Yesterday was a hard day. I spent the majority of the week away from my family, and I was for the most part volunteering in a fairly thankless capacity. In short, I felt like no matter what I was doing or where I was spending my energy, I was failing somehow; I wasn't home to get my kids off to school, my daughter was missing supplies for her class on Friday, and I'm behind on several commitments I had made. Even though I was *constantly* in motion, I ended the week feeling like I was treading water - and barely keeping myself afloat.
At the end of all of that, in the midst of a volunteering shift and after a minor disagreement with a colleague, I was told that I needed to "adjust my approach" and then that I was "unlikable," Which stung. A lot. I came home after this very long week and picked a fight with my husband and fought tears as I headed out to yet another commitment I had made for the evening.
First? Don't ever tell someone they are unlikable. That's just mean. Secondly? Thank goodness for my squad.
There are so many great resources available to new parents; there are books by experts, and videos, and websites - but my best advice is to surround yourself with friends. I am lucky enough to have many, many mom and dad friends who have my back at a moment's notice - or who sympathize when my toddler is having a tantrum because I will not buy her a $60 purse. Or who, especially, remind me that a TON of people are on my side even though some might find me abrasive at first meeting.
These women and men lift me up when I am feeling low - they pick up my child and shuttle her off to school when my husband mistakenly takes the keys to the car with the car seats in it. They offer respite - and wine - when I have hit my breaking point. They offer support and advice when I struggle to parent my sometimes prickly son. And they are always, ALWAYS around for encouragement in those moments when I feel like a terrible mother - or to share small victories.
A lot of parenting is survival. The first few weeks with a newborn are not something that you can really prepare for. You can't know what it is until you are in it - and even if you have had other children, every baby will challenge you in new ways. What worked for your first may not with your second. Postpartum doulas and lactation consultants and other support professionals can help you get your sea legs and set you up for success, but once those first few weeks have gone by and everyone else has gone back to their regularly scheduled lives, that's when your squad steps in.
I am so lucky to have an amazing support network - many of whom I found through like-minded parenting groups. While I am so grateful to have many local squad members, some of them are across the country - but available via a quick phone call to check in when you need a reminder that confident, assertive, and knowledgable does not equal unlikable to anyone who really matters.