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Support network integral part of parenthood
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Raising a baby is tough. I doubt that comes as a surprise to the hardworking parents out there. What many people fail to realize is that having a baby is even harder when new parents have no support network.

My husband and I are learning this firsthand, and — trust me — it’s no fun. My family is in Missouri. My husband, who also is a journalist, is from Tallahassee, and his family still lives there. We’ve lived in Coastal Georgia for nine years, but due to the transient nature of the journalism industry, any friends we’ve made through work have come and gone. It doesn’t help that I’m a workaholic who, until we welcomed our daughter in April, spent long hours, nights and weekends barricaded in my office instead of trying to meet new people and cultivate friendships. Now, it seems, I’m paying the price.

We don’t need a babysitter very often, but when we do, it seems there are none to be found. I’ve noticed everyone loves to promise free babysitting services to an expectant mom, but once the baby arrives and the new mom tries to take advantage of those offers, they no longer stand. If it weren’t for a couple of amazingly helpful colleagues who’ve watched my daughter on occasion, I’d have really been between a rock and a hard spot. And, boy, am I grateful to those colleagues!

But the lack of a support network for a new parent doesn’t just mean scrambling for a sitter. It also means having no one to turn to for emotional support. More times than I can count, I’ve longed for a close female friend or relative with children — someone who can relate to my trials and tribulations, someone to share stories and compare notes with, someone who — like me — isn’t a perfect parent but is trying her darnedest to raise her child right and be the best mom she can be. I find that being a mother certainly is fulfilling, but an occasional girls’ night out sure would go a long way toward preserving my sanity.

To those parents who are fortunate enough to have a solid support network in place — whether it’s family, friends or a combination of the two — consider yourselves very lucky. Also, would you maybe think about lending me a babysitter on occasion?

Hollie Moore Barnidge is the managing editor of the Coastal Courier in Hinesville.

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