There is a special place for moms with small children, and no, I’m not thinking about sitting in a quiet closet with a pint of ice cream — although that does sound divine. I’m talking about in the presence of other moms with small children. There is something to be said for a group of moms who get it.
Before I had my daughter, I lived in some sort of La La Land with blissful visions of motherhood consisting of restful sleep, limitless energy, and never-ending patience. You all know how that ended the minute she was born.
Too exhausted to figure out how I could survive the crazy train I was on, I pushed through, barely. It wasn’t until I had hit rock bottom on my favorite holiday that I knew there had to be a better way.
The energy on Valentine’s Day speaks to my soul, and I crave being surrounded by love on this day especially.
Rewind to Valentine’s Day 2014. My daughter is two — too young to understand this date. She sits in her highchair, pulverizing a chocolate frosted cupcake and smiling wide with rainbow sprinkles stuck to her cheeks. Her vibe speaks directly to my heart and soon I’m chuckling even though inside, I’m crumbling like her cupcake.
I’m sad because we moved into a new house and a new neighborhood the week prior. My husband is at work, and I know absolutely no one here. I want to celebrate this day on a grander scale. I hide in the bathroom for a quick minute (because we all know anything longer could result in an even stickier situation) to let my tears fall. It is then that I make a promise to myself and to my daughter that next year will be different. I knew this heartache stemmed from loneliness and compounded on my favorite day.
Fast forward to Valentine’s Day 2015. My daughter sits in a big girl chair with frosting and sprinkles on her face, but this time she’s surrounded by other frosted faces too. There are heart plates full of sugar cookies, bowls of frosting and sprinkles, and paper hearts strung from the kitchen ceiling. Moms are helping little hands decorate. I kept my promise. I joined a mom’s group and made friends.
This group of moms became my lifeline. Forcing me out of the house (in spit up splattered sweats) for playdates and fun activities. Most of the time we spent running after our children or tending to their every need. Conversations were interrupted and never finished. But we were surviving together. The discussions we did have in bits and pieces mostly revolved around tips on taking care of our children and keeping them alive. My favorite topic was mommy fails. This is where you can lay it all out and not be judged because another mother probably did the same thing. Laughing together about the time your toddler secretly toddled away from you at the store as you contemplated the best natural baby shampoo. When you realized she was gone, you frantically screamed your daughter’s name at the top of your lungs. People stared at you like you just disembarked from a spaceship, but in that moment, you didn’t care. Then your daughter peeked her head out from under the clothes rack and you breathed the biggest sigh of relief.
These friendships meant everything to me and hold a very special place in my heart. I look back on this season of my life and smile because it happened. The time has ended, but the memories remain. My advice is to not do motherhood alone. Find your moms. Your sanity is worth it.
Annie Cathryn is the author of The Friendship Breakup releasing February 7, 2023. She lives in Chicagoland with her husband and daughter.