I looked forward to showers. Not for all the reasons you'd think, though. It wasn't because I had few moments to myself -- finally reclaiming the body that had become so foreign to my eyes. It wasn't because I had a few moments away from the baby, who had become more of a fifth limb than a separate entity. It wasn't even the feeling of cleanliness after stripping off spit-up-stained shirts.
Showers were magical. In the shower, my tears would cease to exist the minute they left my eyes. With the gentle stream of the shower, any trace of sorrow -- any inkling of loneliness -- would be washed away before I could even acknowledge their presence. I would watch the water spiral down the drain, hoping my feelings of emptiness would follow behind. Each time, I would think it was the last time I would cry.
But, it wasn't.
There were many more days. But, I never sought help. I always blamed myself -- my inadequacy, my hormones, my struggle to adjust to my new life.
The truth is, it was me. It was just me. All day, every day. And, that was the problem.
I was walking the path of motherhood alone. I could see the footsteps of the generations of mothers before me. Unlike my lonely steps, they walked in tribes. The path they had paved was meant to be walked by many -- together and at once. I could envision mothers stopping along the way to attend to fussy toddlers, mothers carrying younger ones and letting the older ones run ahead. Children were watched by dozens of eyes, and held by dozens of arms. I could hear the banter between the women as they sought advice from one another, and vented their frustrations. I could feel the strength of their bond as they shared their moments of joy and love.
For months, I continued to walk alone. I would see another like me across the park playing with her baby and would exchange nothing more than a smile. I would see another like me struggling to entertain a restless toddler at the grocery store and would exchange nothing more than a look of understanding. I would see another like me, and wonder, why can't we walk together?
I refuse to shed tears in solitude. I will find a shoulder.
I refuse to settle with smiles and looks. I will strike up a conversation, and learn about you and your children.
I refuse to raise my son alone. I will be your eyes and ears, and you'll be mine.
I refuse to experience the greatest joy of my life without another mother to share it with. I will rejoice in the sound of your baby's laughter and take pride in her accomplishments.
I refuse to collapse in exhaustion each night. I will be more than a helping hand. I will be a voice of reassurance in moments of uncertainty, and a warm embrace in moments of loneliness.
I refuse to walk alone. I will rediscover that lost village.
I know that I am not the only one mourning the lost village. With community-building initiatives like Mom Meet Mom, I see that change is in the air. We are tearing down the walls of our city condos and suburban homes and connecting with one another. We are rediscovering the joy of interdependence and community. We are rebuilding our tribe, one woman at a time. In each of our hearts is the hope that perhaps one day we will walk the path of motherhood together.
Will you walk with me?