By Aimee Serafin • Photo Freddie Collins on Unsplash

The fall of 2002 is etched in my memory. I became a new mom on the hottest day of September at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore, MD that year. Even in the first few days after giving birth, the dramatic changes a baby made to my world were undeniable. As novice parents, my husband and I carried our son across the threshold of a two-bedroom, one-bath bungalow on Symington Avenue that was a little over a mile from the city limits. To say that the first week was life-altering is an understatement. I was arrested daily by the thought of how something so small could have such impacts on my personal life. It was a simultaneously incredible and terrifying time. One that required personal bravery.

Over the next couple of months, my ego softened at the same time the purple circles under my eyes deepened in hue. Over 600 miles from any family and in the dead of Maryland’s winter, I felt the need to rehearse daily that I was not alone. One afternoon a neighbor stopped by with a new-mom care package. Her basket contained homemade cookies, lavender lotion and some fashion magazines. Jenny lived across the street and had reared 2 rowdy, fun-loving and boisterous teens along with a younger brother who observed the world from his upside-down perch in trees. In afternoons when I cracked the front window, the outside carried with it the noise of activity and non-serious injury from her front yard.

While Jenny stood at my door– yelling homework reminders toward the chaos of zigzaggers in the street– I had a sense of relief in seeing someone who knew my exact stage of life. She had been where I was. More importantly, she survived. Also, I saw happiness and laughter spilling out from her three young sons. I was struck somewhere deep inside by a sense of belonging. I caught a glimpse of the larger community I had entered. It was as if the tent of my life enlarged to welcome a rich tapestry of women exploring brave new worlds: the worlds of motherhood. Hugging my neighbor on the front stoop of our small barn-red house, I pondered the community that had existed for centuries without me. It is a club whose membership is accessible in every season, yet I recently chose to join.

The first 10 months of motherhood were especially trying, scary and full of cautious contentment. As I struggled with the harsh reality of post-partum and unconvincing thoughts of my mothering, it was the sense of belonging that kept me anchored. Seasoned members of this new world perceived something about me that I was yet to discover. I received only glimpses of what they recognized, even as I stumbled awkwardly toward actualizing it. This sense, and the small gifts that showed up from friendly faces on warm afternoons, helped me grow more accustomed to the idea that I was going to make it. Nearly 18 years later, I now understand what they innately knew: I had what was needed all along.

To celebrate and encourage the young mothers in your familiar circles, here are some simple gift ideas and reasons to show up— on cloudy or sunny late afternoons— to the front steps of our newest members.

  • Pretty pajamas or comfy slippers
  • Food deliveries or restaurant gift cards
  • Collection of quick lunches or snacks
  • Fall-scented or relaxation candles
  • Amazon e-gift cards
  • Homemade cookies
  • First Christmas ornament
  • Organic lotions for baby and mom
  • An offer to clean or vacuum the house
  • Fashion headbands or wraps
  • On-the-go protein bars or healthy trail mixes
  • Notes of encouragement
  • Luxurious robe
  • Dry Shampoo
  • Ebook certificate
  • Stand magazines, or a magazine subscription
  • Bath bombs, soaks or scrubs

Aimee Serafin, editor of the Augusta Family Magazine.