I feel sorry for young mothers these days. When I was in that situation, I felt as if everything I needed to know was at my fingertips. Either the women my age were all in the same space – planning babies, getting pregnant, or just having had a baby, or the older women were there to lend advice, share the babysitting, keep a careful eye during family events…whatever needed doing. We were young, we were impressionable, we were sure it would be wonderful. What we weren’t was uninformed.
Today, we have the internet and oodles of information provided by books, websites, blogs, and cute youtube videos. What so many of the young mothers – especially those in the city – don’t have is the joy of having family and friends nearby to fill in the gaps of what it’s really like. Reading about how to handle a crying baby at midnight is not the same as a phone call to a mom around the corner, eager to listen and share how it was for her, or ask if you’ve tried a particular method. There are thousands of experts at your fingertips on a mobile phone, and all of that is useful, yes. But to go across the street to have your friend take a look at a nasty scrape instead of trying to find an exact replica on healthmed.com is a whole new level of security.
I’m not saying that our friends or family are experts of any kind, but perhaps if we had that sense of community that used to be so prevalent, maybe there would be fewer people heading to emergency departments when it’s just a young mother’s nerves rather than a real emergency. Maybe we’d have someone to take that crying baby off our hands while we cooled down and had a cup of tea. Maybe we’d feel more competent knowing that this particular episode “happens to everyone.”
So I’ve decided that it’s time for those of us with some experience under our belts to become the new touchstones for these young women. It doesn’t matter if our own families are nearby or far away. If we see a family or a caring young parent without the support that’s so critical to a happy childhood, let’s step up, reach out, and let them know that you’ve “been there, bought the t-shirt.”