Let’s face it. Motherhood is tough. It doesn’t matter if you live in a small town in the middle of no where or in the bright lights of Hollywood. Whether you have very little money or enough to throw around carelessly. The act of motherhood in and of itself is tough. It is for that reason that it is vital that mothers have a support system. A group of people in her life that can lift her up when she is low. People who can ground her when she is losing it. A support system that will stand by her in both good times and bad and offer support, advice and guidance. For many women one of those people that is so integral in her life is her own mother. That is not, however, always the case. Sometimes women do not have mothers they can count on or who are even around to be able to call upon when needed. Which is why a support system should be an integral part of every mother’s life.
My own mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis before my first son was born. At first, she was there as a mentor. But as the years went on and the the disease took its toll, I lost that mentor. Rather than floating above the realm of reality or getting bogged down in the depths of despair, I reached out to other women. Women I respected, admired and trusted. I cannot imagine where I would be if I did not have the women in my life who loved me enough to call me on the things in my life–in my parenting– that could have been detrimental to me or to my children. They were like tethers in my life. I was able to fly solo and be the Mom I knew how to be, but when I drifted too far off course, they were able to reign me in with a gentle tug and a supportive hand. It made all the difference in the world to me. It literally saved my life.
But what about Moms who do not have that? What about the Moms who do not have people around them who are willing and able to say, “You are way off course here. You have to get help!” What about the women who are surrounded by people who either encourage erratic behavior or just don’t have the gumption to say, “ENOUGH! Look at your life and look at your children! You will lose them if you do not get help!”
Look at Britney Spears.
It doesn’t take the recent court ruling stating that she must hand over custody of her sons to Kevin Federline this week “until further order of the court” to see that perhaps this Mom is in trouble. That certainly was not the first sign that she was in trouble. Where were her lifelines? Her tethers? Her mentors? If ever there is a need for stable people in a person’s life, it is in Hollywood. How many of us watched this train wreck long before it came down to this? How many of us shook our heads at the entire situation as it was plastered all over the front page of tabloids, magazines and “entertainment news” shows? But who stepped forward and helped this struggling Mom?
This news wasn’t really shocking, but it was distressing. I want to believe that Spears had to know that her failure to show up at the parenting classes and drug counseling sessions Gordon ordered her to attend and her apparent refusal to sign a judge’s order would result in the loss of her two kids.
But, I could be wrong. Maybe she had no one to remind her that she had to do it since her lawyer, manager, parents and a handful of friends and employees had either turned on her or abandoned her completely. (emphasis mine)
Some folks just don’t like riding on trains in which the next stop is a brick wall.
We have all made mistakes. Some minor and common. Some that are huge and life changing. Either way, we have all made mistakes in out mothering. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. Who do you turn to? Do you have a support system? A mentor? Someone who will kick your butt when it needs to be kicked and kiss your cheek when you need to be loved or just praise you when you so desperately need to hear that you are doing a good job in a very tough position?
Thanks to the online world, there are those who do not have anyone in person who can help them. Have you ever tried to step into a situation and criticize a mommyblogger who has admitted shame in doing something she feels was bad or wrong? Good luck to you if you do because that is one strong community and we look out for one another. Not only do we support each other through our similar trials–potty training, sleepless nights, colic– but we look to women who have been there before to help us through the hard times too– dating, driving, puberty.
And it isn’t just motherhood alone. I believe that mentors are amazing for women when it comes to parenting and career. Because? The two do not exist in a vacuum. One does inevitably effect the other. Sometimes you need a person to help you realize that one may not compliment the other and you need to step back. Sometimes career moves that seem to be ideal may not be and we need these mentors to grab us by the collar and let us see the big picture.
Who are the mentors in your life? Do you have someone or a group of people who will be there when you need them most? To trust their judgment when yours may not be the best? That is the hard part. Trusting someone who does have a clearer picture of what you are doing and how it can effect your life, your career and most importantly, the lives of your children. Where were those people for Britney? Who are those people for you? Share them with us. Not sure you have one? Shout out. I promise you will find one.
Me? I have so many it would take up pages to list them. I have been blessed to find mentors and a support system both online and in real life who have helped me along. And because I have the floor, I want to thank them. Namely my peers and fellow mommybloggers who have been there in good times and bad to help guide me when I have those “I just can’t do this!” days. I would love to name them all, but I just could not. Each mom I have become friends with–become a part of a support system known as mommyblogging– has touched me in ways I just cannot begin to list. But there are a few that I simply have to name as they have been there for me in so many ways– motherhood, career and life.
Just to name a few: Cynthia Samuels. Have you met her? If not, meet her. She is one of the most amazing women I know. She has been a support in both my career and my personal life. She sees in me the person I want to become. I am all the better for knowing her.
