There is a fundamental shift that occurs after having a first baby. It is cataclysmic. Everything changes. It is the beginning of a powerful transformation. Paradoxically, to become a mother means a deepening of one’s heart and narrowing of one’s world. A pre-baby world may consist of hobbies, friends, family, and an enriching career. Then, in one crowning moment, a woman’s whole world is harrowed down to one consuming orbit.
Some women find ultimate fulfillment in mothering. Others find staying home with children an interminable confinement.
I think most fall someplace in between. There are a string of small moments that are so momentous it fills your heart to bursting. Yet, these moments are elapsed by long hours full of endless need that dull the mind and dampen the spirit. There is a complete lack of autonomy or personal space that many find suffocating. Finding footing in this new landscape can be daunting. There is a new defined sense of self taking shape. It is tender and so easily bruised. This fragile form can easily be crushed by the relentlessly grinding gears of raising children.
We need a Village
That is why it is so vitally important women are given a chance lay a stable foundation. Women need community postpartum. Especially the community of other mothers. There is a relevance to their conversation that may have once escaped notice before. Being able to relate to both the highs and lows of other women living through the same period of life can be extremely enriching. It is helpful to know the lows are not failings but just part of the landscape.
It is important to find a group of mothers to meet with regularly. It can be at church, through daycare, through family, or friends. Some areas have fantastic new parent support groups that can be enriching while building a network of friends. Breastfeeding support groups can serve the same purpose. Postpartum is a good time to build a community. Especially if a woman is facing a hardship postpartum. The community of shared experience is invaluable.
Reconnect with your partner
Last but not least, it is vital for women to reconnect with their husbands postpartum. This does not always mean having sex (though for some it does). The baby and all the womanly community is vital but it can sometimes take the space a partner once filled. He needs you and you need him.
When a woman reconnects with her partner, she will see a glimmer of the woman she was before becoming a mother. Don’t forget her. She is just as fundamentally a part of the spirit as this new consuming role. By remembering who we were, a small sacred space is kept safe. It may feel like that piece will forever be forgotten. She is just there, just hibernating during the frenzy of the baby years. Don’t be afraid to dust her off and spread her wings again. There is more to any mother than child rearing. Find ways, albeit small, to cultivate that fertile ground. Don’t starve her out behind forgotten doors.
Balance is the key to contentment while mothering. By learning to love and care for yourself FIRST, you are free to reap the full joyful bounty of raising a family without the blight of regret. If you can find contentment in motherhood, you can find healing postpartum and beyond.