My family and I were at a former colleague’s house, and I was a little more than three months postpartum. I quickly responded with, “I’m good!”
Then my friend, with kindness in her eyes, asked me, “….But how are you really doing?”
I stopped. Since I gave birth, I realized that I hadn’t really been stopped and asked to think about my answer to that question. This friend knew that becoming a mother and being a mother doesn’t always mean that everything is always “good.” Yes, being a mother is beyond amazing, and we are so lucky to have the wonderful children that we have in our lives, however, we all know that there’s more to it.
There are the sleepless nights with an upset or sick child, the internal and external battle between bottle-feeding and breastfeeding, learning to accept your new body, and confusing emotional changes, which can leave a new parent feeling a little less than “good.” Navigating relationships, friendships, or the workplace while being a new mom can also be additional struggles or adjustments.
I was so grateful for this friend in this moment, and I was so grateful that she asked me to be honest about my feelings. It was a seemingly small moment that left a big impact. It may have seemed small to her, but it meant a lot to me.
There are a many little things that friends, family, partners, and colleagues can do to help a new mom. Here are some ways you can be present for your Mama friends
1. Reach Out
Call her. Text her. Send her a card or letter in the mail. Just let her know that you’re still there. While her life might have significantly changed since she became a mother, knowing that you’re a steady fixture in her life will mean the world to her. It seems simple, but I can guarantee that it will make her feel wonderful.
2. Ask Her What She Needs
Someone I know gave me great advice a while ago. They once told me to never tell someone “Let me know if I can help!” Chances are, if someone is going through a big change or having a rough time, they might need your help but won’t necessarily ask for it. I know that when people tell me this, my immediate answer is “I’m okay.” Even if this isn’t true.
Instead, sit them down or pull them to the side and ask them “What would be the best way for me to help you.” This method shows that you acknowledge the issue, are actively present, and are willing to help in the most beneficial way, and it’s less likely to make the individual feel awkward about taking you up on an offer to simply help. Moms are already so used to helping and focusing on everyone and everything else, so take the pressure off of her and put the focus on her.
3. If You’re Brave, Offer to Take the Kids
If you have a close relationship with a mother and trust your ability to provide short-term care for her child, she might be willing to let you babysit her child for a while. You take the kids while she runs to the grocery store. You take the kids while she gets work done at home. You take the kids so she can have a night out with her partner. Mothers would greatly appreciate a moment to tackle a pending task or even partake in a bit of self-care, even if it’s only for an hour or two.
It’s said that it takes a village to raise a child, and I believe this to be true. However, I also believe that same village can support and care for mothers, as well. The people that provide a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear give so much more than they actually know. They give mothers a sense of safety and the feeling that they are still seen and valued.