I have never been a person who thrives in groups. In high school I maintained close one-on-one friendships with just a few people. In college I met my husband and it quickly became evident he would become not just my life partner but, as cliché as it sounds, my best friend. I had just one other girlfriend, who lived hundreds of miles away, who I considered close enough to be part of my inner circle. These few relationships were enough for me.
And then I got pregnant. My life was no longer about just me, or me and him. I became much more purposeful about the kind of people I wanted to surround myself with. I began assembling my village.
As luck would have it, through a series of serendipitous events, I was invited to join a group of women who were also pregnant. For most of us this marked our first venture into motherhood…a few second time mothers were regarded as the experts.
It began superficially enough-complaining about stretch marks, inability to sleep, heartburn, swollen feet…we traded pictures of bellies and swapped notes about side effects as we counted down the days together. And then the waters started breaking. Two months before my own child would come into the world we began welcoming the first babies into the group. Suddenly talk turned from pregnancy induced sleep deprivation to infant induced sleep deprivation. One you’re allowed to take Benadryl for, the other, probably not. I stayed on the edge of the group, absorbing information, watching, learning, observing.
When my own daughter came, I was in. While my own husband seemed happy enough to listen to me talk about the “aches and pains” (yeah, let’s call it that) that were the inevitable result of childbirth, this group was different. They were still in the throes of healing. All of the emotions, hormonal ups and downs, tattered bodies…they had that too.
Women supporting women. Some of us cloth diaper, some of us don't. Some of us cry it out, some of us don't. Some of us co-sleep, some of us don't. In the end, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that our children are safe, happy, and loved.
Nothing is off limits. Body image, milk production, sleep schedules, babies who fall off the couch, swimsuit styles for baby's first swim lessons (for us, not the children)…we talk about it all. And we swear. A LOT. How else do you describe your baby’s first solid poop without talking about scraping $h*t off of tiny wrinkly balls?
On top of the chatter we now trade freezer meals, meet for mommy days, work out together…there’s a camaraderie that comes from having children the same age, especially for first time mothers, and it’s something we’ve all benefited from.
Of course, the true beneficiaries are our children.
They say that it takes a village to raise a child, but in today’s society where so many of us are posted far away from our nuclear families, a village often seems like a distant dream. Even though we live in an information age, where social media connects us to one another with the click of a button, it’s easy to feel isolated. And so, the modern village has evolved. Who knew that it would take having a child of my own to crave the company of other women?
One of us joked that The Farmstead is the perfect place to start the commune. I pushed back though and said I prefer the term Intentional Community, which to me entails less sleeping with my husband and more helping with dinner. Because truly, that's what we have created. An intentional space where Mommy's are celebrated, supported, and encouraged. It's a beautiful thing, and we are more beautiful because of it.
My life is enriched by these women and I am grateful to them.