Jory DesJardins. (Yes, our Jory.) She has been there when her life is so busy she probably doesn’t even have time to sleep. She is the type of woman who sees through mistakes to who you really are and stands by you. She has been an amazing mentor when I come to her with career questions. Never once turning me away. (And trust me on how busy she is. She could very easily say no.)
The best selling author Shirley Jump was one of those women who blew me away with advice and support these past two years. Though a bestselling author and very sought after woman when it comes to writing advice, she was one of the first people to contact me after my mother died. She encouraged me to keep pushing through with my writing and take the mental break when I needed to do so. She got it. She walked me through one of the toughest times of my life–and with a book deadline looming!
And one of the sweetest bloggers I have met online, cassie-b, who I have begged to adopt me on more than one occasion. When it seems like I am at wits end with parenting, she always gives me a fresh perspective on motherhood. (And, hey, Buzz turned out pretty great, so she must know what she is talking about.)
Tell me about your mentors, your support system. Need one? You will find one here. Just ask.
Jenn is off to work on becoming the person these mentors and friends think she actually is.
Cross posted on BlogHer
Good post. Definately food for thought. I’m fortunate to have always had a large and very strong support system between family and friends and co-workers. I have 3 sisters who all live within 1 mile from me and a group of friends that I wouldn’t do without.
Boy, a mentor or some support would have been great. But my family doesn’t live close to me and will never come visit or call. My family by marriage is always “too busy.” And friends? Well, sure, there were a few play group meetings when PunditGirl was little. But I have to say, I’ve never really had a support group. Plus, there were attachment issues we had (and still have) to deal with, which many people poo-poo, so that leaves me out in the cold, too. Maybe that’s why I’m so into the blogging thing.
I would have killed for just a one-person support group.
This is a great post. My mother-in-law has been a great mentor to me. Love her dearly!
True food for thought… I don’t know if I have a mentor currently, though I have a great couple of friends to turn to. But I TRY to be he mom mentor to the young moms I work with. Not someone to hand out advice when not asked, but someone to whom they can turn when in need of it or just a shoulder…
PS – Shirley is SO awesome as a person. That writing stuff is just a bonus.
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She needs something or someone. I keep wondering about the family members who managed her career; is she worth less because her earning power has divebombed? Come on, family, she’s one of yours.
I feel for the kids — but in a way, I feel for her, too. I know worse moms who still have their kids.
No mentors here. My mother never had a good piece of advice to offer. And I have always lived far from family till the last few years. I think if you have someone to talk to, that’s a very lucky thing.
My mistakes, and I hope there weren’t too many, were mine. And I just had to try and fix them myself.
I think this is what so many women are missing (myself included). I was just thinking the other day that I have other moms I can call when I need a last minute babysitter or something of the like, but I have no friends I can call to go out for coffee or just talk. Sad, really.
This is the second time I’ve read this post but it’s just now that I’ve appreciated the wisdom it carries.
When I become a mommy, I know my mom will be here, that at least I am sure of. I have cousins too who are moms now, and maybe i can turn to them sometimes. Just that I’m not sure because we have one cousin who, like Brittney, needs her own mommy support system. There so many people around her, but no one is able to cut through. She’s not reckless or anything like that, she just has actions and decisions that may not necessarily well thought of. Sometimes i think she looks to me to be her support system. I hope I was able to provide her one, in my own limited way.
Lots of hugs to you Jenn, and to your support system 🙂
What a wonderful article. I have made a lot of decisions on my own using my own mother’s instinct, and trying to do what I think is best for my family and their needs. I find I become a little wiser each time I make a decision especially now that the kids are school age. A support system is always incredibly important. We mustn’t forget that we are human and all humans can make mistakes, so laugh at them and don’t stress out too much.
I have been lurking around for the past two weeks, mainly because I haven’t had the two seconds to comment.
Every post I’ve read and I went through your archives touches my heart in the biggest way.
I kind of wish you lived around the corner.
I haven’t had the support system (friends or family-other than my father and one best friend in PA but one who hasn’t been there for me in “real-life” in 20 years)that I’ve needed my whole life and now being a mother without a mom, who passed away almost two years ago, my blogging has been my way of trying to create that life that I desperately am hanging onto in my mind without going insane.
Now that my son has started preschool, we are definitely seeing changes in making “new friends” but it has been a long almost 5 years to get to this point, while being a stay at home mom.
Keep up the wonderful, tear jerking, heartfelt, insightful and wonderful comic timig, pouring out of your soul.
My mom is my biggest and closest mentor. I am very lucky to have her in my life. She has been through alot in her life, is wise, and is very good at offering advice and suggestions without being overbearing. I love her so much.
My other mentor/person in my support system is my best friend. She lives 1000 miles away, but we stay in contact via IM and phone calls throughout the day. We are both SAHMs and we are each other’s greatest support. I love her to pieces.
I’ve been following your blogs lately. These wonderful thoughts will surely make young women more prepared for motherhood. Great Post, keep up the excellent word!
Love & Gratitude,
Think Simple. Be Decisive.