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The black hole of child raising. All parents and legal guardians in our galaxy can attest to the fact that rearing tiny humans will at some point push you into this vortex of ABC’s and crumbs on your feet, 11 pounds of dry shampoo in your hair and pretending to use the bathroom for 30 extra seconds, potty charts and scribbles on every single leaf of post-it note stack. You’re caught in this weird middle ground of #timeslowdown/#letthembelittle and #hurrynaptime/#ifonlytheycouldvelcrotheirownshoes.
Maybe I’m not being fair about using the term “black hole”, but sometimes it just feels so hard to see the light. It can feel like you’re slowly disappearing, and sometimes social media just isn’t helpful either. I thought that peer pressure ended with college, but that’s just fake news. It just transformed into Instagram-ineffable posts and Pinterest-pleasing parties that make everyone swoon. I know and you know that social media is just a highlight reel, only the best features, but yet…there’s still this nagging thought that I wish I had some of those peaks. When my kid talks about her birthday parties, will she wish it had the chicest, rainbow-colored, glittery unicorn centerpieces? Probably not, and it kind of sounds silly writing it, but we all know that it can add to the exhaustive stress we put on ourselves.
Now that I’ve been in the trenches awhile, I can sense the obscurity in others, too. I pick up on that “we just sang baby shark the entire 20 minutes it took to get to the store.” I get it. I’ve felt lost, too. I’ve felt selfish because I constantly give up so much of what made me who I was. I’ve traded novels for James Dean & Pete the Cat and the morning news for Daniel Tiger. Repeat after me: I AM NOT ALONE. We’re fortunate enough to live in a big enough small town, so there are plenty of places to plug in with others with littles.
So lean in. Here are some suggestions on how to combat the very real unmooredness:
- Local Library — Ours has weekly storytime and preschool courses like Spanish, STEM, & Yoga. There are special events, music classes, and numerous adult programs, too. Just being together with others that also have children and went through the same struggle to get there on time because you accidently forgot the blue cup and had to go back is strangely comforting. (Check out Present Over Perfect or Girl, Wash Your Face or Cheers to the Diaper Years while you’re there!)
- Tinkergarten — This is a paid course, and you don’t have to sign up for every season, but it was really fun! It is outdoor-based learning that inspires children to think creatively within nature. We formed tight-knit friendships with our classmates, and couldn’t wait to go back each week. There’s Musikgarten/Kindermusik/Music Together as well — This is also a paid course although if you subscribe to emails or watch the local library’s newsletter, there are often free classes to attend, which is what we usually do. These music classes expose the children to a variety of different instruments and free movement through music education. It’s a great supplement to any other exisiting curriculum you might already have going.
- Facebook groups — You can find all sorts of resources on this platform. I’m personally involved with a meetup group of other moms in my local area. Sometimes we schedule playdates or ask each other questions. It’s a type of instant solidarity at your fingertips. There are all kinds of groups such as breastfeeding support as well.
- Bible Study — Now I know that not everyone goes to church or practices faith, but listen: meditating on the Word is renewing. Even if you’re from podunk, there is at least one church in your town with a momma with a kid that needs to get out of the house. Have a coffee or tea, read a verse together, and pray for each other’s sanity.
- Go Outside — Maybe you don’t have a park, but your local elementary school has a free playground after school hours, and someone else is bound to be there with their kids at some point.
If you’re an introvert like me, it can be so hard to connect with others, but you also don’t want to lose your mind singing 59 verses of The Wheels On The Bus, then end up snapping at your kids because you’re just drained.
I see you. Give, give, giving. We all go through seasons, and it probably won’t be the first or last time you feel like you are lost in unnavigated waters. It is totally normal to feel isolated and lonely (even if you’re never alone!), especially when you’re a new parent with a fresh baby. These are the times that are really refining and cultivating our momma selves, and a little encouragement can go a long way. It takes a village, right?
Get connected and let’s lift each other up. Intentionally find your kind. The parenthood should really be more like a neighborhood, an encouraging community that will smile and wave after a long day. Let me be the first to welcome you to the huddle.
With spirit & sass,