After sleeping for what felt like minutes, I hear my son screaming, ‘I’m Hungry!’ Translation: No more sleep. I’m ready to play and I know that if I play the hunger card you won’t refuse me. I glance at the clock and see that it’s only 5:30 am. My head is spinning as I try to think of ways to calm him down before he wakes up the rest of the house. Too late.
I hear the girls talking to each other. Ok, screaming at each other. They are fighting over an old supermarket insert that came in the mail several weeks back. Trash. They are fighting over trash that is only meaningful to either of them because they both know the other one wants it. I’m taking slow deep breaths and trying to stay calm when my 8 year old son walks in angling to stay home from school today. ‘Mommy, my head hurts. My stomach doesn’t feel right. My feet are aching.’ All this before 6am!
After a series of similar hurdles, by 9:00 am all four kids are dressed, fed and off to school. After the last kiddo is dropped off, I stop, grab my phone and start dialing. I call my husband, my mom, my friends, anyone that will listen as I recant this morning’s events. It was one of those days: they don’t happen often but when they do…yikes! With each word that I speak I feel the morning’s stress diminishing and relaxation and calm returning, because there are people around me who love and support and understand me. After talking it out, I leave this morning behind me and re-center myself as I prepare for a wonderful afternoon with my kids later today.
Sup·port - a person or thing that bears the weight of something or keeps it upright. Support from my friends keeps me ‘upright’ because I know that I am not alone. They give me invaluable recognition that the challenges of life, that I am experiencing, are normal. It has long been said that “It takes a village to raise a child” and it’s true. Once you start having kids life moves at a million miles and two tweets an hour. You don’t have to shoulder the entire burden of raising children alone; it’s stressful for you and your baby. Rather, we can do it together!
Life feels a lot more manageable when you are part of a network of friends, family, community or a neighborhood. There truly is power in numbers. Having someone to talk to about your feelings, worries, and anxieties goes a long way to alleviating those concerns. Exposure to people who are in a similar phase of life is empowering. At our core, we are social beings, and as such there is nothing more powerful than companionship.
Feeling concerned that you don’t have a village? Mom lives far away, don’t have many friends that are having or have kids? Feeling isolated as you embark on the journey of parenthood? You are not alone. The village of our parent’s day doesn’t exist anymore.
The days of the family doctor and neighborhood grocer knowing you on a personal level have long since passed. But in the absence of an existent support group, I encourage you to build a village of your own. I did. Berlin Wellness Village is a village that brings peer and professional support together. Weekly prenatal, postpartum and parenting groups are available for people at any stage of this process, to come together, share their experiences, and be supported, as they glean new information from friends and village leaders.
Now it’s your turn and you are already in the right place. By connecting with wonderful organizations in your area, like Pregnancy Awareness Month, you will naturally be exposed to other individuals who are also searching to create their village and it will go a long way towards enhancing your confidence and conviction that you can do it…together!
Alyssa Berlin is a PsyD and member of the Pregnancy Awareness Month Advisory Board.