When I was expecting our first, I downloaded a popular pregnancy app to my phone. At first it was just a way to track the baby’s development and compare her to random foods.
But then I discovered the community section. And more specifically, my “birth month board”. Here was a group of moms or moms-to-be, all due with our little ones in the same month. Despite being from literally all over the world with varying backgrounds and parenting ideals, we had the same pregnancy aches and pains, the same fears and worries, the same questions for our care providers.
Shortly after our babies made their appearances, we moved our virtual community to Facebook. Now, it’s nearly a year and a half later and we are still an active group with multiple posts a day. Sometimes we talk about the ridiculous reasons our toddlers are throwing tantrums, sometimes we vent about our husbands or in-laws, sometimes we argue about styles of discipline … but always we bond because we are all moms trying to figure this thing out.
Here’s a few major lessons I’ve learned from this online group.
- Commiseration is a wonderful thing
We all know misery loves company, right? It’s so true. Sometimes just knowing that there are other moms out there who are up every two hours with a kid who doesn’t like to sleep just makes it a little bit easier. I can’t count how many times there have been posts essentially saying: this is hard – it’s not just me, right? And dozens of comments responding: nope, we’re in this together. It’s like a giant virtual group hug.
2. Mom guilt is real – and it’s okay
Whether we work full-time, part-time or stay at home with our kiddos, all of us feel guilt for something. Spending too much time away from the little ones, or not giving them enough socialization, or asking too much of our caregivers, or needing a girls night out, or never wanting to leave the house. The list goes on. It just shows that we’re all trying really hard to do our best for our children, even if we constantly agonize over what that best looks like. It’s reassuring to know none of us have the answer.
3. It’s easy to overthink things
In this virtual community, we ask each other about everything. Weird rashes, shampoo, food recipes, deals on clothes … It’s a fantastic resource, but I realized that I was beginning to look for advice for even simple decisions. I remember, a few months after my girl was born, when I asked a couple mom friends for sunscreen recommendations. They said something like, whatever Walmart has that’s safe for babies. Oh right. I guess I don’t need to read reviews and spend hours shopping online. Not everything has to be major choice with tons of input.
4. Someone knows what you’re going through
The benefit of being part of this particular group – all moms with children almost exactly the same age – is that we can be sure someone else is experiencing the same thing at the same time. Sure, all the kids are different and developing at their own pace, despite their closeness in age. But because it’s a large group, it’s basically guaranteed that someone else’s little one is cutting molars this week, another is bracing for another round of vaccinations, someone is also switching daycares, and yet another also finally learned how to say “dad”.
5. There’s no one right answer
We are all so different. Some have several children, some have one, a couple have twins; some are married, some are single parents. And our kids are as varied as we are. Sometimes our conversations are a needed reminder that there is no one-size-fits-all template for parenting. We are all going to do our best and hopefully raise kind and contributing members of society. We don’t have to go about that the same way, and really, we shouldn’t. Advice and tips are great, but in the end, we’re all just supporting each other as we do what we feel is right for our family.