I never fully understood the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child,” before I had my own. The village benefits Tillie – she benefits from learning, playing, and interacting with all types of people. But the village benefits her in another way, and that’s by giving her a refreshed, supported, happy mother. Families are better when they’re part of a village.
Lately, I’ve been really struggling with the fact that my village feels so far away.
My situation certainly isn’t unique or uncommon. I feel extremely fortunate that I’ve gotten to experience living in Zionsville, Nashville, Chicago, Sacramento, and now Albuquerque. And I don’t want to whine. I have the happiest, healthiest baby and a husband who was born to be a father. But it’s hard. I’ve experienced the highest highs of my life over the past seven months, but also some of my very lowest lows.
I knew that it would be hard to have a baby in New Mexico, away from my family and friends. I knew I’d have little to no help, along with no clue what I was doing. I didn’t know, however, that being a new mom in a new place is much, much different than being a recent college grad in a new place. I didn’t know that seeing simple posts on Facebook like, “Shoutout to my sister for watching my baby for the day!” would make me burst into tears. I didn’t know that I’d struggle with mom-guilt, wondering if I’d have anyone to invite to Tillie’s first birthday or if she’ll somehow be stunted spending all her time with her parents.
In other cities, I was eager and excited to find a new “village.” I’ve made an (admittedly halfhearted) attempt to create a new village here, but being a mom has made me exclusively crave the easy comfort of my lifelong villages. I want my mom, who won’t judge me when I scream because my baby won’t nap. I want the women I lived with for four years in college, who know every good and ugly side of me. I want my childhood friends who called me Carrie and won’t blink when I’m braless and exhausted.
A few weeks back, Jeremy was across the country for a work trip and Tillie was in a state. She wouldn’t stop crying, and I couldn’t stop crying either. In these moments, it really hits me that I have no one to call for help. My mom is in Georgia. My mother-in-law is in Toronto. My stepsisters and sisters-in-law are in Indiana and California. My best friends are scattered across the country. So many parenting advice pages say, “When you’re at your wit’s end, call someone to come over and hold the baby while you shower and nap!” The only people I’d ever call with such a vulnerable request are thousands of miles away.
God knows I’m not the first woman to have a baby far away from her family and friends. God also knows that plenty of women juggle three, four, five babies with no help from anyone, and some new moms have already said goodbye to their own mothers and can’t pick up the phone to reach them. Many women pray for the incredible life I have, like a partner who carries his weight (and then some) and the ability to work from home with my daughter by my side. I have technology, and all of my people are only a call, text, or FaceTime away. I am lucky and thankful in so many ways. I’ve also learned in this phase of life how strong, resilient, and capable I am. But that doesn’t stop me from missing my village.
I struggled with writing this simply because I’m well-aware that it comes off as one long whine… but sometimes writing my one, long whine is all I need to feel a whole lot better. So to all the other mamas who often feel bitterly lonely and overwhelmed in this chapter of motherhood, I’m with ya. We are so much stronger and more capable than we think, and I have no doubt that eventually, we’ll find new villages that feel like home.