The Mom Village: Science of Support
As moms, we find ourselves experiencing the ups and downs of child rearing and keep hearing how “it takes a village.” But, sometimes we feel like we’re in a bubble. We can get laser focused on our children; we count the hours they sleep, eat, play, and receive our very loving attention. Pretty soon, a mom can find herself starving for some adult interaction! Have you ever headed to the grocery store or the mall with no objective but to see other moms pushing other children in strollers and experiencing the smiles and fits of a child wanting something they can’t have? Is this the village?
Maybe you encounter another mom while out and about with a stain on her shirt, baby in tow. Instantly, you know what happened and feel this unique bond of compassion as your eyes meet. You smile and say, I know how that feels. Then you go your opposite ways. Is this the village?
Seeing and knowing that other moms feel your same stress and loneliness can feel like a breath of fresh air. The old adage that it takes a village to raise a child is true. Yes, we as mothers need to have resources for our children. However, more importantly, it is the resources we have for ourselves that are MOST important.
There are studies after studies that show when we have our own village, a “mom village,” we are better equipped to handle the stress, exhaustion, overwhelm, and numerous challenges of being a mother. Forming friendships with other moms or checking out a support group or play group isn’t just for fun, it’s a critical part of creating your personal “mom village.”
WHAT I HEAR WOMEN SAY
After working intensively with women for the last 10 years, here are two of the most common things I hear women say about support.
- I got this…I’m good.
Lynn J. Piper’s meta-analysis study “Stressors, Social Support, and Stress Reactions” conducted at the University of North Texas concluded that when people are stressed they tend to withdraw from support. Consequently, people experience higher levels of stress and burnout and increase risk of experiencing increased mental health symptoms. Going it alone does not mean you are stronger! It means you are going it alone and that makes you weaker, lonely, and emotional. It means that you will most likely burn out faster, harder, and decrease your body’s ability to stay healthy. None of this will help you be the mom you want to be.
- I’ll take care of me as soon as I am done __________ . (you fill in the blank)
Put YOU first NOW! I tell moms this a lot; it’s the surest way to guarantee that you will experience motherhood exactly the way that you want to. A study titled “Who Mothers Mommy?” suggests that moms who make authentic relationships with other moms will “commonly come to prioritize, and to regularly receive themselves, the steadfast love and care that is uniquely associated with the term mothering.”
It is easy to focus on everything else but you. Resist and know that you are worthy, deserving, and owe it to YOURSELF and your baby to take care of yourself. We all need support. You are the most important person in your child’s life. If you catch yourself saying “I got this” or “I’ll take care of me as soon as…,” take a pause. Take the time to find support wherever you are located. If you are here in upper Northern California, start with these resources – and be sure to ask other moms!