Social connections straight from the hood, motherhood!
After spending a lot of time over the past few months thinking about my social connections, I know it’s a big part of how I have thrived in motherhood up to this point.
I will never forget the day I was driving home from my first child’s Child Find evaluation appointment. I have rarely felt as alone as I felt that day. I was scared. I was self-blaming. I felt, for the first time in my short stint as a parent, like I just wasn’t good enough. As I was having this somewhat toxic conversation with myself, I remember thinking, “I can’t be the only parent who feels like this!” And guess what? I wasn’t, but wouldn’t REALLY know this until a couple years down the road.
In 2016, My oldest son started half day preschool in our district. This is when I really got involved with other parents in my community. I joined the PTA, not because I particularly wanted to volunteer but I really found what I needed. Moms. Everywhere! I made so many friends that year. Many of whom were going through the same things I was. Parenting kiddos with delays and learning disabilities. One of my very best friends, to this day, I met there. Every year I was in the preschool, I made new friends. We needed each other.
We watched each other’s children. We had breakfast dates. We went to parenting classes and learned how to be present. We learned how to be better parents. We learned that our families are strong, no matter how different we were.
During our time at parenting classes and community cafes, we were given the opportunity to do our own set of community cafes on self-care and I particularly loved sharing self-care ideas and resources with other moms in the community. We were supported by local organizations and felt really proud of the work we accomplished. By 2019 we were raising funds to be self-sufficient then…COVID-19 happened.
Most of us were working or studying at this point in our parenting journeys. We got creative. I, myself, had to work now. Due to finances in the home I just didn’t have an option to stop working. Daycares were closed, my babysitter wasn’t comfortable with watching kids. As working moms, we pulled together and started a co-op childcare. It’s an interesting setup but it was easy. We watched each-others kiddos as needed. No tit for tat. We just supported one another. We would get free lunches provided by the district and make sure nobody was feeling the “financial burn” to feed all these children. Some days there would be six kids, other days more. While it wasn’t perfect, it worked for all of us, not only to work but take care of ourselves. Oftentimes we would take “grocery shopping dates” on the weekends to just get out of the house and away from children and spouses. I know it sounds bad, but that’s a lot of time spent at home.
The relationships with each other are how we continue to thrive. Taking care of kids, ourselves and getting our connections on is how we continue to grow, just as our kids do. We keep up with their development and make sure to continue to connect, whether it’s phone calls, texts, or getting some time away from our kids. We all know it’s healthy, we are good enough and we continue to support one another regardless of pandemics, virtual learning and whatever else the world might throw our way.
About the Author
Melissa is a mother of three kids under the age of seven providing a voice and perspective from families to the Colorado Connected initiative as well as the Early Childhood Partnership of Adams County.