deserve it.