No Parenting Book Prepares You for This

baby hiding faceThere are plenty of parenting books out there that claim to prepare you for having a baby. To be fair, some do help. I learned what to pack in my hospital bag, what to ask my doctor, and why I was a disturbing mess of tears and fears for nine-plus months.

But no parenting book out there prepares you for what it’s like being a new mother in a small town.

In a word?

It’s lonely.

True, there are good reasons to raise a kid in the country, thousands of them. But all that comes later.

It’s the first few months, the first year even, that may be the hardest in any parent’s life, and out here in the country, they are particularly tough.

Let’s just start with the resources, shall we? Or lack thereof? Every health organization out there will tell you that the best start to an infant’s life comes from a breastfeeding mother. But when I gave birth nearly nine years ago (can it be?), I looked for breastfeeding resources out here in the sticks and came up with a big, fat 0.

No La Leche League.

No lactation consultants.

Nobody to help a confused and scared young mother give her baby girl the “best.”

But that was nine years ago; surely things have gotten better? Tell that to the local mom who put out an urgent query on Facebook last summer, desperate for some breastfeeding guidance. Tell it to the mom of a 15-month-old I ran into a few weeks ago, who related a similar tale of woe. Nine years on, I’m betting the solitude hasn’t changed much either. The law of percentages dictates that you’re less likely to have another mom in the same boat living nearby in a small town. Our population is simply smaller.

Which means what, exactly? A sense of unmooring. A difficulty finding the new you in this new world.

Making another mom friend isn’t as simple as going to a park and setting yourself up on a bench and waiting. You could wait all day and not see another soul.

Not to mention you likely have to drive to said park because that’s what people do in the country.

Driving with an infant. Is there anything more terrifying than those early drives with a newborn, wishing you had a tank instead of a sedan, white knuckling the steering wheel and stomping on the brakes each time a car comes within even 1,000 feet of you?

It’s been years, but it may as well have been yesterday. I can still feel the terror coursing through my veins.

Is it any wonder studies have found that women with less connection to larger urban centers were at greater risk of postpartum depression than women in areas with greater connection?

This is the cross we bear in the country. Our children may be our greatest asset, but our mothers are given only so much to work with as they try to start them off in life.

We are doing a good job of giving our kids fresh air to breathe and fresh water to drink, of giving them safe fields to roam in and outdoor adventures limited only by the breadth of their imagination.

But is that really enough? Or should we be doing more?


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