As the sun sets, you prepare for night feedings. As you pass the toy aisle, you prepare for the tantrum. As you make your coffee, you expect it to be cold by the time you finish.
Motherhood (primary caregiver-hood) can be an exhausting endeavor. However, the greatest “thief”, is often isolation. There is a growing struggle to connect. When screened in porches and sunrooms began to let in light while keeping out our neighbors, something was lost. Rarely do people sit in a way that invites spontaneous conversation. The village is now inaccessible. The village can now be shaming. The village is a scary place.
The vulnerability that is required to parent with others, often keeps us alone. In the hot days of summer, it becomes more difficult to spend time where others congregate. In the south, going to the park almost seems like an invitation for heat stroke! It can become so easy and so harmful to hole-up in the air conditioned house and parent alone.
Friendships in motherhood look very different than ever before. There is often the obstacle of crying (when they are infants), tantrums (when they are toddlers), extracurricular activities (when they are school aged), etc. Reasons will always exist to excuse us from breaking our isolation.
Where to go from here?
Here are four important things to remember when attempting to embrace the idea of community.
LIFE. IS. INSANE. Busyness happens and when you look up from the day, you realize a month has gone by without speaking to your best friend. Set some kind of reminder to send a text or make a phone call to check-in and engage with someone. It can mean having alarms on various days with someone’s name attached. It can mean sticky notes on your mirror or in the car. It can even mean scheduling a FaceTime date monthly. Time will not magically appear for friendships, you must make time.
When someone you trust asks how life is going? Do not- DO NOT- say “fine”. Is life ever really fine? If you are not struggling with lack of sleep or lack of time for yourself or budgeting or grocery shopping or the Everest that is laundry, you are worrying about your kids. There is always something on your mind. Always something you can gain another’s perspective on, or experience solidarity in the struggle.
Be the type of friend you need. Mom-shaming is one of the most damaging, soul-crushing, frustrating trends in our culture. This can come in the form of out-right guilting, advice giving or even dismissal of someone else’s experience. There’s a great tool that you can use when someone is sharing their struggle. Ask what they need. “Do you want advice or do you want me to listen?” Often, if we model the type of friend we need, others reciprocate.
Make the first move, even if it is outside your comfort zone. Ask for the playdate with moms you know or engage in conversation with the other parent in the play place. Concern for our kids and having a similar passion in life, can be a connecting point. It is terrifying and rejection is real. Someone has to start the conversation. Why not be that person?
Do not let your days be filled with longing for community and support. You can be an active participant in fighting isolation and loneliness. It is not an easy process. Many of these ideas are easier said than done. That is ok. Please take the first step and find what you need. We must be an army of light against the darkness of isolation. It is a real enemy. Let us fight this together.
Fighting for you and with you,
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