It was 10:45 pm on a Thursday night. My husband was out of the country on business since Sunday. There were two days left in the fiscal year at work and I was slammed. The baby was teething. The toddler was being a contrarian about everything. I was exhausted. And I was lonely. Not just I-need-a-hug-from-my-husband-or-a-friend lonely. Lonely in a deep, deep place. I felt lost. Overwhelmed. Like no one understood me. No one knew what it was like to be me. In that moment. Drowning in a sea of responsibility and expectations.
I looked over at my nightstand to check the monitor to see if I finally won the battle of getting the toddler to bed and a book caught my eye. It was a novelty item I was gifted. A parody of a children’s classic. I had flipped through it once and set it down, not knowing whether it was something that should be placed on the bookshelf, re-gifted, or frankly, tossed in the trash. And an idea struck me.
It wasn’t the first time I felt like I was treading water trying to balance work and home life. Something that I have struggled with is the desire to “fix” it. I’m a problem solver by nature and this isn’t really a problem that can be solved. Time will bring a different season with my kids, a slower month at work, a reprieve from my husband’s travel schedule. But right then, in that moment, I couldn’t repair what felt broken. So I decided to try to pay it forward instead.
I grabbed a sharpie and opened the front cover. I titled it “Motherhood of the Traveling Book” after Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, a book I loved as a teenager (a movie I loved a little less) about a pair of jeans that somehow fits all four friends, despite their very different shapes and sizes, and gets passed around between them, serving as a comfort and a reminder that although distant in geography, their closest friends were right there with them. On the inside cover, I wrote a little blurb of support and asked a few close friends and family to add to the book as well. Then I mailed it off to a friend who I thought could use a little traveling book of mom support and love.
I could have written a novel about being a working mom, a parent who feels less “fulfilled” by parenting than I see others experiencing, struggling to figure out how to keep two tiny humans alive and thriving. But in the moment, I just wanted to share a brief word of support. I wrote what I really needed to hear that night.
Hi Mom! Just wanted you to know you’re doing great! Keep up the good work! It takes a village and we are here for you! With love, K from California
I added a hashtag (#travelingbook) in hopes that I might get to see this get around to other moms, near and far, who just need a lighthearted book filled with words of support from moms everywhere. If you’re inspired, grab a similar book from your home library and do the same. Just one rule: write whatever you would like (or would have liked) to hear at some point in your life as a mom. Maybe it’s those early days filled with chaos, exhaustion, pain. Maybe it’s getting through that first day of school. Leaving a job you loved to stay home with your precious babies. Or kissing your youngest goodbye as you send them off to college. We all have our good days and bad. But wouldn’t it be a little easier to get through the bad with a community of supportive moms?