Wise Women Walking—Community Counts When Returning to Work
By Rosalia Davi
They say it takes a village to raise a child—and I couldn’t agree more. But as technology brings the world within reach, I find my “village” has actually gotten quite small. I lost count of my ‘friends’ on Facebook, yet I can count on one hand the number of close friends I have nearby. Don’t get me wrong, social media can be a powerful support system – it was comforting to know during the earliest days (and hours) of motherhood, I had access to information and people 24/7. But when it was time for me to return to work, I needed real human interaction to help me overcome the guilt, anxiety and depression I felt at the time. Thankfully, I had built a strong community—a ‘work village’—literally one step at a time; and it made all the difference.
Just before I found out I was pregnant, I had invited several of my female coworkers to join me for a walk in a nearby park a couple of times a week. I’m not very athletic, so it was more of an opportunity to get some fresh air and vitamin D, while catching up on our busy lives. For two hours each week, our Wise Women Walking Club (#wisewomenwalking) allowed us to disconnect from our computers and re-connect face to face (or rather, side by side). It offered many benefits, including a greater sense of well-being and higher productivity. For me, knowing I had a group of women at work with whom I could brainstorm new ideas, discuss solutions to problems, and occasionally vent—gave me an incredible sense of belonging and community.
That’s why, when my maternity leave neared its end, it wasn’t the work itself that I thought about returning to—it was the people.
“When my maternity leave neared its end,
it wasn’t the work itself that I thought about
returning to—it was the people.”
Those relationships I cultivated before leaving eased my fears of returning to work, since I knew I didn’t have to go it alone. With approximately 1 million women suffering from post-partum anxiety and depression, knowing there is a supportive place or group of people to return can make or break a successful re-entry.
Even with a great group of colleagues to return to, I wasn’t able to think about work until I figured out the whole motherhood thing. I joined a new moms’ support group hosted by Postpartum Resource Center of New York, and was immediately welcomed by a community of smart, resourceful, and caring women who inspired me to get through some of the toughest moments of new motherhood. I found that forming an inner circle of support outside of work but also within, made the process of re-entry far less painful. Unfortunately, returning to work with a healed body and mind is a luxury for far too many women.
If you are in need of a supportive community, consider joining or starting a Mothers’ Center Group through Mom-mentum, or check your local church or community center. You can also begin by asking a coworker to go for a 15 minute walk a few times a week. What’s great about community is that when you start looking for one, you meet others who are searching for the same.
In a hyper-connected world that has made it difficult to really connect, creating your own village can help you thrive as a mother, co-worker, and community member.
Leave a Comment: Do you have a community of colleagues that helped to ease your return-to-work after maternity leave? In what ways did you build a supportive “village” after becoming a mother?
Rosalia Davi is a first time mom who also works at a private university in New York CIty. She is learning how to maximize peace of mind and productivity, and can be seen pondering the elusive work/life balance while commuting from Long Island, NY. Rosalia has a dual Master degree in Gender and Cultural Studies and Communications Management, and incorporates her passion for gender and all diversity throughout her career and personal life. She loves spending time with her family, reading, and building community both inside and outside of the workplace.