There are a few important things that have gotten me through motherhood: the love of a good man, a supportive family and caffeine.
However, there is another important thing I have done since I became pregnant with my son 6 years ago: build my mommy network.
I became a part of an online community way back in my early TTC and infertile days. Starting with my clomid buddy group where we clamored together to scrutinize for that oh so precious faint line on our pregnancy tests, to my 2008 due date group and all the way to my December 2013 due date group. These groups have been my lifeline for support and information. Over the last few years I have also grown my Twitter mom network and have amassed a group of really fantastic moms to network with about the victories and woes of motherhood.
I honestly do not know where I would be without this network of fabulous women.
They are my sounding board. My source of information. I really (REALLY) look to my mom network both via Twitter and Facebook to be inspired both as a person and a mom. I am SO GRATEFUL to all these mommies for their advice, feedback, support and most importantly their friendship. It's so easy to fall into the rut of comparing yourselves and your BABIES to other babies (seriously... WTF. Why do we do this?). Fortunately, despite the crippling desire to constantly size up, I don't have to encounter this much in my (troll-free) online communities. While we are a positive crew of ladies, I know the mommies in my network will not always agree with me. I make it no secret that I formula feed and vehemently support vaccinations. I am a working mom and send my kid to a daycare center (you cannot imagine how many people find this abhorrent). My son slept in a carseat for the first 4 months, so yeah, who am I to judge? I do not know any moms who are perfect or who don't have any struggles. If there are moms who think they are perfect? Well good for them.
That brings me to the one thing all of us moms do agree on: we do what we gotta do. I don't force my views on anyone. I refuse to engage in mommy wars that our wonderful passive-aggressive social world festers up. You raise your kids your way, and I'll raise my kids my way. Will I share my trials and victories? Absolutely. Do I care if someone is going to judge me over it? Nope. I know there are a million ways to get to the same place and I will always open my eyes and ears to new ideas (I mean... how else would I have discovered the Merlin Magic Sleepsuit??). But I will never tell another mom who is simply trying to survive and do what she feels is right for her and her kids, "You are wrong."
I'm thankful that at 2am I can always find another mama out there who is up with their little one to chat with. I love seeing pictures of their kids and babies. I find joy in seeing how big they are getting and all the milestones they have tackled. In my 2008 group- our 5 yr olds have started to losing their teeth! My 2013 group have babies rolling over, smiling and laughing. I love to see all of it. I NEED to see all of it. It reminds me that I am not alone in this.
I see other moms who are as exhausted as I am. Who are struggling to lose the last 20 pounds. Who are struggling to lose the first 20 pounds. Moms who agonize over whether or not to give their babies formula. Struggle whether or not to do any kind of sleep training. Or no sleep training. Moms who broken heartedly go back to work leaving their babies in the hands of strangers. Moms who can't stand the idea of leaving their babies with strangers and become SAHMs. The list could go on and on...
All I can do is share my experience and hope that maybe it will help. Perhaps my advice is offensive? That is never my intention. Don't agree with my opinion? I don't expect you to. I am blessed to be a part of communities that are pretty much drama free. They are collaborative and supportive. These women make me laugh as well as keep me motivated. I may never meet any of them in real life, but I am more grateful to my mama communities than they will ever know.
We are in this mom thing together!