These are my people. This is my tribe. Of these people, I am certain.

 
When I was a new mom, I found myself at home for the first time in years with a very difficult baby and friends who I had less and less to talk with about each time we met. My friends were still teaching and hanging out, having drinks after work. My friends were still mostly childless and single. They had slept entire nights through and were not at all interested in hearing about how impossible it was to locate one of the nearly 4,000 pacifiers I knew I had bought. I found myself alone more and more. And then, I found myself utterly lonely. Lonely for a new mom is a truly hard and horrible thing. Even worse, lonely for a new mom with a high needs baby is a disaster waiting to happen.  
 
Tracy and Friend
 
Motherhood for me had come after a childhood full of the worst things, a stint as a high school teacher full of the best things, a journey into fertility treatments full of the hardest things, and a relationship with my soul mate over 8 years strong at that point full of the sweetest things. I was a great, big, giant pot full of everything, and I walked right into motherhood with the most audacious “I got this” attitude only your early thirty-something self can pull off. Except…. I quickly learned that I didn’t have “this” at all. Motherhood didn’t come easily or naturally to me, and my son, having been in an orphanage his entire existence, didn’t quite know how to be mothered. Having been raised by wolves myself, I found myself digging my heels in with this hard, Hard, HARD baby, desperately trying to mother when I had absolutely no appropriate frame of reference from which to draw. And did I mention that I had a REALLY HARD BABY???  Disaster. Waiting. To. Happen. I needed help.
 
If I had learned anything from those damned wolves, from the years of therapy and growth before having this child, from the softness and sweetness of the kindest soul I was blessed to call my partner, it was to square my shoulders and keep trying, to get up when I was knocked down. Feelings failed me sometimes, but I’ve always been a numbers and statistics kind of girl. I buy the mutual funds, not the big risk stocks. I bet on the long haul. The long game usually always ends in an upward stroke. When you’ve been at the bottom, you either die there or learn to look up. I had come down a road upon which I often found myself with more than my fair share of despair - and yet, I truly, every minute of my life, have believed that you can always know there is still hope in the simplest of ways…. If breath enters and leaves your body, hope exists. Just. Look. Up. And then get to work.
 
There was and is no instruction manual for this. I had to plot my own course. I had to step outside my comfort zone, to ask questions, to visit all of the places, and to talk to all of the people and to make every single effort I could to find some help and some support. 14 years ago, sans Facebook and the wealth of all things internet, this was one hard road. I look at these beautiful pictures of my people and know how blessed I am. I look at these pictures and remind myself that there’s a new mommy somewhere who needs help. A new father somewhere is grinding his teeth and staring down at his fierce and furious toddler and refusing to spank his baby like he was spanked. He needs support. Persevere new mamas and papas.  Find your tribe and persevere. Look up at that mommy at the park whose clearly not got it all together today or any other day. Smile at her. Ask her name. Reach your hand out to help the disheveled dad reeking of spit up in the grocery store. Tell him he’s doing his best and his best is just fine. Welcome the new and hard kids into your circle and invite them to your next play date. Keep inviting them. Even the biter. Plan something and ask everyone to invite someone new. Be part of the tribe of women and men who are figuring this thing out.

by Tracy Breaux

If you enjoyed this blog by Tracy, check out her other work "Valentine's Day Credo" and "Heart".

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