How a Type A Let Her Village In
I'll admit it. I was one of those smug women, pre-children, who thought that "it can't be that hard", referring to caring for children, maintaining a household, and running a business. I thought that it just took an extra dose of organization and planning, and boom! Everything would magically settle into place.
After all, a few years ago I had completed a masters degree while commuting three hours a day and working full time, planning a wedding, and getting married. And just last year I started a successful business while working full time. Who needed a village?!
My daughter came into the world on an unseasonably warm day in December, nearly two weeks past her due date, after almost two days of induced labor and five hours of pushing. After her slow and drawn out entry into the world, we went home a couple days later and began our life as a family of three plus dog.
As all mothers know, those first few days are confusing and emotional and difficult. I didn't want visitors because I wanted to figure it out on my own, with only my husband to support me. I stubbornly refused meals from family and insisted that I would take care of it. Google would help me with my breastfeeding questions and Amazon would deliver any supplies I needed. I could simultaneously sleep and run my business when the baby slept, and be able to manage just fine.
I sat on the couch after a shower one day, hair dripping wet, screaming baby in my arms, and sobbed. I felt like I had to nurse her, that she was probably hungry AGAIN, and I was the only one who could make her stop crying. My shoulders heaved as I cried to my husband, "I just want to dry my hair!" He took the baby from my arms and almost had to shove me into the bathroom.
In those ten minutes of what felt like silence, despite the blow dryer humming in my ear, something subconsciously changed inside of me. I couldn't do it alone. They say “it takes a village” for a reason and I had to let them in, like I let my husband take the baby while I dried my hair.
It was a subtle shift, but when my mother in law offered again to cook dinner I said yes, and it's hard to explain the relief I felt while standing at the kitchen island, eating a gigantic bowl of homemade soup and bread that I did not have to either procure or prepare myself.
It was difficult for me to allow others to prepare Christmas dinner a couple days later and watch from the sidelines; after all, in my finest Type A fashion, I have an entire notebook dedicated to holiday meal preparation. But the enjoyment I experienced eating a gorgeous turkey dinner surrounded by family, feeling rested, and holding my tiny newborn was unsurpassed.
In those first two weeks of my daughter’s life, I learned how to let my village in. While I sometimes felt weak or incompetent for not being able to muster the energy to peel my own orange for breakfast, they were at the ready with peeled oranges and bottles of ice water and cooked meals and open arms during the night to let me sleep, and hugs and smiles. No one thought I was weak or incompetent for needing support.
Type A women like myself are so accustomed to working hard and ticking accomplishment after accomplishment off the list in our education, careers, and lives. We've spent the last decade proving our competence to our professors, our colleagues, our family and friends, and ourselves which builds confidence in our own abilities. So when a seven pound bundle of squishy cuteness enters the world, we think our own competence is enough to survive. I learned that it's just not.
Letting my village in has been a humbling experience and an affirmation that I cannot and don't want to raise my daughter with only my husband. It has also made my motherhood experience so far all the richer and more fulfilling. Not only does my daughter get to be a part of this wonderful village of family and friends, but I, as her mother, am empowered with time and energy to continue growing my business and feeling fulfilled in my own life.
I'm grateful my husband forced me to blow dry my hair that day because that one simple gesture opened the door for my village to come in. While letting your village in may feel like defeat to a highly efficient Type A woman, it will undoubtedly lead to greater joy.