2021 has been a challenging year for Claudia Schmidt, a mother and police detective who is adjusting to life without her husband while finding her feet as a newly-minted mother of three. She has found strength in receiving support from her network of friends.
She lives in Takapuna with her parents and sons Cooper (5), Braxton (3) and Oakley (9 weeks) and has been enjoying the quality family time that’s come with being on maternity leave through lockdown. As a parent, Claudia loves the joy that children bring. “I love how they can go from happily playing to having a tantrum to being back happy playing again within the space of a few minutes. We can learn something from children and how resilient they are.
“Kids make you appreciate the little stuff. Nothing else matters really,” she says.
Checking in sometimes all it takes
Claudia’s husband passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in April when she was 20 weeks pregnant with Oakley. “Life went out the window and caused a whole lot of new challenges for me,” she says. Luckily, Claudia has some amazing friends and family who have stepped up to become a complete village of support for her.
Her best friend of more than 20 years, Chontelle, took charge of coordinating people to support Claudia, organising a roster of people to help out with meals and to touch base with her. “Sometimes that’s all it takes, is for someone to check in,” says Claudia. “It’s amazing to know that there are people there because sometimes you can feel isolated as a new parent. With a lockdown on top of that, it’s pretty good when people check in to see how you are.”
Friends here to help
When Claudia feels overwhelmed, she reaches out to her friends by sending a text message or jumping on social media.
“I find posting little struggles about what’s going on at the time usually gets some feedback from people who I trust and love. It’s their words of support or encouragement that usually gets me through – then somebody will be asking for snacks or something so I’ll get distracted and life carries on.”
She’s learned to ask for help since her husband passed away “because I’ve had to. Previously I wouldn’t have.” As a mum herself, Chontelle knows the ups and downs of parenthood.
“It’s one of the hardest jobs in the world. On the days when things aren’t so good, sometimes all you need is an ear to listen.” She says she will do anything to help Claudia out. “Sometimes she just needs someone to give her a hug to tell her she’s doing a great job. Because she is and that’s all you really want as a mum, to know you’re doing a good job – and she’s doing amazing,” Chontelle says.
The pair’s close bond means they both feel comfortable to call on each other day or night. “I can pick up the phone or give Chontelle a text and she’s always there to receive whatever I need to say. Even if I don’t say anything, she’s always there at the end of the line,” says Claudia.
Chontelle’s advice to other friends and family of new parents is to be a helpful visitor. “When you pop over if you see the dishes need doing just do them without having to ask.”