Say what you will about the musical “Wicked” but I stand by the fact that is and always will be one of my favorites. The reasons for this are not as obvious as you might think. Sure, it’s fun and whimsical and has a great story, but for me it’s a lot more than that. I saw it for the first time when I was in the pits of horrible postpartum depression after I had a late-term miscarriage. As I sat in the massive Gershwin Theatre I wept with the rest of the audience at the end. I won’t spoil anything for those that haven’t seen it, but there is a line in the last song that goes, “So much of me is made of what I learned from you. You’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart.” To this day, even after seeing the show 12 times, I still sob at this line.
It took me a long time as an adult to realize that I needed more than just myself in this world. I wouldn’t say I was a loner growing up, but I never needed a huge group of friends. I had my people and they were enough. As I grew up, I found myself speeding through life a lot faster than my high school friends. I got married as a fetus as most Mormon girls do, and before I knew it I was a wife and all that entailed. Marrying young is my only regret in this life. Let me be clear, I would absolutely marry the same person, I would just WAIT so I could have at least been old enough to rent a car on my honeymoon. My husband would tell you the very same thing, thankyouverymuch.
Once I figured out the wife thing, I quickly decided I wanted to jump on the mom train. The universe had other plans and I found myself struggling to stay pregnant. I could get knocked up faster than a hot knife through butter but I couldn’t stay that way. To make a long story short, this made for a lot of really terrible years. 7 of them, in fact.
When the day finally came and I had my first child I remember feeling this overwhelming sense of responsibility. I was in charge of keeping this tiny person alive. I had to make sure she knew right from wrong. I had to feed her, clothe her, teach her not to eat her boogers. I had to protect her from the world but still let her experience it on her own. I had to make sure no one ever hurt her, and learn how to beat the hell out of anyone that did (kidding. sort of). I had to do all of these things and follow a list of about a million more things and the only people I knew that could help me do it were my mom and my husband. Suddenly I felt so alone.
Fast forward 6 1/2 years and I have finally learned the secret to being a good mom. Find other good moms and cling to them. Actually, just find good women and hold on to them for dear life. Truthfully, I didn’t realize this until a couple of years ago but ever since, my life has been one million times better.
You always hear that it takes a village and as trite as this phrase my have become lately, it is so very true. You need a tribe, you need a support system that isn’t your family. You need people who love you at your worst and smelliest (think 3 days without a shower). You need people that will drop everything to help you out. And dammit, you need someone to put on your emergency contact form for your kid’s school.
The other part of this key to happiness is that not only do you need these people, you need to BE one of them. You need to be willing to do for them, what they are willing to do for you. You need to support each other and not compete. There is absolutely NO ROOM for competition of any kind in the motherhood tribe. Respect, kindness, understanding, and admiration are the only things allowed. You need to trust them and be trustworthy. You must weed out the toxic people in your life, they will only bring you down. When you’re trying to raise your pack, there is no reason to have people around them or you that make you feel bad about yourself. Your children will feed off the people you love and learn to love just like they do. Surround yourself with good examples and you’ll be amazed at what your children learn when you’re not looking.
I am lucky. So very lucky. I have a tribe that I adore. It took me a long time to find the confidence in myself to realize that I could be friends with people I once thought were “out of my league” but when I finally put myself out there and opened my mind, I found the people that have helped me survive this crazy train. They offer late night group texts about karaoke and Thursday night Scandal parties. They offer encouragement even when I’m the slowest runner. They offer their time and their babysitters. They are just there – they exist out there in this universe and I know that I can count on them if I need them. I hope they know they can count on me. I spent too much time being lonely in motherhood. I spent too much time letting toxic people poison me and I am so glad that I found this place and these people.
So much of who we become as women and mothers is made up of who we know. People leave a very very big part of themselves on your soul and surrounding yourself with the right kind of people will change your life. It will also show your children how to find the same types of people.
Find. Your. People.
Put yourself out there. Be friendly and be yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Find the people who make you a better person.
Find the people that will leave a handprint on your heart.