Why do we still say “it takes a village?”
We’re surrounded by advice and well wishes, and pastel and glitter baby cards proclaiming obvious truths like “it’s a boy!” or “a new baby is here!” , and we get piles of sweet blankets with scalloped edges and tiny onesies emblazoned with whitty alliteration and embroidered forget-me-nots, and then the baby comes with a cry and a happy flourish of helping hands and hot meals. Our house buzzes with husbands and in-laws underfoot helping generously and driving us crazy, and then we drive them to the airport, and kiss hubby goodbye, and we look around our house, and its empty.
And our arms are full; our head is spinning; our heart is bursting; and we are so. damn. lonely.
We 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. We think, look at me. Smile. Say something. Her eyes glance over and leave ours before we can blurt out the words, “I want to be your friend!”
Then we fill with relief that we 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. And she never tastes this bright, bitter pill of utter joy, and utter loneliness.
We get into our quiet car and drive home, and wait. Wait for the next feeding. Wait for nap time, and lunchtime, and bath time. We wait for our husband to get home and before we know it, we 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, big, big love… big, big loneliness.
We meet up with friends that were once our safe place, and they feel like strangers. They want to relate, they do, but they haven’t sacrificed their very life for the cries and whims of a tiny human; its hard to get it.
You spend time with new mom friends and they seem to already have figured out this mommy thing. They laugh and smile carelessly, their hair looks washed and eyelashes mascaraed. They don’t look like they want to dart and hide and shout “I can’t do this anymore!” They have husbands that are always helpful, grandmas that watch their kids 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 prayed and fretted because a bunch of unfamiliar women getting together can be awkward, and loud, and uncomfortable; it can be exhilarating and beautiful.
And 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 Holy Spirit and 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.”
It’s not going to be perfect. Nothing in life ever is. But when we admit we can’t do this alone, when we show up, when you make ourselves vulnerable, God can show up, and fill our tired mama souls up. He can give us a village; He can give us a home.