As a young mom, I have found support and virtual camaraderie in several Facebook groups. I’ve made connections with women around the world who are in the same season of life: deep in the trenches of mothering young children. I didn’t have this support group when I first became a mom, but as the mother of two, I now often find it to be a lifeline.
Life raising children is hectic, exhausting, beautiful and overwhelming. Being able to talk
with women who have been there, or are there, reminds us that our emotions and struggles are normal – or alerts us to when there may be something else going on like postpartum depression or anxiety. Moms need words of encouragement and support, as well as reassurance that the rash isn’t anything serious or that it’s completely normal to cry when your baby finally poops after a long battle with constipation.
During a particularly rough patch recently, I was reflecting on how hard I found it to ask for help. I was struggling to reach out, not so much to my digital mom friends, but to the people who have known me for years- my family and friends. Why was it so hard to admit I was struggling to manage two children while recovering from childbirth? Why did that make me feel like such a failure? It was a feeling I saw perpetuated across Facebook pages and
groups, message boards, blog posts, etc. It seems this is a widespread issue – an inability to ask for help without feeling like a failure as a mom. Everywhere, you can find sentiments like:
“I prayed for this baby for so long but now I just need to not be touched for five minutes. I feel like the worst mom.”
“My midwife reminded me to take it easy for the first few weeks after giving birth but with two other children at home and a husband who doesn’t get any paternity leave, who is going to feed them? Care for them all day? Clean the house?”
Why do we feel we have to sacrifice our mental and physical health, as well as basically every other aspect of our being, trying to super mom when we really could be reaching out for a little help?
The pro-choice version of feminism tells us that a woman gets to choose between giving birth to her baby or not. So if a woman gives birth to her baby, that was her choice. She chose to take on the responsibility of a(nother) child. She should have been prepared for the ramifications of that choice.
In a culture that already doesn’t respect the vocation of motherhood, the option of abortion as a panacea for any pregnancy presented during an inconvenient time or circumstance further perpetuates the idea that women should be able todo it all on their own. It frames having a child as a choice, and as such, that a woman who does choose life should be completely prepared for the added responsibility of said child. Herself. And if she does struggle, well then she should have thought of that before. She should have considered all her options. She should have realized a(nother) baby would just be too much right now.
Society is putting an unhealthy amount of pressure on mothers to be entirely self-reliant. There’s a reason women are complaining about a lack of their “village” – it’s because once you are in the trenches, it becomes very clear you can’t do it alone. It isn’t that we want to shirk our responsibilities. It isn’t that we are lazy or incompetent or irresponsible. It’s that mothering is hard and we weren’t meant to do this alone. Whether a baby has been carefully planned and prayed for or was a terrifying, plan-altering surprise, the choice to give birth is not a choice that means you can’t ask for help.
October in the Midwest brings cooler weather, football, and some of the most beautiful drives through fire-tinged foliage I’ve ever seen. It also brings the National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. I am one of a very small minority of women in my group of friends who has not