Last night was the return of Craft Night at BabyLove. It was wonderful. If you saw it and thought, “That would be fun,” you were right. But one mama, Mari Koeck, attended the most recent craft night and sent along these really amazing thoughts. Enjoy!
Some days as a mom I feel like Mother Theresa. Other days I feel like Cinderella’s wicked stepmother. Today was not a good day. The kids were communicating solely in unintelligible alien shrieks, everything was escalating, and I was not coping well. I could feel my stress level rise, but I was not Mother Theresa. I am thankful I held it together enough to avoid creating headlines, but, barely.
A couple of years ago I watched a National Geographic documentary about stress. The gist of it was that the chemicals released for our “fight or flight” response to problems need to be burned off or they start attacking our cells, causing them to age more quickly, subtly attacking and killing part of our physical body. Thank God the documentary didn’t end there. Can you imagine the tailspin of depression and unbearable stress that would send any viewer into?
They went on to talk about how researchers studied a group of people who suffer from prolonged, chronic stress. They chose parents of children with special needs and they were surprised by what they saw. Yes, chronic stress was every bit as serious as they knew, but they observed something new. Many of the mothers in their study were part of mom groups with other moms raising children with special needs. The mothers who attended these groups had lower stress levels than those who didn’t, but researchers were shocked to discover that the physical damage to cells caused by stress wasn’t simply limited by their relational connection, it was reversed.
After my painfully un-Hallmark worthy day, I was at the end of my rope. It was as if I couldn’t just feel the stress physically killing my cells, but I could feel it killing the deepest part of me that makes me know I’m alive. But tonight wasn’t just any night, it was BabyLove’s Craft Night. It is a simple concept, any kind of moms can come together and…craft. While there’s something deeply satisfying about creating something with your hands, it was the relational aspect of simply chatting with other moms that was better than any medicine or therapy for me today. There wasn’t any program or attempt to make it into “something.” It just was what it was, simple, but profound. It was meeting my real need at the end of a stressful day for some mom relationships to undue the harm that stress was trying to do to me.
When I first came to BabyLove, I thought I was bringing my son to Mama Cafe to hang with other babies. The reason I kept coming was because of the way just being together with other mamas from all backgrounds nurtured the best parts of me. When I was in such a positive place, not only did I never once get a whiff of the “mommy wars,” but I felt deeply loved and I wanted to love those around me. I was renewed and energized by these meetings and I need to remember that it isn’t just in my head, but there is a physical need for this kind of relationship as well.
If you’re a bit of a worrier – like me – and are still hung up on the fact that stress is killing you, then you need to: 1) Watch this TED video “How to make stress your friend” by Kelly McGonigal (Available here) and 2) Do something about it by finding other moms to connect with whether in your neighborhood, your church, your child’s school, or BabyLove. It takes a bit of extra effort, but it is an investment in not just reducing stress and improving your health, it is ensuring more Mother Theresa moments for you and your kids, and we all need more of those.
Mari is a mother of two and head writer for Koeck Communications, LLC