Finding Support as a Woman

 
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Sitting on the side of my bed, sleep still clinging to my eyes and mind, I begin to cry. I’m overwhelmed by the day ahead of me: getting my 13-year-old nephew off to school, 3-year-old Griffyn to preschool, feeding 3-month-old Gwen and reminding my 19-year-old stepson, Chucky, to fill out his loan forms for his tertiary course. And on top of that, trying to get in a few minutes of exercise, wash and “fix” my hair and possibly, if time allows, do some gardening.

It’s really a normal day, so why the tears? Why do I feel so overwhelmed?

The emotions have been encroaching on my days to the point of overflow for the past few weeks. I need to talk to someone: anyone! I endured a few days of post-natal depression when my son, Griffyn, was born. But I bounced back, excited about my new role as “mother” and what the future held. With Gwen, life was a bit busier, money a bit tighter and I was a bit older! This time, I didn’t seem to bounce back as quickly and needed support more than anything.

My husband was kind, complimentary and encouraging but he didn’t really understand the emotions running through my hormone-laden body. His wife, the love of his life, was now a different person, prone to mood swings and tears.

As I experienced the ups and downs of turning 30, having a second child in addition to other stresses, I chose not to give up but to build a support system around myself. I found this system not only got me through the day but boosted my spirits and helped me be happy once again about this fantastic career choice: mothering.

find a mentor

Glenda and Kim are mothers I admire and respect. Both have children older than mine and are women I know I can learn from. I have spent many hours with both as they listen to my concerns, hopes and dreams as a mother and wife. I have benefited greatly from their input.

Find women you admire and respect—especially ones who have children— and ask if they would be willing to be a “mother mentor” to you! It may sound a bit odd but your own mother may not always be the best person to just listen to you. Someone in your community would be perfect. If you are unsure how to go about this, just observe some of the older mothers around you—they can even be grandmothers, with more experience to draw from! Identify one or two you really admire and ask them to: Meet with you once a week or fortnight to chat about mothering; Give you advice on some areas you are struggling in; andBe confidential.

Talking to these two women helped me work out some of my own “issues,” just by verbalising them. And both women were incredibly supportive and encouraging to me in my role as a mother and wife.

get a network

Due to being sick during both pregnancies, I never joined an antenatal group and missed out on that readily- available network. It became obvious shortly after my second child that I needed an outlet with similar people, going through similar things. I talked to a few women at church and our Monday morning mother’s coffee group was born! Getting a network can be easy, depending on where you live. If you are in a community that offers antenatal groups or children’s playgroups, you have networks already available to you! If you live outside such networks: find at least one other mother who has children relatively close in age to your own and meet up once a week. You could use this network for educational purposes (such as starting solids, infant first aid, creative play ideas) or purely for a place to talk.

Being a part of my mothers’ coffee group has made a huge impact! We all have at least one child under the age of three and are each around the age of 30. Probably the best thing for me was to hear that I was not alone—that these women were going through the same things I was as a woman, a mother and wife.

be involved and serve

Giving of yourself in an area outside your actual mothering duties is an effective way to build real support.

During one of my lowest weeks, There was a knock on my door. One of my neighbours, whom I had invited to come over “whenever you can,” was standing there, obviously upset and needing to talk. Over the next two hours, she shared some frustrations and struggles. As I listened, I realised this was just what I needed: to listen and support someone else! Time and circumstances do hinder a mother’s chances to get involved.

Some options for getting involved in your church could be: offering a few hours a week at your child’s preschool or reaching out to a neighbour of any age who could use some help. The list is endless, depending on your gifts and talents, and the time available for you to serve.

Being a mother is not an easy task; many women—including myself— jump into the job with little or no prior knowledge or experience, and find themselves struggling to even make sense of daily life. There is no exact cure for the frustrations, concerns and struggles that come our way but being part of a support system guarantees you will never experience these things alone.

Take some time to see what your city, community or church has to offer, and get involved. The chance to share your thoughts and experiences with women at similar places in life is priceless.