This has been the probably the most challenging week of my motherhood so far. (I feel very grateful to be able to make that statement given what I'm about to explain).
As I mentioned in my last letter, my daughter Nova, who is usually an outgoing, easy-going child, struggled this week to adjust to her new school. The week started off hard, but got worse before it finally got better.
On Wednesday, I came home from leaving her wailing with her teacher, sat at the dining table with a box of tissues nearby and cried.
I won't bother explaining what I was feeling because every mother reading this knows exactly what that feels like. And even if you're not a mother just yet or don't plan/want to be, you know the feeling of standing by while someone you love suffers.
But it was what I did (while dropping fat tears onto my blue velvet dining chairs) that I do want to talk about...
I reached out to my community for support.
I messaged friends from business school on our group chat. I called Nova's dad. I sent separate notes to moms of kids who were at Nova's old school who had made a similar transition. I called my mom and messaged my sister. I booked a call with Nova's teacher.
A part of me felt that I should get back to work, instead of wasting time having conversations about what Nova and I were experiencing. But I knew I had to feel my feelings and also come up with a plan.
Do you know what I received from that hour of outreach?
- Validation. That my feelings were natural and normal. Everyone who knows Nova understood why her reaction to school was so surprising and difficult for me to understand and process.
- Support. That I was not alone, that other moms had been through the same, that other kids were also having a hard time adjusting. Sharing your problems with others lightens the load of carrying them on your own.
Solutions. Through reaching out, I received so many ingenious ideas for how to best help Nova adjust through the transition that I would have never found just by googling "my kid hates grade one" (her words by the way).
- Reassurance. I needed to hear that Nova will get through this and that I can help her through it.
- Insight. One friend told me, kids are stronger than we think they are. They express their emotions freely, which makes them seem intense, but they are naturally resilient and built to adapt. This little nugget of wisdom gave me a lot of comfort.
Sympathy. Sometimes, we just need sympathy. We need someone to say, yes, this is really hard. Yes, it is heartbreaking.
This week, as challenges come up, instead of feeling like you have to tackle it all on your own, reach out to your community. We all benefit when you ask for help. It gives us a chance to be there for you, to share our experience and gifts with you. Asking for help deepens our connection to one another and reminds us all how much we need each other and that we are stronger together.
Kena Paranjape, Founder, All You Are