“Women can do hard things. You, my friend, can do hard things.”
The following blog was shared with us by Kellie Campbell a Commissioner for the Vermont Commission on
The following blog was shared with us by Kellie Campbell a Commissioner for the Vermont Commission on Women (VCW). Kellie Campbell is Chief Technology Officer at Vermont Tech and serves as the chair of VCW’s Education and Human Development Committee. She lives in Georgia, VT with her husband and two young children. Born and raised in the Northeast Kingdom by her mom, she is a strong advocate for advancing the rights and opportunities for women and girls in Vermont.
I find myself replaying that sentence in my mind, again and again, in recent days. Becoming a mother in the most “normal” of days, however personally defined, can be challenging – but in the middle of an international pandemic!? The complexity of the times adds a layer of anxiety and uncertainty I am sure not many thought of as being in the realm of possibility as they sought to venture down the path of motherhood.
I, myself, have a sweet 9 month old at home. Just as the pandemic took shape in the states, I found myself just coming out of the haze of the first 6 months. The days still a blur, but my bearings were slowly coming together. Then, all hit. And I found myself feeling a lot of emotions – for so many – for so many reasons – but one evening as I nursed by beautiful son, I was specifically overwhelmed for fellow moms. Specifically on my mind, the soon to be moms. Those approaching one of the most monumental moments in life and getting ready to do so during a pandemic! I had an overwhelming feeling to help, to bond, to stand in solidarity with those navigating this journey and whether personally overwhelmed or not (some are handling this far better than I, I admit!), letting them know I was there. That I cared – that I do care – deeply. What came from that overwhelming feeling was an effort to gather letters from current moms with the intention of then sharing them with new moms. Short, long, honest, raw, beautiful, funny, sad…whatever they might be, words from one mom to another. Letters of love – to new moms, love new moms.
“It takes a village and now our village is fragmented.”
Within a few short days, friends, family, and those a degree or two apart sent letters. Since then, I have worked to share them with new moms in the hospital and with communities and groups on social media. I have had no particular destination or number to reach – it has been an organic effort. My personal goal is that if they help one person, it was worth the effort. In a time of uncertainty, as one navigates a stage of life that normally “take a village”, it is important to let them know we are there for one another. We care. We are thinking of them. Whether we know one another by name or not, the experience of motherhood it a journey that bonds us. It might feel fragmented, but the supports system still exists – it just needs to look different at this point in time.
The letters have ranged from simple truths…
“Didn’t shower today? Haven’t brushed your teeth either? Know what, that doesn’t matter!”
…to moments of pure honesty:
“The other evening I found myself sitting in the front seat of my car, in my garage, in the dark, having a glass of wine. And when all I could smell was my baby’s poop, I realized it was dry poop all up the back of my arm from his blow-out that day. And I recall I didn’t focus on properly cleaning it all up as I was on a work conference call and trying to answer my 5-year-old daughter’s 500 why questions. Hot mess? I cried, then laughed. What can you do!?”
And finally, simply encouraging, with a reminder that there is an underlying sense of power and strength in us all:
“I am reminded daily of the strength, power, love, beauty, and determination of women. I am also reminded daily (sometimes every second) of how incredible mothers are and how special babies are. I am writing tonight to simply remind you that you are one of those women and mamas!”
The letters, and the words, are honest. They carry no judgement. They do not seek to exclude, yet offer words to those that are living similar experiences. They are intended to uplift, ensure a sense of solidarity, and break down barriers to the idea of having to have it all together during this time. And after this phase passes, and we navigate a new sense of normalcy, I am personally confident that the warrior women that navigated child birth during this time will help inform and shape a future for our children that is unlike anything before.
“You have performed the universe’s greatest miracle by giving birth to another human, and you have done so under extraordinary circumstances in one of the most unusual (and scary) times in our collective history.”
I hope to expand and continue this journey, helping others. I invite you to contribute by sending a letter to be shared, or perhaps you are reading this and need to read them yourself. Wherever you are on your personal journey, navigating it during a time of such uncertainty, the key is to know there is a community that cares. There is a community that wants to see you succeed. Even though I have been through this motherhood process before, I am humbled by how things I have experienced before can still feel so new and uncertain. These moments are raw and real – utterly exhausting – but in reflection, so define “living”. A step at a time, a day at a time…and this too shall pass. And I know I will somehow find myself wishing I could do it all over again.
I invite you to visit https://about.me/momsinsolidarity to contribute or consume. Whatever helps fill your soul. With admiration, respect, awe, love.