2017 was truly a life-changing year for our family. In March, we moved halfway across the country from Chicago to Atlanta for my husband’s job. I’d never set foot in Georgia longer than a rest stop on a long drive to Florida, and not only did we make a huge move, I also transitioned from working full-time in technology sales to staying at home with my VERY active (and precocious) toddler. #sendwine
After unpacking and taking a deep breath, I fully realized that I needed to start my mama life all over again. My network was incredibly small here (I knew three other moms total when I moved here, better than zero!) and I felt so, so lonely. As someone who’d climbed the hill out of postpartum depression and anxiety, and was still fighting that battle touch-and-go, it was a hard first few months in a new place, trying to find out where to make new friends - both for myself and for my daughter - and getting comfortable with our surroundings.
Enter my wonderful friend Stephanie, and this FIT4MOM village. Stephanie was one of those three moms I knew here, and from the minute I arrived, she’d invited me to a Stroller Strides class. She’d recently become an instructor, and shared how it had really changed her journey in motherhood for the better. It took some time and prodding, as classes were north of Atlanta outside the perimeter and I wasn’t at all familiar with the area - we’d landed in Buckhead close to my husband’s office, and OTP sounded like the wilderness. I was also training for a marathon, and thought I couldn’t fit in a cross-training workout with my running regimen (one of the lies you tell yourself when you’re pooped from those long runs - “there’s no time for cross-training”). As fall started to approach, she told me, “you NEED to get to a class, Cassie. It’s a blast, and you’d fit right in with our village. We’re having a free meet-and-greet, just do it!”
I arrived to class with seconds to spare until start time, in shambles. My toddler had just potty trained and was crowing to me that she had to go. Now, we’re late. To our first class. That my friend personally invited me to. I scrambled up to the huddle of other moms and strollers, already sweating from the hustle from my car. Sylvia and the team greeted me excitedly, asked me about myself and my daughter, and prompted me with an icebreaker question to get me laughing. They did this with every mom in the group, new and returning - they were so HAPPY to be there! Their energy was contagious, and after showing up completely haggard from my start to the morning, it was refreshing. The workout was fun, and mamas and babies were laughing and singing from start to finish. Where had I been transported to, what planet was this? My solo long runs since the move were boring, a struggle, and just so lonely. I was having so much fun with these fellow fit mamas and their little ones. By the end of the hour, I knew I’d found my people. Funny how that happens when you’re grunting out that last burpee, or singing Five Little Monkeys in unison at the top of your lungs.
Fast forward 3 short months, and I’ve just completed the process to become a Stroller Strides instructor myself. This village has quickly become family, and I treasure all of the friendships I’ve made - and to think it all started just by showing up to a free class. The Jacksons have started to plant our southern roots, and we credit our FIT4MOM village in part for making our family’s first year in Atlanta as successful as it’s been.