My IRL Army

3 Nov

I’ve spent a good amount of posts here sharing how much the #ppdchat army has helped me.  They truly have been my saving grace on so many days when I needed to connect with someone who has walked (or is walking) the hundreds of miles in my shoes that make up the journey through PPD.  If you’re not familiar with them, go here … or here… or here to learn more.  I don’t have words for how amazing these women are.  Truly.

I hadn’t needed them as much lately, because I have been good.  I mean, I’m pregnant.  I’m tired.  I’m cranky and swollen and fed up with both.  And I’m worried about labor, how the baby will impact our family, and whether the PPD will rear its ugly face again after she’s here.  But deep down, I’m GOOD.  I’m content, and hopeful, and well – myself.  On the bad days (and there have been a few lately), I am able to dig deep and see the lies of depression and anxiety for what they are.  And I have more than my #ppdchat army and other online connections to thank for that.

I am almost 8 months pregnant.  Eight months.  Last time around, eight months nearly did me in.  The pregnancy was physically harder, too, but it was the emotional rollercoaster that really took its toll.  Now?  I’m teaching lessons three days a week, keeping my house tidy (notice I didn’t say clean), cooking  meals edible food, crafting dinosaur tails, and putting together two kids’ rooms.  And I’m parenting with confidence.

I know the medications and the therapy are a huge part of that, as is the online support I’ve found.  But the biggest difference from last time is the local support network I have.  In 2008, we had just moved to New England.  We were living in an apartment complex and knew only my parents (who live 45 minutes away).  Now, I have people.  A village.

My Parents – My mom and dad are wonderful grandparents.  Involved, understanding, supportive…and amazingly enough they realize that my husband and I deserve the chance to parent the way we want to.  They try their best to care for No1 in a way that is consistent with our expectations.  You know, they still spoil her – and going to Mimi and Grampa’s is like a vacation for No1, but that’s as it should be.  My mom watches No1 once a week while I teach, and they frequently take her for overnights so Hubs and I can have time to be a couple.  I used to feel guilty for leaning on them for childcare, meals, and all the other help they provide.  Now I understand that they believe in me…they believe in the family and life my husband and I are creating…and they WANT to support us in whatever way they can.

My Bestie – A little over a year ago, I approached a mom at a local park and struck up a conversation as we both pushed our toddlers on the swing set.  This was completely against my nature.  I am usually very shy (especially around beautiful people – and she is stunning), but for whatever reason I said hello anyway.  When it turned out she had just moved from out-of-state to the neighborhood next to mine, we agreed to plan a playdate.  It was honestly the kind of thing I thought wouldn’t ever really come to fruition.  Or maybe we would get the kids together once and that would be it.  But we clicked.  And I know for certain I wouldn’t happy here without her.  She’s the kind of friend who you call because you just screamed at your child and need an understanding ear.  AND the kind of friend who gives you sex advice and laughs at your most inappropriate jokes.  She makes me feel at ease to be who I really am – with no drama or jealousy or any of the other bull that usually accompanies female friendship.  She tells me the truth.  She babysits No1 so I can go to therapy, knows all about my history with mental illness, and sees me instead of the anxiety/depression.  Oh, and she bakes.  Like, really bakes.

My Neighborhood – At 2:20 each afternoon, the bus drops all the elementary students off at the corner across from my house.  There are always 3-4 moms waiting to greet the kids.  They stay a while and chat while all the kids play soccer or basketball in the yards and driveways.  These are families with amazing kids.  Oh, and moms who chair the school’s PTA.  They bake, and take amazing photographs, and run theater classes, and the list goes on.  But they are also the most down-to-earth, relatable, welcoming women I have ever met.  There’s no “mompetition” (Like it?  It’s my word for the competition moms regularly subject themselves and others too) with these women.  They have made me feel welcome in a clearly tight-knit group.  And the best part?  A couple of them have responsible, sweet, teenage daughters who I trust to watch No1 while I teach.  Our favorite babysitter, we’ll call her “Jane” for privacy’s sake, always comes early and stays late just to hang out and play with No1 because she enjoys it.  She texts me after a piano lesson afternoon to say thank you for having me over.  She brought No1 a birthday present and helps me pick up the toddler mess.  And she’s AMAZING with young kids.  I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her.  Being able to teach is a huge part of who I am and she makes it possible.

Hubs – He drives me nuts, sometimes.  He really does.  I swear he is the loudest, stompiest man on earth.  Oh, and he is married to his computer.  He works harder than anyone I know and yet takes so little time for himself.  But he once told me, “I’d rather come home to dirty dishes and laundry and a happy you, than to come home to a perfect house and have you be worn out and used up.”  So when I just can’t bring myself to clear the counter, or I only manage to run one load through the washer where it sits all afternoon?  I don’t feel bad.  He’ll help – gladly.  I have a real team player in my husband and not a day goes by that I take that for granted.  He and I are building a life together and we both know that sometimes life isn’t pretty.  That’s okay.  We’re in it for the long-haul.

These folks?  THEY are the reason I rock.  I know, I know.  I deserve credit, too.  I’m not denying myself credit, I promise.  I just want them to know how much I appreciate them.  And I want each of you to know that it really does take a village.  You do NOT have to parent by yourself to be a good mom.  Lean on the people around you – let them help.  And ask for help if it’s not offered.  I thought I had to do it myself when No1 was a baby.  I wanted to.  And I was worse off for it.  Now, not a day goes by that I’m not convinced we made the right decision by moving here and by choosing this neighborhood.  All these people?  Make this feel like home.

***Please know that just because I don’t mention you doesn’t mean you’re not important, loved, or helpful.  These are just the folks I see every day.  I love my long-distance peeps, too!***

6 Responses to “My IRL Army”

  1. katery November 3, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    oh my gosh, the kind of support system i DREAM of. i am so envious! but i’m glad you’ve got it, everyone should really.

    • learnedhappiness November 3, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

      I had to work hard to let them in – to be real with them. It was scary to be so vulnerable. But the payoff has been worth it. I hope you have someone you can lean on. Even one person can make all the difference in the world.

  2. Melissa November 3, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    I’m so glad you have a flesh and blood support community right at your fingertips. The online community is genuine, too, but you wouldn’t want Twitter to babysit your kid. 😉

    • learnedhappiness November 3, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

      OMG. Wouldn’t that be something? Hey, maybe you can babysit No1 for me one of these days via facetime. LOL.

  3. jessica schafer November 4, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    You are my village and I would be lost without you! Love you!

  4. jamesandjax November 4, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    I’m jealous of your bestie! I need someone like that in my life. Sure I have great girlfriends, but I don’t see them often at all. Maybe once every few months. Sigh. I’m so happy you have such a great support system. It is so important to not isolate yourself during pregnancy & motherhood!

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