I arrived in Monterey, California ready to explore my new home and settle in for the next 21 months. I loved our new house, thought the rugged central California coast was one of the most beautiful places I had seen, and looked forward to more time with my husband, who was there to complete a Master’s degree. I was also six months pregnant.
As excited as I was about my new home, I also had a lot of questions. Most about our soon-to-be family of three. What was new motherhood going to be like? Should I set up childcare? Should I work? Stay home? What about a baby shower? All of these things racing through my mind, I reached out to family and mom friends I had made at previous duty stations. They had a lot of sage advice but being so far away, could only offer that.
I know many military spouses have a similar experience as they PCS, regardless of pregnancy or other changes in their family life. So how would I thrive as a new mother in a new place? Let’s be real—some days, I wondered how to just survive.
One of the best things I did was to find a mom tribe. I was fortunate enough to meet a great group of moms and fellow military spouses at a local stroller workout group. Ironically, it was my civilian sister-in-law who first connected me with them, having participated in a similar group in her area. Through our daily workouts, I was able to learn from fellow moms, was encouraged to join the Spouse’s Club on base, and made wonderful friends who have supported me in all areas of my life.
Three things you can gain from a supportive mom tribe:
- Confidence. If there’s one thing that new moms need (other than sleep), it’s confidence in their new role. Becoming a parent is one of the most profound transitions that a person faces in their adult life and like any new experience, it can be both overwhelming and humbling. Never before have mistakes felt so profound. Never before have questions been on the mind all of the time. Just hearing a simple “you got this, mama” from someone who sees how hard you are working can put that mom swagger in your step.
- Community. Establishing a community is important for new moms and new babies alike. In fact, a group that supports each other in trying times, celebrates achievements, and makes life richer is something the whole family can benefit from. Just as you are learning from other moms, your kids can learn from other kids and feel that they are part of something larger than themselves.
- Sanity. When you are going on day three without a shower, haven’t eaten a hot meal in just as long, and are hearing the same song on repeat from a baby toy for the hundredth time, you will want a break. And don’t get me started on the challenge of doing things like getting your teeth cleaned or your eyebrows waxed. Enter the mom tribe. The best way to get a babysitter is to trade for one. You take their kids on a certain day and they take yours on another. It will save your sanity and your eyebrows. Trust me on this.
If you are in this season of life, the one where you are facing a huge transition like becoming a parent, don’t hesitate to reach out to groups in your area. If you’re a workout enthusiast, look for a group that caters to moms. If you’re more of a book person, find a book club through your library. Whatever your thing is, find it! The biggest hurdle for most of us is taking that first step. But I can say from experience that it will not only provide a much needed outlet, it will often lead to other opportunities that you didn’t even know existed.
Posted by Katie Begley, NMFA volunteer and military spouse, Monterey, CA