Musings and recipes from a 30-something Catholic military wife and mama. Surely I've got this figured out by now.
Friday, April 28, 2017
Finding My Tribe
For those of you who are friends with me on Facebook, you may have noticed that I changed my profile picture last week, to the picture you see above this paragraph. Back when I was pregnant with Alessandra, I joined a group of moms who were all pregnant as well. We found each other online via a community group, and we banded together and formed a Facebook group for our 2013 babies. Even though most of us have never met face to face, we've become very close over the years. We've bonded together over sleepless nights and newborn struggles, colic, fights with our husbands, older children who were acting out, losing the baby weight, unexpected diagnoses, and worst of all, losses. One of the mamas in our group is going through a particularly difficult time right now. I have no intention of revealing her personal information on my blog, but I will say that she is in desperate need of love, prayers, and support. In addition to donating money and sending her a care package, all of us in the group changed our profile pictures to the one shown above. While many may argue that changing your picture requires practically zero effort and does little to help the person in need, I respectfully disagree. Just knowing that people have your back, even if the only way they reached out to you was by changing their profile picture, can provide some much-needed relief.
We've all heard the phrase, "It takes a village to raise a child." I couldn't agree more. But...what if you don't have a village? That's more common than most people realize. As a military spouse, I'm used to packing up my life every two years, saying goodbye to my friends, and moving to a completely unfamiliar area to start over. It's exhausting, it's maddening, and it can be very discouraging. I've come to realize over the years that while motherhood is a beautiful, wonderful thing that has definitely changed my life for the better, it's also lonely, overwhelming, and at times, depressing. I need my sisterhood. I need my village. I need my tribe. It's taken me longer than I care to admit, but I'm finally comfortable walking up to our new neighbors and introducing myself, joining the Catholic Women of the Chapel group at every new military base, and going out of my way to chat with other parents on the playground, at church, even at the pediatrician's. We can't do this alone, and more importantly, we weren't meant to do this alone. Sometimes the only way I'll get a chance to see my friends is to invite them into our crazy, messy life with four little ones. We'll let the kids wreak havoc upstairs, pulling every single toy they've ever owned out of a toybox, while my friend and I crack open a few hard ciders and just let loose. We joke about our kids' mishaps, our husbands who need to be reminded no fewer than eight times to take out the trash, military life struggles, what have you. By the time she leaves, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my chest. It doesn't matter that it looks like a hurricane ran through our second floor, or that our kids are wound up after a playdate. I got my time to sit back, and take a breath.
Two weeks ago, I had back surgery. Anterior lumbar interbody fusion, to be specific. My neurosurgeon, working with a team of doctors, cut through my stomach to fuse my L5/S1 in my lower back. The surgery was a success, but I have a projected recovery time of eight weeks. I won't lie...it's been hard. I'm the type of person who can't just loaf around in bed when there are things that need to get done. There's always laundry, always something that needs to be cooked or baked, always a bathroom that needs to be cleaned, a floor that needs to be swept, children who have to be cared for...the list goes on. Realizing that I couldn't do ANY of those things for at least a few weeks was very unsettling to me. The part that caused me the most stress, however, was, "what kind of a burden am I going to be to everyone?" Will and I truly couldn't do this on our own. My zia Francesca and zio Steve graciously opened up their home to Will and our four kiddos while I was in the hospital in Atlanta. They cared for our children, made delicious meals, visited me in the hospital, and even gave them baskets on Easter morning. My sister-in-law, Aimee, flew up from Texas to help with the transition back home. She cared for our kids, made meals, waited on me hand and foot. My mother flew up last weekend, and she plans on staying as long as I need her. The kids are thrilled to have Nana here, and like my aunt and uncle and sister-in-law, she's been a godsend (she's currently at a McDonald's play area with all four kids, if you feel like offering up a prayer for her!). Our neighbors, whom I've only known for a few months, took wonderful care of Murphy while I was in the hospital in Atlanta. They got together and gave me a get-well bag of goodies. Friends in the neighborhood dropped off meals for us. My best friend from home (and her parents) sent me gift cards. To say I am grateful and humbled is inadequate. I can never express my gratitude towards everyone who helped us, and writing simple thank-you notes seems almost pathetic. All I can manage to say to everyone, is that I will absolutely do the same for everyone (once I've recovered, obviously), and all you have to do is ask.
It may have taken a long time, and there may have been many bumps in the road, but I've found my tribe. Life has been rough for a long time; living with chronic pain can truly destroy your outlook on everything. It's been a very difficult journey for me, and there have been many times when everything just felt so incredibly hopeless. I was able to get my life back through prayer, wonderful friends (both in person and online), and the very necessary doctors and surgical procedures. I still have a long recovery ahead of me, but I know that I'm not alone. I have my friends, I have my family, and I have God. I'm getting my life back, piece by piece, and for the first time in a long time, I feel as though I have things to look forward to. To everyone who helped me, no matter how, please know that you have my unending gratitude and love. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.