I Am So Thankful for My Village: Chattanooga


I Am So Thankful for My Village: ChattanoogaI hate to say it, but the first few years of motherhood for me were tough, to the point of being downright horrible. It had nothing to do with my wonderful, beautiful daughter — other than her inability to sleep a night through — and had everything to do with how alone I was.

We’ve all heard it at some point: “It takes a village,” and I’d go as far to say every parent knows the visceral truth behind this statement. But what happens when you lose that village for one reason or another? Let me share:

How I lost my village!

My missing family: My husband is a wonderful supporting presence, but he works in the entertainment industry and travels with bands for most of the year. I’d moved to Nashville to be with Andrew and most of my family and friends were left behind in Chattanooga or farther. When we started dating, his traveling was difficult to handle; however, when we got married and welcomed our bundle of joy a few months afterward, it became almost impossibly isolating. I spent most of those first two years as a mother feeling abandoned. (I was not, but it is how I felt.)

Mama spiral: As the sole caregiver 90% of the time, I spiraled into depression. This was exacerbated by the complexity of my emotions at the time: blissful thankfulness for my healthy daughter, anxiety-driven terror over making mistakes with her, and exhaustion from the fact she breastfed constantly and never slept an entire night through. (Sleeping through the night didn’t come until she was nearly three years old.)

When I got sick, I’d curl up on the couch and attempt to parent, observing my infant/toddler and praying she didn’t try too hard to kill herself while my fever raged.

Mind games: I’d agonize over nearly every decision. For example: Which do I put in the car first? Groceries or child. This might sound silly, but mothers hear and fear stories about cars getting stolen with children in them. I always tried to park right next to a cart return area to help mitigate the issue.

Fighting to belong: I attempted to make friends, but every time I tried to approach another mother, I felt awkward and weird. I would usually decide there was no way they would want to be friends with me. Why would they? I didn’t want to be friends with me.

Fighting to wake up: To shake myself out of the emotions, we ended up doing crazy things like moving four times in three years to find a good fit, a new village. We had some success in Nashville, but in the end, circumstances led us back to Chattanooga and our true home.

Chattanooga’s my village, now and forever.

I can’t express in words just how different Chattanooga is. It may be the mountains, the river, the unique history of downtown, the job market, the churches, or the ghost walks. We aren’t just a collection of various districts that don’t interconnect. We aren’t a bunch of random strangers thrown together on city streets. In fact, you can hardly walk a block without seeing someone you know.

We are one city with a solid identity. I feel strongly that Chattanooga is an actual village. Whether you are young, old, single, married, mother, father, aunt, uncle, gamer, worker, athlete, or any mix in between there are events, activities, groups, and support for us all.

So, if you are struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out, to talk about it. Let others know. Don’t be afraid to try new things. No one can, nor should they, parent alone. In the end, it does take a village, so don’t hesitate to find and hold onto yours.

This is my hope,

This is my prayer,

Thank you for my village and my many blessings.