Why We Have The Willow Tree Family Center

15 Mar 2013

My dad came to my house to watch my kids this morning.  They’re 2 ½ and 11 months.  When I walked out the door at 7:00 AM, I felt free.  It was an easy morning and a stress-free start to my day.  Usually leaving the house goes something like this:

Despite my attempts to start getting ready to leave at 6:45, suddenly…“It’s 7:00!!  We got to go!  Mommy still needs to dry her hair!”

I run the hair dryer just long enough to get the dampness out but never long enough to prevent that darn wave from forming all while pulling board books off the shelf with my toes to keep my baby entertained.

I turn off the hair dryer and yell to my toddler, “Hey!! You were supposed to get your jacket on! Quick!” to which she squeals with delight and runs off with my iPhone to watch Daniel Tiger under the blanket on the couch (as if I don’t know she’s there).  I put the baby down and attempt to appease her with a mum mum while I make the first run out to the car with two day care bags, my school bag, my lunch bag, my pump, my toast, and my tea. I come in and throw my toddler’s coat on her then practically have to hold my baby down while I strap her in the car seat.  She HATES that thing!  I carry them both out, click the baby seat in, then buckle my toddler into her own car seat.  I don’t pull out of my driveway until 7:15.  At 7:38, it’s practically a drive by, tossing the kids and bags into daycare, kissing them quick, then off to school.  I pull into the parking lot at 7:49, try to make it into my room by 7:51 and the kindergartners are walking in at 7:53.

This morning, however, it was 7:00 when I kissed the kids goodbye. They were still in their jammies snuggling with grandpa who was about to cook up some eggs. I walked out with my bag, evading the multiple trips to my car, and was pulling out of my driveway at 7:05.  I arrived at school at 7:30 and had no idea what to do with this extra 20 minutes.  Before kids, this was my normal arrival time.  And I thought I was busy then!  What did I do with all that extra time?

It seems like I cannot even remember that time before my initiation into this private club called parenthood.  Maybe you remember when you first entered the club.  Maybe you haven’t made it in quite yet, but you’re on the waiting list, your belly is growing, and you’re anxiously waiting for this hazing period to pass so that you can officially be one of the members.  No matter how many movies or sitcoms or dramas or books or blogs bare the name, Parenthood is really like a big cosmic secret that no one ever lets you in on until you’re one of them. (See What to Really Expect When You’re Expecting: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rachel-hollis/advice-for-new-moms_b_2536782.html)

Before you enter the rankings, you already wear many hats.  You are a professional in whatever job you have passionately pursued.  You serve on committees and maybe in your church.  You may play sports or instruments or do art.  You volunteer.  You are a friend, a shoulder to cry on, a confidant.  You are someone’s daughter and maybe sister, aunt, or cousin.  You are busy.  But when you enter parenthood, these job titles grow exponentially.  You become an alarm clock, cook, maid, waitress, teacher, nurse, referee, handyman, security officer, photographer, counselor, chauffeur, event planner, hairdresser, personal assistant, and ATM.  You knew that motherhood would change your life, but you didn’t realize how substantially. 

There is this impression that motherhood is blissful, it all goes by so fast, and you will simply fall in love and live happily ever after. (See Don’t carpe diem! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glennon-melton/dont-carpe-diem_b_1206346.html) In reality, whatever stage we are currently in engulfs us.  It floods our thoughts, actions, and focus.  The seemingly simple debate over whether or not to give my child a pacifier took DAYS of research (then weeding through all the BS information out there to determine what is real) and weighing the pros and cons.  Now, 2 years later, I’m reversing that same decision and overwhelmed with advice on how to break her habit.  And no matter what decision we make or how well we wear all our hats, we are constantly battling the mommy guilt demon. 

It was my dad that made this morning go so much easier for me.  And this is how it usually goes… When I feel crazy, stretched to the point of breaking, it is my co-workers, my friends, my sister, my family that helps me through.  It is only in finding community and support that brings peace and confidence as we each navigate our individual experiences through parenthood. 

This is why, despite all the busyness we already experience, we six women have committed to starting the Willow Tree Family Center.  We are doctor, teacher, small-business owner; we are natural-minded and medically traditional, we are stay-at-home and working mom, we are disposable and cloth diaperers, we are new moms, experienced moms, grandmoms, and moms-to-be.  And it does not matter who you are (See:  I Don’t Care How You Give Birth: http://www.improvingbirth.org/2012/12/i-dont-care-how-you-give-birth-2/); it only matters that we are all sharing this experience.  We are all part of this club called parenthood.

If you read our mission, vision, and values, you will see that we are committed to providing a space for families to gather and caregivers to provide consultations, services, and classes.  We are committed to employing the strengths and talents that exist within our community to serve each other. We are committed to providing evidence-based resources and information to help you as parents wade through the many decisions you will be faced with as your family grows.  We are committed to providing support groups to ease the stress of wearing the many hats that come with being the best parent we can be. 

And overarching all this, we value community.  We believe in supporting each other.  We believe in treating each other with honesty and integrity.  We believe in listening with open hearts and non-judgmental ears and looking at one another with empathetic eyes. We hold each other up, so that we will have a strong community of like-minded families, who can grow, learn and flourish together. 

Our presence is here to help ease your experience through parenthood by helping your family develop peace and confidence through providing reliable resources and continued support, much in the same way my dad’s presence eased my morning but in a far greater magnitude. 

Welcome to the club.