Whole Parenting Family

Finding your village of women: a mother’s guide to survival

whole parenting

If you’ve had the joy of becoming a mother, you know this to be true: it takes a village. Or else you die doing this. If my daughter is ever a mother, I want her to know about the village. I’m sure she will, given I’m raising her with one.

And in this dress, made by my friend Sarah for her company, Sassy Knitwear? To die for. I’m hoping I can partner with her to bring some to you. But I digress.

Someone asked me the other day how I seemed to positive in the abysmal cliff of parenting young children. I didn’t have a really strong answer. I thought about how long the days are with small kids.

I thought about what I shared over at Blessed is She about how we can justify anything through our emotional lens, and how it’s a struggle to be kind and keep our temper with those who are closest to us.

I thought about my interview on Michelle & Amy’s podcast called Little House Mothering about weaving children into the fabric of our daily lives to stay sane.

I thought about my many dirty toilets.

I gave her query more thought and realized, really, it’s all about the village.

whole parenting

If you have a village of women supporting you while you’re going through the body-breaking and heart-breaking and mind-bending moments of motherhood, you will be okay. You will survive. You will even thrive. But in the modern day norm of moving away from our families and not having community time allocated outside of working or being busy at home, what does the modern day village look like?

Online? Facebook groups. Instagram communities. Blogs I love to follow. Gatherings like the Edel Gathering for Catholic women.

In real life? Church or spirituality centers. Childbirth education & ensuing mommy groups like my sweet friend Liz’s at Enlightened Mama. Family. Friends who are like family.

We are choosing to live with family. Intergenerational living. It’s all the {out}rage these days, n’est-ce pas? I get lots of questions about having family live with us, and I’ll answer them later, but, in short: to live with family and close to family? Priceless.

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My village supports me in so many ways:

1) complain about my postpartum aches and pains and nursing and inadvertent slights that stung and deliberate comments that stabbed and family-related drama.

2) ask baby questions: is it normal (always pictures of rashes, right?), does it need medical attention immediately, will it pass, when will it pass, and will you listen to me complain while it is transpiring (teething, sleep issues, bodily fluid projectiles)?

3) ask mothering questions: is it insane, or rational, or justifiably irrational?

4) ask older kid questions: can i handle this, how do i handle it, did it happen to you, what did you say when it happened, and does it get easier?

5) talk productively through issues in my marriage, and make plans to communicate better and put more energy in the right place.

If you’re a new mom, or a seasoned mom, and you have no village, will you please email me? I would love to help you find your village. Parenting and partnering are insanely difficult. Whether you’re an introvert or extravert, just the knowledge that your village is out there could be of comfort to you.

Find it, build it, believe in it, and be that village for someone in your life who needs it.

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  1. Amy @ Motherhood and Miscellany on June 1, 2015 at 7:08 am

    This is so true! The first few years I was a mom, I tried so hard to find my village. Even though I’m such an introvert, I knew I needed to find a community here, because I have no family less than a five-hour drive away. I tried and tried and could not seem to find what I was looking for, and then I met a dear friend about four years ago and finally I had started a village, and then I became Catholic and suddenly I have this huge, wonderful community that makes being a mom so much less lonely. And I now have this lovely online community too, and it all helps so much. Spot on, friend 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on June 1, 2015 at 9:35 am

      I am SO GLAD you have your village!!!!! And that I’m in it 🙂

  2. Bernadette on June 1, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    I have actually found having a baby to be the easiest time to make new friends (easier than at college or in the workplace!). I am fortunate in that there are plent of Le Leche League groups, Babywearering clubs, and other natural mama clubs, as well library time, and other community events. I also find it so easy with little ones to strike up conversations and friendships at local playgrounds and the like.

    However … as they get older, it seems like it is harder to find this community, especially to find like-minded mamas. There are so many new mamas interested in nursing and babywearing, for example, but once they hit preschool age, far fewer parents seem to be on the same page about things, and those things seem to get bigger as they get older. Any tips for maintaining the village as the babies grow bigger?

    • Natural Mama Nell on June 3, 2015 at 3:52 pm

      You bring up a great point: the divergence when people leave baby/tot stages. Suddenly people are finding what worked for their families with little ones isn’t working as they age. I found many in my village of “attachment parenting” sorts weren’t as into the limited/no-screen time, organic food, free-range activity (or lack of pre-k) as I was. And that was OKAY! It felt personal at first, but then I realized I had to let them still be my village for different reasons. If the only things holding us together were cloth diapers and organic homemade baby food, that’s actually not as deep as I used to believe. If they disciplined similarly, approached the spirit of the child similarly, and their kids were easy for mine to be around, these factors became more prevalent in seeking out my village. Does that make sense? So I guess, in short, I think the topical details of one’s village has to be more flexible, but the depth has to go deeper.

  3. Rachel @ Efficient Momma on June 1, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    It’s so true. I live 3 hours from my family so I don’t get much help around here with the kids as far as that goes. My village is our local Le Leche League which I didn’t really find until my son was a little bit older.

    • Natural Mama Nell on June 3, 2015 at 8:51 am

      I’m SO glad you found your LLL!

  4. Maia on June 3, 2015 at 8:57 am

    Occasionally I tell my husband that blogging might well have saved my life…or at least my sanity. It feels dramatic to state it that way, but I feel so grateful for the life line of a village that I found because of it! This post. Yes. This post.

    • Natural Mama Nell on June 3, 2015 at 3:46 pm

      I really think online life helps!! I’m stuck at home with the kids almost all the day long, and many many hours nursing in a dark room kinda makes me insane but for my iPhone!!!

  5. Emily on June 3, 2015 at 9:01 am

    LOVE! I recently blogged about the village, too and I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s an absolute necessity no matter what kind of lifestyle you have, but especially when raising kids. Ours has blossomed over the years and I’m so grateful for not only the wisdom and help my husband and I receive, but also the love and guidance my kids get out of it. Thank you for sharing!

    • Natural Mama Nell on June 3, 2015 at 3:46 pm

      I’m SO glad you have found yours and it’s blooming!!! Looking forward to checking out your post on it!

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