The transition to two children was more difficult than my husband and I expected. This wasn’t due to lack of sleep or a needy big sister. Welcoming our second child came with some of my loneliest days.
Our daughter was born two years earlier, and within hours of her arrival our hospital room was filled with at least a dozen friends, all of whom were bubbling over with love and excitement for our new baby. During our two day hospital stay, there was a steady stream of visitors with lattes, cupcakes, Jimmy John’s and pink onesies in hand. We arrived home to pink balloons decorating the porch and a Pinterest-worthy pumpkin that had been personalized with my daughter’s name and birthdate. There were meals lined up for weeks and hardly a day passed when someone didn’t stop by to chat, check in or keep us company.
I recognize that for many new moms, I have just described your worst nightmare. But my husband and I are full house, full hearts kind of people. This dear village of friends invading our hospital room and home was an outpouring of love and celebration that we still treasure.
Two years later, nearly every detail surrounding my son’s arrival differed from his sister’s, but the most impactful difference was the absence of that village. It was a harsh reminder that so many of our dear friends, as if almost on cue, moved away from our small Midwestern college town within that year. This mass exodus spread our closest friends all over the country from California to New York, to Florida to Hawaii. This is the nature of a college town. Very few people, particularly those in their twenties and early thirties, expect to stay more than five or six years, ourselves included. Yet here we were, still.
I remember sitting on the couch nursing my son and thinking about how I’d possibly survive the upcoming cold months of maternity leave with limited friends. Who would I talk to? Who would play with my two-year-old daughter? Where would we go? What if we didn’t leave the house for weeks? Would anyone check in on us? My tremendous joy was being overshadowed with an intense state of loneliness.
I wasn’t looking for someone to watch my daughter or hold my son or fold my laundry. I didn’t need someone to relieve me so I could nap or shower or spring for a latte. I was just looking for friends. Friends to listen to every boring detail of how my new baby spent the past 24 hours. Friends to scold me for trying on regular jeans far too soon. Friends to remind me that the outside world was still in motion, and I would rejoin it again someday.
I slowly lowered myself to the ground and asked Jesus for friends, and more specifically, mom friends. Not just mom friends to make small talk with, but mom friends I could really connect with, laugh with and be real with during this season. I prayed God would rebuild that village we missed so dearly.
I have prayed dozens of prayers on that living room floor. There are requests I have been laying before the Lord for years, pleading with him and waiting to see how he will work. There have also been times God fulfills an immediate need almost before I’ve picked myself up off the floor.
This was one of those times.
Within days, a young mom from church invited me to come over for a pancake breakfast; yoga pants expected. A few days later, another young mom from our church invited my daughter to join her and her girls at the library story hour so I could have time with my newborn. Her kindness led to multiple doughnut dates and a few day trips to the children’s museum. A month later, I connected with a mom during my daughter’s toddler gymnastics class. This friendship led to playdates, challenging conversation and of course, doughnut dates. Should I be embarrassed about all the doughnut dates I schedule?
The winter chugged along, and I soon found myself laying out those work clothes I hadn’t seen in months. I sat with my husband on the couch processing the jumbled mess of emotions every mom feels at the end of maternity leave.
God had been so faithful.
My son’s arrival hadn’t come with the crowds and balloons that his sister’s had. Her birth came at a unique time, a precious season in our lives when a community surrounded us. Two years later, a village would have been great. I always prefer a house full of people, but God didn’t rebuild that village of friends we had lost. Instead, he taught me the simple beauty of one or two people kind enough and brave enough to say, “Come eat pancakes at my house,” or “Let’s meet for doughnuts.” After all, no one (especially a new mom) says, “No” to pancakes or doughnuts.
Joy Becker’s favorite people are moms. She is passionate about using writing to point mamas to truth, beauty, and humor in the midst of this messy thing called motherhood. She is a mama of two little ones and recently resigned from a twelve-year career as a literacy coach to become a full time stay-at-home-mom. You can peek even further into her life at 44andoxford.com.