In June 2009, I became a mom.
I was working full time in a competitive sales department, concentrating on climbing the corporate ladder. I had a plan.
And kids weren't a part of it. (Or at least not for another few years).
Needless to say, my world was rocked when I found out my husband and I were about to become parents, a mere 3 years into marriage and 2 years into my corporate ladder climb.
McKenna arrived as a healthy, round faced, little ball of screaming lungs. To be honest, I don’t remember much of those first few weeks with her. It is a blur of dirty diapers, pediatric appointments, gas relief drops, spit-on onsies, and hazy midnight, three and six AM feedings. What I do know is I wasn't prepared.
Nobody told me what it would be like.
(Or maybe I just didn't pay attention. That's a very real possibility.)
I wasn't prepared for the exhaustion or the basic steps in keeping a brand new human alive. Life ran its course on a three hour time block, restarting at every feeding. I went back to work a mere 6 weeks later.
Yet again, I wasn't prepared.
I wasn't prepared for the emotions of leaving my little one every morning.
Or the balance of breastfeeding (i.e. pumping) while working full time.
Or the balance of work pressures with newborn and family pressures.
Or how to handle missing out on all of McKenna's "firsts."
I didn't know what I was doing and I felt very alone.
Sure, my husband understood what it was like living our family's day-to-day, especially since he was the one who took on the bulk of parenting in those early years while working from home.
(Here's an official shout-out to my awesome Baby Daddy! *throws up a fist pump*)
But there's something about being a mom that he wouldn't understand... because, well, he's a dad.
I didn't know it at the time, but I needed another mom. During McKenna's first few years of life, I felt really alone, despite all the people around me. I didn't know anyone experiencing life with littles. In my group of friends, marriage wasn't even on the radar for some... let alone children.
(Remember, nobody has time for kids on the corporate ladder climb.)
The moms I knew were far removed from my stage of parenthood or lived far away. They weren't swimming in the trenches next to me, grasping for something solid above the break of diapers, bottles, and onesies.
Despite my efforts, I had a hard time relating to older moms, the ones who spent time complaining about their grown children. I honestly tried, but I couldn't relate to those saying,
"Oh, just wait... it gets harder."
"Hang in there."
"Wait until their older... that's when things get really crazy.”
While I valued their input at that point it wasn't what I wanted (needed?) to hear. Sure, once upon a time, they experienced what I was living, but they were survivors of that ocean and had already made it to other side. In fact, they had already changed out of their swimsuits and were walking away from the beach.
I needed a fellow swimmer…someone alongside me, so we could encourage one another as we took stroke after stroke.
I wanted so badly for another mom to come along with me. To be able to say, "me too."
But they didn't.
Let's go ahead and fast forward a bit in order to speed up your reading process (you're welcome *grin*)…
In the spring of 2012, I left my full-time job. I started a different, part-time job just before my second baby girl, Meda, arrived in May of 2013. Even though I'd been through the newborn thing once before, when Meda arrived (yet again) I wasn't prepared. (I am confident God makes you forget the details of newborn-hood intentionally. Because, if not, there's no way there would be such a thing as "siblings.")
With raging hormones, minimal sleep, two young kids, a working husband, and a part-time job constantly emailing, texting, or calling... I found myself in a small battle with postpartum depression that summer. I could go into the details on my day-to-day and how lonely, upset, and sad I was ALL THE TIME, but I'll spare you the details. (They're a real drag.)
Just before the fall semester, in a desperate attempt to just GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, I attended a Monday night Heart 2 Heart event at Hope Church.
Confession: I attended because I knew they were showing a Beth Moore video and I wouldn't be required to talk to anyone.
Well. After emerging from the restroom (Remember how I just said I didn't want to talk to anyone? Restrooms tend to be good hiding places from people. *wink*), I found myself face to face with the women’s ministry mom’s leader... I just didn't know that yet.
Before I knew it, she had found a mom’s life group for me and I was sitting on a Wednesday morning in a room full of women I didn't know. Some of them even still had babies attached to their hips.
I had always been the only one with babies hanging around, but now, it wasn't just me.
Confession: I was slightly nervous to share too much about myself and my family with this new group. Everyone’s hair was perfectly curled, lipstick applied and perfectly content and well-behaved children. They clearly had it together in the parental department, and there I was, struggling to not be sad ALL THE TIME (have I mentioned I was sad ALL THE TIME? Dang those hormones.) and just make it through each day keeping kids and myself alive. Not to mention I probably still had baby spit-up in my hair and clothes...
After chatting and introducing ourselves, I found myself relaxing as our conversation seamlessly moved into stories and quirks about our husbands and kids. I relaxed enough to find myself telling (admitting?) a story about something dumb I'd done in my parenting that week.
As the story fell from my mouth, I tensed, knowing judgement was sure to reign down. But instead, I heard:
Since that first day with those women, I haven’t looked back. My postpartum depression began to subside, I felt energized, accepted and above all - I knew I wasn’t alone.
I had a group finally…my "peeps," if you will. People to vent with, to laugh with, and pray with. Those women became that lifesaver I desperately reached for, for so long, the one thrown out to me in the middle of the parenting storms. With them swimming alongside, somehow I know it's okay.
We don't see each other everyday, nor do we talk everyday. Many weeks, the only time we talk is passing each other in the church hallway.
I even feel a special connection with other moms now too. Moms I don’t know.Because I know they're there going through this thing with me - stroke by stroke.
"That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually (1 Corinthians 12:25-27 ESV)
They don’t know it, but other moms saved me. And (selfishly) I hope I help save one another mom too.
Author Bio:I’m a little bit of the South and the Southwest all rolled into one. I consider myself fortunate to be from a part of the world where hats are still tipped and “Yes Ma’am” and “Yes Sir” are frequently used. I’m also someone who doesn’t take life or themselves too seriously.
Born in Kentucky, I was carted around by my military family to numerous states and cities.
We spent about 10 years of my teenage and early adult life in laid-back New Mexico, where I met my future husband, Bryant. He played college basketball, I was a college cheerleader…. we were clearly meant to be together.
Now back south of the Mason Dixon line, we call Tennessee home and love our southern lifestyle. For 12 years, I worked full-time in the crazy world of cheerleading (yes, it’s a business… a huge business!), but now I’m a Jesus-lovin’ freelance writer, runner, mama, and not-so-domestic wifey.
The hubs owns his own sport performance business (where I humbly put in my two cents on the proper ways to run a business,
(This post was written by Kristin Funston as a part of the Our Heart's Song Series this month. I encourage you to read her story and check out her website. This is one of the many incredible women that I will have the privilege to meet at the SheSpeaks Conference, at the end of this month, where over 800 women across the world will gather together and ask God to take us to the next level in our speaking/writing ministry. I ask that you would please pray for each woman as she shares her story.)