I’m surrounded by advice and well wishes, and pastel and glitter baby cards proclaiming obvious truths like, “It’s a girl!” or, “A new baby is here!”. I receive piles of sweet blankets with scalloped edges and tiny onesies emblazoned with witty alliteration and embroidered forget-me-nots. Then the baby comes with a cry and a happy flourish of helping hands and hot meals. My house buzzes with my husband bustling and in-laws simultaneously helping with generous hearts and also driving me crazy. Then they’re off to the airport, I kiss my hubby goodbye as he heads back to work, and I look around my house. It’s empty.
My arms are full. My head is spinning. My heart is bursting, and I am so, so, lonely.
I run errands and see another mom with her hair in a sloppy pony and yoga pants, a sleeping baby cocooned under a brightly printed canopy. I think: Look at me. Smile. Say something. Her eyes glance over and leave mine before I can blurt out the words, “I want to be your friend!”
Then I’m filled with relief that I didn’t say something so desperate and ridiculous as she answers her phone and chats happily to the familiar voice on the other end. Probably her best mommy friend that she does sweet mommy things with. It seems she never tastes this bright, bitter pill of utter joy, and utter loneliness.
I get into my quiet car and drive home, and wait. Wait for the next feeding. Wait for nap time, and lunchtime, and bath time. I wait for my husband to get home and before I know it, I kiss him goodbye and face another busy, mind numbing day.
In the early days, motherhood can be a confusing blend of big emotions: big joy, big awe, big love, big fear, big loneliness. Yes, enormous love, and cavernous loneliness.
I meet up with friends that were once my safe place, and they feel like strangers. It seems like they are trying to relate, They want to relate, they do, but they haven’t yet experienced the crucible of motherhood with the cries and whims of a tiny human; it’s hard for them to understand where I’m at.
When I spend time with new mom friends, they seem to already have figured out this mommy thing. They laugh and smile, carefree. Their hair looks washed and eyelashes look full with mascara. They don’t look like they want to dart and hide and shout “I can’t do this anymore!” the way I do. They seem to have husbands that are always helpful, grandmas that watch their babies in a moments notice, and other mommy besties that they go on shopping sprees with to Janie and Jack (the store we only window shop at) sipping macchiatos that somehow melt off their perfect post baby frame.
We need a village. I need a village. You need a village, sweet mama.
Some moms might be better at pretending that they have this mom thing figured out. As kids get older, we might even think we’ve figured things out, but the weight of motherhood reshapes our lives for a greater purpose, and a greater responsibility, and we will never be the same again. We suck in that first breath as the nurse places him in our arms , eyes squeezed shut from the flood of light and noise, hands clutching, lip shivering, mouth suckling, and as he draws his first breaths, we never exhale, not fully, not ever again.
I started a moms’ book club last week. I fretted, because a bunch of unfamiliar women getting together can be awkward, and loud, and uncomfortable; it can be exhilarating and beautiful.
The greatest thing happened, I never thought possible. These women started a village. It wasn’t me, it wasn’t the book. It was the beautiful majestic thing called motherhood that gave this group of women the ability to exhale (a little) to be real (mostly), because beneath that great hair is a half a can of dry shampoo, under those lulu yoga pants are unshaved legs, and within that brave mama heart is a small voice whispering, “I’m lonely. I need help. I need others.”
I’m not going to ever get it totally perfect. Yet, when I show up and admit that I need help, when I make myself vulnerable, I am able to find some of the rest my tired mama soul needs. For just a few moments amid the sticky fingers and undone to do’s, I find myself a part of a village, and I don’t feel so lonely or alone. I find a place to call home.
Lindsay Hausch is a pastor’s wife and mother of two girls. She’s a coffee drinking, cupcake-loving, wordsmith that loves leading, speaking and inspiring women to love well. Visit her corner of the world at www.lindsayhausch.com and Facebook.