City Mama, County Mama: Welcome To The Motherhood, Baby! (Lonelle Selbo, Life Au Lait)
Well April has only just rolled into May and I’m already starting to feel worry pangs about summer being over. When you move to a place that people visit for sun and wine, your weekends get booked up fast with friends who want to ‘drop by’.
It’s awesome, of course, to live in paradise every day and still get to see the people you love, but it’s also a bit stressful to have the precious sunny season scheduled to the minute before it’s even begun. But spring is the catalyst for birth and rebirth, and I plan to enjoy the hell out of it, so along with a lot of cool things on my plate these days, I’m excited to announce that this is my first post for City Mama, County Mama, a new biweekly column I’ll be writing for Midtown Mommy Connections.
It seems so totally appropriate, as I start a brand new life in Prince Edward County, to share my experiences with the community that had a huge impact on me nearly three years ago, when I began my new life as a first time mom.
When I got to The County, I knew a handful of people. I’d met them a few years before when I was very pregnant and writing a story for a Toronto-based magazine—a travel piece highlighting the amazing wine, food, and coolness of PEC. The people I met here were brilliant: a winemaker, an innkeeper, a chef, and a handful of others who were all amazing, but none of them were first time parents with little kids. And as much as these guys helped us with the who’s who and what’s what of our new home, once we’d moved in and found a second to breathe, I realized that I had zero mommy networks.
A few hundred years ago when I was in university, I didn’t have TV for about a year. Quickly, I realized that the biggest problem with that was that without watching any commercials, I didn’t actually know what to buy when I went grocery shopping. I couldn’t tell what was “meant” for me. It was a weird and memorable thing, and when I moved here I realized I was having a similar experience. I’d been immersed in the Toronto mom groups for so long and relied on them for absolutely everything. In this new land I didn’t know where to get a baby thermometer to replace the one that was lost in the move. I didn’t know who to ask about swimming lessons or if there was a good park and a bad park in the same neighbourhood. Where would my toddler and I go in the mornings if we wanted to play with other kids? Where were the secret beaches, the farm fresh eggs, and micro-greens? And where, for the love of all things holy, could I buy, sell, and trade kids’ clothes and toys!?
I searched for local Facebook groups with every keyword I could imagine and nothing kid-related came up. So, I did what all resourceful moms do in the face of adversity: I started my own community. I obviously found a good niche, because within two days there were a few hundred parents (and some grandparents) in my little group and they were all excited to be there and share knowledge with each other. Quickly, I got answers to all of my burning questions, found out where the Ontario early years playgroups were, and what other classes were on the table. The moms (and dads) were awesome, friendly, funny, supportive, and smart. The kids were the products of these awesome parents and my kid was excited to see his friends every morning. For the second time since becoming a mom, I felt the isolation and anxiety run off me—I’d found my people again.
I remember sitting in my first Mommy Connections class at Gymboree, looking around at everyone’s face and wondering if they were going through anything like I was. Could that little girl with the flower headband sleep without being rocked all night in someone’s arms too? Did the mother with the wide eyes and freckles also feel totally out of control every time she left the house with her tantrum-prone, teething toddler? Were all of these women emotionally overwhelmed about how obsessively they loved their new little human? It was here, talking to these other moms, that I realized that we all have days where we can barely cope and days when our hearts explode with joy. The exact specifics of our situations may be different, but by loving and supporting the mama clan, we would always get love and support in return.
And now, with a whole new set of questions, doubts and joys, I know that there’s at least one universal truth: Whether you live in the heart of the 6ix with your little babe or on a pretty little island two-or-so hours east of it—there’s always a group of moms in your corner.
From the green belts of Midtown Toronto to the endless pastures and lakes of Prince Edward County, fashion magazine editor Lonelle Selbo, lives, eats, sleeps, and breathes all things mommy—from cool toys to DIY home décor, pretty things to hip places, where-to-eat to how-to-grow, and mom style to toddler chic. Every month, she’ll bring a little County to Midtown Mommies.