I’m going to tell you all something that you just may have a hard time believing, but I swear it’s true…
Did you know, that even in the middle of the gorgeous sunsets and lush vineyards in the South of France, where I live, things can still feel completely crazy?
The truth is – that, while our olive tree-laden backyard is dreamy and the small villages are pretty and picturesque – the inside of my house here? Same as it is anywhere.
If you need an example, just consider this visual:
- Sage, nearly four years old, started crocodile-tear crying when I gave her the wrong color fork. Then she completely refused to eat the breakfast she’d asked for.
- There’s a messy mountain of oatmeal on the floor, underneath Maxime’s high chair (and in his hair, and in between his toes).
- One of my bonus teens left their empty late-night cereal bowl on the couch. And the open box on the counter. Read: pet peeve.
- And, the kicker-in-the-arse: I woke up to a mysteriously broken coffee machine, prompting a 25-minute drive to the closest supermarché to buy a new one, instead of using valuable babysitter time to work.
This is just a normal day, of course. And though you may not live in a foreign country, or work at home, or have teenagers (yet!), I know you’ve got your own list of “Is This Really Happening Right Now?” going on. It can feel tough sometimes. And monumentally tougher when you’re doing it by yourself. So I want to remind you of something that is critically important, but often forgotten:
We aren’t meant to do this alone.
If you’ve been around here a while, you know I’m a huge advocate of building your own support circle – girlfriends, fellow moms, relationship with your spouse, partner, or co-parent. And in this digital, tech-crazed age, it’s never been easier to connect virtually with anyone, anywhere, anytime. But it’s also never been more difficult to connect physically, in the moment, for that valuable, irreplaceable hug or in-person support.
This is actually a huge part of our work as mothers: our babies and young children need our physical support every day. They need our arms to hold them, our hands to help them not hit others, our presence in the room when they feel scared or lost. But we, too, need this from other people; from our partners and friends.
In fact, the need for community is built into our a neurophysiology, according to the Polyvagal Theory.
Polyvagal Theory tells us that parasympathetic nervous system — responsible for helping us calm down after stress — is guided largely by a large conduit and cranial nerve called the vagus nerve. The vagus extends into many regions of the body, but excitingly, recent studies have shown that the most evolved branch of the vagus (the ventral vagus) connects with muscles in the face. This brain-body connection helps us with the social engagement that is necessary for a healthy nervous system — and hence, a happy human survival.
Everyone needs someone else nearby. We aren’t meant to do this alone.
Recent generations are unique in that we live in a culture that establish independence and self-sufficiency as the absolute norm. That can, indeed, be a temporary asset… but long-term?! We need other people! We need that connection! And, make no mistake, those others who you need, need you too. We aren’t meant to do this alone.
I truly believe, that this is one of the reasons our world is in disarray. This disconnection that’s happened over decades, particularly with families, with great-grandmothers and grandmothers and mothers not being part of the intimate circle of life when a woman gives birth… it’s causing fissures in our self-worth. It creates a host for self-harm and doubt. We aren’t meant to do this alone.
We all need at least one other person who’s “in it” with us, day to day.
They don’t have to be your partner and/or best friend – just a really great mom friend – someone you like spending time with, who gets your mama lifestyle, understands your struggles, and celebrates your successes. It’s not always easy to find “that person” but it’s worth it.
So let’s put this into action so you can start to see the light right now:
- Choose one other person who’s in nearby physical proximity to you.
- If you are close (good friend or family member, for instance), create two or more “help dates” each month: one, where they can help you in some way and, two, where you can help them.
- If you aren’t super close (new mom friend, acquaintance from the park, etc.), take the plunge and ask them for a coffee or playdate – even if it means exchanging numbers and committing to calling “low key + last minute” when you have a spontaneous free spot in the day. Talk. Listen. Share how you “do it all.” Ask for their experience. That sort of sharing is caring.
Try to keep this a regular thing. These days community-building isn’t always natural or intuitive. Sometimes, it’s downright awkward. But knowing that you have someone, a true mom friend, to count on? That’s the comfort that we all need to keep up with this thing called life.
Looking for some more self-care (and motherhood survival) tips and tricks? Plenty more to enjoy right here on the Blog.