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Becoming a mother can make us feel united with others with other moms but also set apart. As we have children, each of us moms embarks on our own personal journey. As our babies grow, we respond to their needs and make choices about what is right for them and for us. No two women’s lives will be the same. No two mother’s experiences will be the same. What each of us needs is acceptance and support from our fellow moms when we take our own paths with our babies.
When I married and embarked on my life as a parent, I wasn’t sure how many children I would eventually want. I come from a family of four children. My husband Marc was one of two. We figured we would end up with three, possibly four kids. As those of you who have followed my site know, I had my kids back to back very close in age. In 2004 came Hedley. Just 13 months later, Lachlan in 2005. 18 months after that came Beckett, in early 2007. Annaliese arrived in 2009, my first girl.
To say my hands were full is an understatement. I look back now and see blurriness, naps, breastfeeding sessions and tiring trips to the local park. Very few of my memories are clear nor distinct. Sometimes my kids ask my at what time of day they were born or what their birth weight was, or their height, and I sneak back into my room to look at their birth certificates. It all happened so fast that I barely distinguish the infancy of one baby from another. I have a happy, jumbled collection of memories with a lot of babies piled in together.
In early 2010, I stood in a department store with one of my best friend’s Tamela (you’ve probably heard me mention her before) and received a call from my doctor. He told me that I was 4 weeks pregnant. My 5th baby. I stood motionless and shocked. Tamela sat me down next to racks of leggings and here’s what she said, I will never forget it:
“You are a great mom and you and Marc are great parents. You will love this baby and all will be great.”
Then, we each bought a pair of black leggings and went out for coffee. (Tamela is an indefatigable shopper). “You can wear these after you have the baby,” she said.
Tamela’s were simple words but I will never forget them. They gave me exactly what I needed during a moment of stress and doubt as I contemplated how my family would digest another little one. They armed me for the comments that would come my way as soon as my bump began to show. Comments like:
- “Are you done now?”
- What did you want five kids?”
- “How will you have time for them all?”
- “How will you pay for college?”
- “How will you get them to all their activities.”
- “Will you even be able to remember their names?”
As those around me reacted to my fifth pregnancy in six years, some made comments like this off the cuff, as jokes. They stung, but I didn’t let on. I knew deep within me that Marielle would become an essential part of our family, and she is.
Marielle is her own resilient little girl now. She goes her own way. She might be my strongest-willed child. She’s also adorable, lovable, kind and very funny. She will draw a picture for one of her siblings with painstaking detail, taking her time. And she gives the best hugs. None of us can imagine a single day without her now. She’s our family’s comic relief, always providing laughter and lightness. Her brothers look at her and say: “Mom, she’s just so cute.”
As I reflect on my past few years of mothering babies, toddlers and kids, what sticks out are the mom friends that supported me. Friends like Tamela, who never doubted me and told me that I would do just fine. Friends that believed in me. Friends that supported my family’s path although it was starkly different from their own. In my view, the world is a richer place due to our different parenting styles. One of the qualities of a good friend is recognizing that we can accept and support our differences.
I realize now that I wouldn’t have been able to mother my own five children over the past few years in the way I have without the support of other moms like Tamela. Encouragement from moms for moms is like the air we breathe: we need it, it fills us up, it allows us to do what we do everyday.
When it doubt, encourage another Mom. She will never forget it.
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