Thursday, April 16, 2009

Confession is good for the soul

or so the saying goes. In the case of moms today confession helps but I do believe here is more to this puzzle than just confession. It's the loneliness that we often face as new moms that drives us to do certain things. In the video that opened on the Today Show on April 16 (see article here:Maternal sin: Moms confess their secrets - Working Mom's Guide there are funny, questionable, and heart wrenching true stories of motherhood and the challenges we face. True Mom Confessions was born out of one mother's need for an outlet and the realization that we all need an outlet and perhaps family is not quite the right outlet.

My outlet has almost always been friends. It's not their fault, but husbands, partners, and our mothers just do not understand. A few weeks ago I had a long conversation (well, several long conversations) with a friend who had found herself unexpectedly pregnant with her third child. She didn't know where to turn or who else to talk to, so she called me. We discussed the blessings and challenges of having a third child. At the end of the conversation, she still wasn't sure what to do about it, but said she felt better. Within two days the roller coaster ride she was on took one of those upside down flips at lightning speed and she felt as thought she was spinning out of control with out the seat belt. It turned out that her pregnancy was ectopic. Another wave of emotions. Almost immediately after the "happy" shock of being pregnant came the inevitable sadness of a loss.

While we spoke, I said that if it were a hundred years ago and we were having this discussion while washing clothes in the river I'd stop what I was doing and give her a hug and tell her I was there for her. All I could do was send a hug via cell phone. We agreed that the village is missing. In our harried lives, we are missing that very important network of friends who understand and want to help. Who can help just by listening ,something my friend's mother and sister were not able to do.

There seem to be a myriad of new books and popular web sites and blogs out there recognizing the honest struggles of mothers today. Are the struggles any different from what they were when we were kids? Lifestyles are different- yes we are busier, but I think just in a different way. My mother often tells me how easy it was when I was little- a group of moms would get together and all drop the kids at one person's house and everyone else would go off and play tennis. This way, everyone got a turn to babysit and everyone got a turn to play tennis. I have to say, I'm not sure that as a new mother I would have wanted to watch 5 other kids- handling my own was enough. Even if it meant some free time to myself. At the same time, if a friend of mine is watching 5 other kids, how well is she watching mine? Instead, we now take our kids to gym, swim, or music classes for group stimulation and something to keep us busy during what can otherwise be a very long, lonely day.

I found my sanity in my first friend. I finally had someone who I could confess to (I never hoped the dog would get the vomit, or pushed my kids over while they were learning to walk) but at least I could complain to someone who might also have had a recent bad night's sleep and who understood. At the time, having an online community would have been great, but 7 years ago, it was not what it is now. I needed the village no matter how small it was , and believe me it was small! For a long time.

I think we still need the live village, not just so we can spew after a bad day, but so we can support and share. The most important thing, whether you are confessing or just talking, is having someone to listen so you do not feel alone. Sharing is ok, but be careful for who's listening. The proper audience is paramount to the "succcess" of the confession.

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