The Atlanta Postpartum Group has been meeting since August 2008. The group, which began as a bi-weekly gathering in Midtown, and is now a monthly group in Buckhead, has been my labor of love, as much, if not more, than this blog. According to meetup.com, we've met 58 times in those 4+ years. I've only missed 4 meetings of the 58. Once for illness and three times for "maternity leave". Interestingly, when I needed it most- first after L1 and then in those rocky first days after L2, I didn't participate. I mean, of course I wish there had been an active support group in 2007 when I was in the depths of hell. But, the three months I took "off" after L2 were glorious in most ways, and what happened after has been even more glorious.
You see, while I was gone, a local therapist and Survivor Mama facilitated the group as a peer. I couldn't have asked for a better "substitute". And during that time, I was able to completely clear my calendar. Blank, even of the one thing that buoys me more than any other. I allowed myself to have a break from every. single. thing. Except my faith, health, and my baby. And it was wonderful. And then I came back renewed and relaxed. Offering hope and a story of overcoming an obstacle I truly believed was too great to face.
So, as I reflect on these years, particularly this past year when I moved past definitional postpartum and into motherhood both of a toddler and "big boy", I am awed and renewed, as well as overwhelmed.
As we end each of the postpartum support group meetings, we share goals with one another. These goals are of the "no-pressure" variety and one needn't state them aloud or report results the following month. These goals are to remind us, as the last thing we discuss at our meetings, that self-care is THE best way to care for our loved ones. The only rules of the goals are that they are easily attainable, tangible, and focused only on our own wellness. Often these goals have helped to be the tipping point for calling a therapist, taking that first SSRI in the bottle that's been sitting unopened for weeks, or staying alone with the baby. They are individual and unique, just as the women who share them. And each as every bit as important as the other.
Goals allow us to focus our minds, bodies, and souls on what we desire our future to look like. As we prepare for 2013, may our thoughts and goals be focused on peace and simple joys.