Aria’s first birthday / My Village

Yesterday was my daughter Aria’s first birthday.

Aria's first Birthday

Aria’s first Birthday

I am still exhausted. Exhausted, but happy. We celebrated by having a play date at the park with my mom friends and their kids. My aunt, who is like a grandmother to my daughter, brought desserts and treats from one of my favorite bakeries, Portos. She also brought snacks, water, juice boxes, decorations, and party favors. She is seriously the best. I was thrilled to see the new mom friends I’ve made since my daughter was born, as well as the mom friends I knew before baby. These women, along with the others I’ve befriended through meetup groups (which have turned into Facebook groups), parenting groups, and Baby Boot Camp, as well as my other mom friends and friends who have made an effort to see me after the baby was born are My Village.

Non-Mom Friends who continued to hang

Once the baby arrived, a lot of non-parent friends dropped off. I still consider them friends, but I know we are in different places in our lives that don’t happen to coincide at the moment. There are others who continue to hang and accommodate your new life. I appreciate them, and their genuine interest in my new life with a child.

Mom Friends I knew pre-baby

These are women I look up to. They are doing something I never thought I could do, and doing a darn good job at it. They found their way and generously offer advice when I ask. They are a wealth of knowledge and are amazing moms.

Mom Friends with babies the same age as yours

What a difference a few months make! I am thankful to know several moms whose babies are in the same age range as mine. These are the moms who I can vent to and share experiences about the stage our baby is going through such as eating solids, crawling, walking, and talking. It’s fun to see our babies hit these milestones around the same time, but it’s also important not to compare too closely. Among my daughter’s “birthday buddies,” (who are born in the same week), two of them are walking already while mine doesn’t seem close at all. Luckily, we are all supportive of each other in our varied milestone markers.

First-time Mom Friends

These are friends who are discovering parenting at the same time and it’s interesting to see and hear about the different methods we learn, because most of us seem to be searching for answers. We are a resourceful bunch and are very sympathetic to issues that arise. These moms like to get together a lot, and I can usually find a play date or meetup listed in this group.

Parenting Group Mom Friends

I attend “Raising Moms Up!” a Mom’s Group, at University Bible Church. This wonderful group of women is led by an inspiring, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable mom named Rebecca. This group is organized, meets every Wednesday, and covers a parenting book for the duration each session. In addition, there are guest speakers and activities. The moms in this group have children of varying ages and are of different backgrounds and religious beliefs. I love how this group is not only open to all, but are also very welcoming. The book we are covering this session is Nurture Shock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. I’ve learned so much through the discussions and have met and made friends with some amazing moms.

Exercise Group Mom Friends

For me, organized exercise works best. I started taking Baby Boot Camp classes a few months ago and so thankful I did. Getting motivated to work out is tough enough, but knowing there are other women in the same boat helps a lot. Working out with other moms is like meeting friends to hang out. Everyone I’ve met has been open and friendly, which is so different from the days of going to a gym.

Relatives

Of course, my relatives are part of my village. I’m sad that my immediate family lives on the other side of the country, but I love that they are just a phone call away. I talk to my mom at least 2-3 times a week, and after having my baby I am much closer to her, knowing what she went through.  It’s crazy how that really resonates once you are responsible for a life you helped create. I feel kind of bad sometimes, thinking back on the times I got so angry at my mom when I was young. Now, I realize she really was doing was the best she could do with the resources available.

As I mentioned before, my aunt is like my daughter’s grandmother. I am so lucky to have her near. Even though she works hard she always manages to find time to spend with my daughter and help out with whatever I need, and I am very thankful for that.

My Family

My husband, daughter, and I are a family now. Marriage is difficult, and parenting is even more difficult. Communicating, I’ve learned, is crucial. I keep reminding myself we are both learning how to do this parenting thing together, and we are doing the best we can for the family we formed. I love my little family, each day is a new learning experience.

The first year was, a wonderful and an amazing learning experience. I never thought I would learn so much about myself and love someone as much as I love my daughter. As she continues to grow, my village will expand, contract, and evolve along the way, and I am looking forward to every minute of it.