Getting by with a little help from our friends...

by Susie Cortright

"Cassie needs to get back to her playgroups," my husband says as he hands me the week's mail. We haven't left the house in days as I'm trying to be vigilant about shielding the new baby from crowds and cold bugs.

Ty tells me how Cassie entered the post office and shouted with incredulity: "Look daddy, a little girl!" The two kids swapped junk mail and giggled for a time before my husband could wrangle Cassie back in the car. He sensed her desperation, and I think the whole thing struck him as a bit pathetic.

"Yes, she's starting to go out of her mind, not having other kids to play with," I agree, but he and I both know we're not talking about just Cassie.

As the days get longer, my husband has been leaving earlier for work. That means that some days, by 10 a.m., the girls and I have done two loads of clothes, seven diaper changes, and two baths. We have fingerpainted, made playdough pizzas, read eleven books and played six rounds of Hide and Seek.

And it means that, by this time in the middle of the morning, I'm already wondering how I'm going to fill the remaining eight hours of my husband's workday.

In short, I miss Cassie's playdates. I love having friends come to visit us, but I miss packing the girls in the car and heading over the hill to where the action is. I miss the squeak of dried-up markers and the salty smell of playdough from Tuesday's playgroup. I miss the librarian's nervous giggle during story hour on Wednesdays. I miss the library's cardboard clubhouse where Cassie can safely retreat from her mommy for ten minutes each week. I miss Thursday's tumbling class and all the giggles and squeals of the two-year-olds as they skooch off the pommel horse and roll across the mats.

I miss our weekly Mom's Night Out. (Okay, I REALLY miss Mom's Night Out.) I suppose that means I miss Cassie's friends, but - most of all - I miss the mommies of Cassie's friends. These are women who reassure me that I can handle about as much as I have to handle. They are women who encourage me to be a good mom just by being good moms themselves. The last two weeks has brought to light how much I rely on their insight, their senses of humor, their abilities and their support.

In the interim, I have come to rely on this, my online support network. Your e-cards and emails mean so much to me and help me to reconnect any time of day, even in the wee hours, which is usually the only time I can sneak away for computer time. I've printed and saved some of your encouraging words. I keep them in a file for those infrequent but very real days when I feel as empty and spent as a crushed soda can by 10 a.m.

Even in the face of those long days, an existing support network of moms with children of similar ages and stages has made all the difference with this second child.
Momscape features articles on how stay-at-home moms can cope with isolation as well as tips on creating a support group of your own. Check them out. Then, choose a night this week to get together with your friends - sans kids. Enjoy a glass of wine or a tall, cold Coke and the company of adults. Then make a point to encourage one another because no one can do that like a mom.