Recently I came across a free, mom-to-mom support organization: the Postpartum Society of Florida. Their small core of about 10 active volunteers “engages in more than 1,200 personal contacts with Florida mothers and babies, as well as between 100-200 guidance and training contacts with perinatal providers and social support volunteers.”
It seemed a bit odd to me at first. We don’t want strangers to offer unsolicited advice, but we do want strangers we can establish relationship with and who may, at times, advise us as we seek it out. I took a moment, set my judgement on the table beside me, and considered the idea for a moment.
The need for mommy mentors, I think, is inherently connected to our need for a village--a village we struggle to find around us in our self-reliant culture that often gives parents judgment rather than help. Here, mothers, who often may not have the resources of supportive family and friends, may find the life-sustaining support and resources they need through vetted peer support volunteers.
It’s not only Postpartum Society of Florida that realizes this deeper need for connection. Postpartum Support International, and even groups like Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) hit on the intentional nature of creating support and community around new moms (and, sometimes, their families). Many of us know the regular experience of sitting in the quiet after the kids go to bed for the night (or for the hour) as we venture onto social media via mommy/parent-specific Facebook groups. Many friendships are born at 2 AM from one mother on the east coast to a mother rocking baby to sleep in the mountain time zone.
These groups speak to our need for safe places of non-judgment where we can air our souls out in the light without the additional implications and effort when we try and bare our souls to our partners, parents, or other daily relationships. There is something about speaking from one mother to another that is freeing, knowing, even sacred. We know deep truths about life in ways that many don’t or may never.
Mommy mentors exist in this strange land where we have both the problems of society that leave mothers stranded and the loving hearts in society, passionate enough about connection that they invest their days to help other mamas out. These groups are the silver lining to the challenging realities of being mommy these days. The good news is we need not volunteer for a 501(c)(3) to build this community up. Perhaps these groups can be our inspiration--to both seek out and provide the village. In this age of #metoo, we can take initiative to stand together and create the culture we want so our daughters won’t struggle how we do now.
Lynette is a mom of three children from 20 months to age five. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.