The Sisterhood of Motherhood
A friend with a baby a few weeks older than my Finn pointed out to me the other day, that her son has been out of her belly longer than he was in it now. What an astonishing fact this was to me. How fast it all went by. Yet, in the last 8 months my son has become such an integral part of my life, that it is hard to imagine what it was like before he arrived. The bond we share truly did start when he was in the womb, and the never ending summersaults and kicks he completed during his confinement very much were an indication of the crazy little mover he would be “on the outside”.
However, Finn isn’t the only relationship which has grown over the past 8 months. I have entered into the Sisterhood of Motherhood.
I remember sitting in the meeting room of a local pub in a circle of people which alternated between round tummies and husbands sipping pints, as we discussed perineal massage and latching techniques. But it wasn’t until we had all clumsily struggled, even in pairs, to put a nappy on a doll, that I knew that we were starting a journey together.
How to Recruit Allies
When faced with the often overwhelming task of becoming a parent I knew I would need help. The amount of information one seems to need be “successful” is both never ending and often contradicting. So I read the books and I asked the health care professionals. I studied hardcore for the adventure I was about to embark on. However, as the months went on and my belly grew bigger, I still felt unprepared. Living in a country with no family, and no close friends within a 2 hour drive, I knew I would need more help.
I needed allies. I needed someone I could message at 2 am when my baby decided sleep was something other babies did. I needed someone I could discuss baby led weaning recipes with when the 6 month point arrived. I needed allies to share my highs and my lows of parenthood. I needed someone in the same boat as me, or someone who had already survived it, and I needed them now.
The first step to recruiting allies, is getting over your ego and admitting you need them. The truth is no matter the task at hand, you probably can do it alone. But accepting that you can do it better, faster, and stay happier during the process if you had help is hard for us to swallow sometimes.
The next step is being an active recruiter. You cannot sit back and hope that the right people will enter your life at the right time. You have to find them. You have to search for those that have already achieved what you are out to achieve, and those that are embarking upon the same goal as yourself.
The final step is to be brave. You have to be outgoing, you have to feel awkward. If you don’t feel like you are stepping out of your comfort zone you aren’t trying hard enough. It can leave you feeling raw to open yourself up to other people during challenging times in your life, but guaranteed the payoff is worth the risk.
To recruit our parenting allies my husband and I signed up for local parenting classes. We did not learn much at all from the instructor of the course, but I still learn something new every single day from the mothers I completed it with. My allies. My Sisterhood of Motherhood.
Why You Should Recruit Allies
Recruiting allies in an essential component to building a sturdy foundation from which we can grow safely, and confidently. It is with a helping hand that we can accomplish anything. Sure we will have our mishaps and small failures along the way, but if we can fall from those failures into a support network of allies then we will be lifted back up again in no time. Lifted back up not only by their encouragement, but by the power it gives us to believe in ourselves, to know we are not alone.
The way I always envisioned it is there is this distinct line in the sand between parents and non-parents. Before I became a mother I found other mothers intimidating. How did they know how to do everything? Did I miss some essential step in my development as a women where you become endowed with the knowledge of how to look after a baby with a cold, or adequately pack a diaper bag?
Once I entered into motherhood I discovered a secret society; the Sisterhood of Motherhood. How do mothers know everything about having kids? Because they learned it from another mom. The sisterhood of motherhood is better than a whole library full of books, better than any google search you can perform. It’s forgiving, it’s understanding, and often it’s hilarious.
How to be a Good Ally
What you put out into the world is sure to find its way back to you. So remember to always be a good ally yourself. Listen to what others are going through without judgement, and try to find the ways you can encourage. That isn’t to say you must always pretend that others haven’t made mistakes, but rather than only focus on what has gone wrong try a “good news sandwich” technique for your delivery. Find two aspects in which they have excelled, and use it to buffer the bad news, by delivering it in between.
Be available. Time is often the greatest gift we can give as an ally. Taking a new mother’s baby for a walk around the block so she can nap for an hour, is a better gift than any expensive choice off the baby registry.
There is no competitiveness or shaming in my group of allies, in my Sisterhood of Motherhood. If you find that the people in your life are making you feel guilty or always trying to one-up you, you need to start over again at step one and recruit new allies. Likewise, never make someone else feel this way.
My Success Story
I am not a perfect mother, but I am happy, my baby is healthy and contented, and I love our life together. I owe a huge part of this to the Sisterhood of Motherhood. To the allies I recruited. To my own mother and to my sister in law, who have been through it all and lived to tell the tale, and taught me from their wealth of knowledge and experiences. To the instant friends I have made all over the world, simply because we can bond over the camaraderie of both being mothers. Including most recently, the lovely ladies of the South who helped me cope with leaving my son with a babysitter for the first time at a wedding we attended last week. Finally, to the moms-to-be I met when they had babies in their bellies, who I have shared maternity leave with, messaged at all hours of the day and night, and who have raised healthy and contented little ones of their own.
There aren’t enough words in the world to express by gratitude to The Sisterhood, but I will start with thank you for helping me become a mother, its the best thing I have ever done with my life.
What about you? What’s your brotherhood or sisterhood? Whatever it is and wherever you are it’s worth it, so head out and make your allies.
Main photo by Patrick.