This post is going to cause some of you to smile with knowing gratitude and others of you to perhaps become a bit cynical and even others of you to feel that punch to your stomach.
"Why?" you ask.
Because this morning, we're going to talk about not going through this momhood journey alone.
Sucking it up.
Pushing it down.
Doing all the things by your lonesome.
Believe it or not, women are more likely now to become moms than they were a decade ago. It went from 80% in 2006 to 86% in 2016 and the numbers seem to keep climbing bit by bit.
But with all the moms in the world (almost 9 out of 10 women we meet on any given day), so many of us are white-knuckling it through this parenting gig by ourselves.
There are tons of reason we do this, but I want to call out just a few that I struggled with as my own journey has marched on (and on and then some).
Fear of Judgment
This is a big one. Bearing little people who become big people who we can't control and who can tarnish our reputation in a heartbeat is rough. We've been able to keep things under wraps our whole lives, only revealing to others what we want about ourselves, and then we find ourselves in the grocery store with an screaming, flailing toddler, or we find our 18 year old's name in the local newspaper because he or she just ramrodded an elderly neighbor with their car. It makes us want to curl up on our couch and protect our hearts.
Fear of Rejection
Perhaps you have mustered up the gumption to reach out and be vulnerable with another mom and they've stopped texting you, or sometimes, even worse, they've criticized your parenting technique or given you unsolicited advice that caused you to look in the mirror as you were brushing your teeth for bed and tell yourself you are a bad mom. One is rejection from others. One is rejection from ourselves. Neither is ever supposed to happen.
Fear of Overwhelm
Sometimes it's hard enough to deal with the voices of social media and authors and even people like me that pop into your inbox when it comes to parenting, much less actually open ourselves up to other people. Perhaps we are a natural introvert and it's all too much and it feels much easier to only have ourselves to deal with. Perhaps all the differing voices just cause confusion and you don't know what to do next in whatever crazy decision is in front of you about rearing and relationships with your kids. That makes so much sense.
BUT. BUT. BUT.
We all know that connection is key to make it through anything, to thrive in this life and to learn how to love well.
I have found just a couple of things on this gig that have helped me keep my wits about me and fight the monster of loneliness when it comes to momming.
Through all my years of parenting, I sought out people who were one, two, five, 20 steps ahead of me. It did three things: they had been there and done that and had wisdom I would never possess in the moment. I found them to be much less judgmental. My kids weren't their kids' friends and I could maintain some kind of privacy about it all. (one small caveat: it helped if they were not related to me).
Being the Friend I Needed (and Wanted)
I wanted connection, vulnerability, safety and grace. I needed them. So I worked hard to be a mom with those four things with play group moms, bus stop moms, moms on the sidelines, and even moms in my college Facebook group. In order to respect my kids' privacy, I spoke about my own struggles and emotions while perhaps keeping all the details out of a given situation. You see that in my writing as well. (one small caveat: I do ask my kids' permission - especially as they are now older - to share all the gory details with at least one or two very safe people - I have to have that).
Staying Open to Unlikely People in Unlikely Places
My very best mom friends have come as surprises. Once I let go of having to fit in with the soccer team moms or the PTA moms or the church moms and allowed people to come from who-knows-where, it opened up such huge relationships for me. One of my very best friends in the world came as a result of working in our church nursery when I wasn't even looking for someone.
One final note today because this is a lot:
Remember that there are moms out there who need what you have to give. They need you.
Maybe they are younger than you and need your wisdom and gentle, non-judgmental understanding.
Maybe they feel like they are the only one in the world going through something and you are just what the doctor ordered because you are struggling with the same exact thing.
Maybe they will be some stranger on the internet that lives 2,532 miles away from you, but you can send them an email or a DM reaching out because what they said made you feel like you were part of the beautiful mom collective.
Maybe you will be one of their most unlikely surprises.
From my.heart to yours. P.S. You know that I am just a DM/email away. This is the big reason I do any of this. To make sure you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are not alone. And I'm hear to listen and learn.