Wednesday, June 15, 2016

When Mamas Hibernate...

As we get closer to meeting our baby girl (I am 35 weeks along today), I have been reflecting on ways people have helped us in the past that have really blessed us.  I am part of what seems to be a pregnancy wave this time around, and I hope to shed some light on how we can help new mamas.  Because we will be welcoming our third child, we are well versed in what has served us well and what has not.  Read on if you are curious or would like to be part of a welcoming and transitioning community for a new or current mom in your life.

We eat anything and everything!  Favorites include pasta,
chicken dishes and seafood.
1.  Do offer to bring us meals.  

They can be homemade, take-out or store-bought.  Check to make sure that the family you're feeding doesn't have any food allergies.  And if they do, avoid using those ingredients.

We, personally, have no known food allergies.  This makes it very easy to feed us!  Acts of Service is my dominant love language, so my love tank is full when people help in this way (and so is my stomach—winning!).   My mother-in-love, Kathy, and one of my closest friends, Jenn, will be in charge of organizing this when the time comes. Getting in touch with them would be a great move if you are interested!

Don't expect an extended visit when you drop off food. Families will typically set up a general time for meal drop offs (ex:  between 5:30-6:30 pm) that is most convenient for them.  Sometimes I have said hello to those dropping off food and briefly introduced them to the baby, other times I have not.

Mothers may be nursing, catching up on sleep, bathing, keeping other children in line, etc.  Life becomes unpredictable for a season.  Do not take it personally if they aren't the hostess with the mostest when you come around.

2.  Do reach out to us.  

This may sound impersonal and calloused, but texting usually works best during this season of life, and will work even more so when the baby comes.  (Please reread #1 under Don't expect an extended visit... if confused.)

Exceptions to this include emergencies, needing to discuss specific situations and conflict resolution—all of which are done better in conversation, either over the phone or in person.  There is too much that can be misread and miscommunicated by text message.

Don't expect an immediate response.  We will get back to you as soon as we can.  If a couple of hours have passed and you still have not heard from us, it does not necessarily mean that we have not read or appreciated your message.  We simply have not gotten around to responding yet.

3.  Do offer to entertain older children (if you have a relationship with them).  

Newborns are completely helpless and dependent on their parents, especially mom.  If there are older siblings in the family, they will be in need of extra love and attention for the first couple of months while everyone transitions.
A couple of our favorite babysitters brought over ingredients
to make Rice Krispy treats for our children; they thought that
was awesome!
Don't expect to take them away on a day-long field trip (unless you are a close, trusted relative or family friend that has done this before).  Some of the best babysitters we have had showed up with surprises for the children or toys they could play with during their time together.  The children love them, and it gives them a break from playing with their usual toys.

4.  Do give us time to transition.  

Everything changes when a baby joins a family.  Everything.  If you start feeling like the relationship you had with a new mother is not the same, that's because it's not (especially if you do not have children of your own).  That does not mean that your friendship is no longer valuable or worth investing in, but it, too, will go through a transition.

Don't expect us to bounce back into all previous extra-curricular activities.  Perhaps this is only me, but I take my sweet time healing physically, mentally and emotionally after the birth of a child.  I am in no hurry to get back to normal life.  I admire those who quickly jump back into everything, but I am not one of them, nor do I desire to be.

Every mother is different, just like each child she raises will be.   Respect whatever boundaries she and her family establish, even if you do not agree with them.

5.  Do be ready to listen.  
Raising children:  it really does take a village!
Being a new mom or becoming a mother all over again can be overwhelming, frustrating and lonely.  Obviously, there are great blessings that come with having children or we wouldn't do it, especially more than once.  Knowing that you are an available ear will bring great comfort to her.

Don't be quick to give advice... unless she asks for it.  New parents, especially, have no idea what they're doing.  Those of us who have done it a couple more times still can have no idea.  None of us is perfect at it or gets it right every time.  Trying to correct her or give your two cents when she hasn't asked for them will only hurt her.

These pointers have worked well for us and close friends of mine and their families that I have observed.  Above all, celebrate and rejoice with the new mothers in your life!  It truly is a wonderful time.

What have been some helpful ways people have served you during these transitions, or what are some unique ways you have served others?  I would love to hear your ideas!

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