We are not supposed to go at it alone
Two nights ago we spent our last night in the dingy little cottage we’d rented for two years. I can call it dingy now because we don’t live there anymore.
We had spent the day taking car loads over to the new house. This whole week we’ve been in that weird transition between two homes, those couple of days during a move that feel like a poorly planned camping trip. You don’t know what I’m talking about? That’s probably because you’re more together than me.
Anyhow, after a long day of throwing random junk into boxes and hauling it away, we came back to the place we’ve been living for two years to find out that we had no clothes to sleep in, no clothes to wear the next day, no toothbrushes, and worst of all, no diapers. I scoured our cars and found 12 half-empty water bottles, but no diapers.
We thought about going to the store, but it was late and we were exhausted after moving all day. You know what I’m talking about. So our desperation forced us to problem solve outside our normal convention. I wondered if we could buy one from our neighbor.
The farm we lived on was home to us, a few farm workers who slept in a garage, our landlords who lived in the main house, and another young family who rented a cottage like ours, but even smaller. This family had a two-year-old boy, and a girl just three weeks older than Baby G. I had heard about this other baby living on the property by our very chatty retired landlord who was thrilled about all the little ones living near her.
I knew this other mother’s name, and her new baby’s name from my landlord – but the entire time we lived there I had seen her maybe twice, and we hadn’t exchanged one word. We kept to ourselves.
But that night I really needed a diaper.
So I grabbed a dollar, hoping to pay more than market value for the diaper so I didn’t come across as a mooch. I made the 20 second walk to their home and knocked on the door.
The home was warm and smelled like they were cooking something delicious. I saw her little one – who was much bigger than Baby G with a lot more hair, but had the same chubby cheeks and vivacious smile of an 11-month-old girl. She was in a bouncer much like the one we have at home.
I asked the mother if I could buy a diaper and she laughed and said no, but that she’d give me one. She grabbed four diapers and handed them to me and said if I needed anything else to not hesitate to ask. She refused my dollar.
Walking back with the diapers in hand, I thought about all the times I really did need something – lanolin cream, wipes, someone to hold a fussy baby while I vacuum up glass shards from a vase that fell and shattered all over the floor. I thought about all the times that maybe she needed something too – baby Tylenol, or teething tablets, or someone to rock her baby to sleep so she could take a shower.
I thought about the past 10 months and how we (or at least I) faced motherhood in isolation. How I tried to sort though the pain from delivery, engorged breasts, lack of sleep and postpartum emotions on anonymous birthing groups online. I wondered if we could have instead supported each other as neighbors and fellow moms.
It was a small moment, this exchange of a couple diapers, but it reminded me how we aren’t meant to go at this alone. It can be tough though, wouldn’t you agree, to put ourselves out there, to ask for and offer help to our sisters. But that kind of community is what we were made for, so maybe it’s worth the risk. What do you think?
PS – I know this post isn’t very “Halloween-y”, so I thought I’d share a couple of festive baby pictures.