Yesterday was Friendship Day and it got me thinking about how lucky I am to have awesome mom friends. I have a lot of incredible mom friends but the ones I’ll refer to in this post are the ones I befriended through Facebook. Yes, Facebook! Before joining this mommy group, I’d never met anyone online before and I had no idea what to expect. I know, I know, you’ve heard a lot about *those* Facebook groups: they’re teeming with judgmental sanctimommies, shouting all day from their soapboxes about what’s BEST. Well, I think I hit the mom group jackpot because this isn’t your typical group. Our group is small and close knit. Our group contains no preachers, no name callers, no sanctimommies, no mom shaming. My expectations of this mommy group were so far surpassed that I really can’t picture my life without these friends.
I’m grateful for my mom friends for many reasons but one unexpected reason is because so much of what I have learned from them applies to my doula practice. Here are the lessons I’ve learned:
Do not judge. Nobody wins when we judge other moms. Parents get to give birth and raise their kids as they see fit and there are many ways to do it. None of us could ever truly know that what we’re doing is “best”; we’re just doing what we think is best for our families. This is a simple doula lesson: your body, your baby, your choices.
Listen and validate. Often we need to be heard more than we need advice or a solution. In stead of “You should do this” or “This worked for me”, we say “That SUCKS” or “Do you have wine?” or, from the friends who live in the same town, “Want me to bring wine?” In the doula world we talk a lot about holding space for our clients and this is exactly what that means.
If you ask the right people for help, they will be honoured to support you. Unsolicited advice is typically not helpful but when a mom friend asks for help, it gives me great honour to support her and I know my friends feel the same way. As a doula, I feel deeply privileged to help my clients to get their questions answered and to feel calm and confident as they prepare for and welcome their babies.
Nothing is TMI. I’m not exaggerating! Boob stuff, butt stuff, vagina stuff…it’s all fair game. There’s nothing I haven’t heard and that makes me a better doula because it’s important that mothers feel comfortable as their truest selves (and asking their realest questions!).
Mothers matter too. We live in a society that celebrates babies. Great! Babies are awesome. But mothers matter too. My mom friends care about each other on a deep personal level. We say “I’m glad Baby Z is doing better, but how are YOU?” It’s easy for women to be swallowed by motherhood, to lose themselves in the process. I’ve learned from my mom friends that you really can’t pour from an empty cup and in order for babies to be healthy and happy, mothers have to be supported and nurtured.
Postpartum mood disorders are more common than you think….and medication is safe and effective. By being part of a group where depression and anxiety are discussed openly and with compassion, I know that normalizing these experiences is an important step toward increasing access to mental health care. Women who are supported have confidence to reach out for help they need to be their best selves and enjoy motherhood.
Sometimes just knowing you have people in your corner is enough. Support is sometimes about a lot more “being” than “doing”. Forget about tennis balls and rice bags. As a doula I don’t need a huge bag of tricks because I use my head, my hands and my heart to support my clients.
Empowered women empower women. I always enjoyed this expression but now I feel it deep in my soul. My mom friends have been among the biggest supporters in my life. We have encouraged each other to follow our passions, helped each other to find what we need, shopped and promoted each other’s businesses and so much more. I like to think I can pass this gift on to other parents.
When you’re surrounded by truly supportive people, you can and should boast! My mom friends and I love each other and the babies so much that we are thrilled about each other’s accomplishments and we encourage boasting. I want my clients to be proud of the rock stars they are. I want them screaming from the rooftop: I HAD A BABY AND I’M AWESOME!
We are all connected. I guess I had to end on a sappy note. My mom friends had one thing in common when we met: we were expecting babies in the same month. We live in different parts of the country, have different backgrounds, different jobs, different personalities and different parenting styles. Some of us are married, some of us aren’t. Some of us had home births, some of us had cesareans. Some of us chose formula, some of us chose breastfeeding. Some of us sleep trained, some of us didn’t. None of that matters. We’re all just trying to get by, be happy and support each other and that’s been the greatest lesson of all.