I grew up very isolated. We lived on an acreage about 40 minutes outside of town, I was an only child, and I was home-schooled. When I did venture out into “the world” I was guarded and suspicious. I had experienced some deep hurts in my life and I was not going to let it happen again. What I didn’t realize is that if you are living defensively, there is always something you can find to defend yourself against. If you look for the negative, you WILL find it. However, I had to learn that if you look for the positive, you will also find it! The world can be viewed as a selfish, scary, hurtful place, but it can also be viewed as a hopeful, welcoming, and healing place. The world is BOTH. But I was only looking at it through one lens so that was the only way I was perceiving it.
I was living “safe”. No one would hurt me again because I wouldn’t let them. I was also living “empty”. Keeping the world at arm’s length is a very lonely way to go through life. The story of how I changed my world view is far too long to be blogged here, but I wanted to give some background because I know so many moms out there that are strong, and tough, and are doing it on their own, and taking pride in that fact. Guys, that was TOTALLY me. Sure I had coffee dates, and dropped off the odd casserole. I was a polite member of society but, “have a nice day and don’t mind me, I GOT THIS,” was my motto. What I didn’t know was that there is SO. MUCH. MORE. But you have to be brave. You have to risk being seen and showing up. Yes, people might hurt you again, but you’re smart! (No, really, you are). Surround yourself with people that mean well and have good hearts. People who are human and who will mess up, but who love you. Don’t surround yourself with unhealthy people and expect to thrive I guess is what I’m saying.
You don’t have to be so strong. I know it’s your badge of honour. I know it might even be your identity. But there is a better way – truly. This applies to all people in all stages of life, but especially to mothers of littles in that hard, thankless season. I found my village, and in doing so, I have never been more fulfilled. I had no idea what I was missing.
I have the friend that I text and say, “I had a hard appointment with Micah today,” and within seconds she’s calling me and encouraging me because she’s in a similar situation with her own child’s disabilities and figuring it all out. Honestly, we don’t see each other much and don’t even talk that much but we’re there to comfort and to celebrate as we parent our littles that struggle more than most.
I have the friend that I message and say, “I’m struggling with my self worth today.” I have the friend that I reach out to when I need someone I can trust to watch my kids for a bit. I have friends that I chat to daily and we compare cleaning charts and to-do lists. We keep each other company essentially! I have friends in all walks and stages of motherhood. I have a village. And honestly, it’s mostly a Facebook village, but we see each other when we can which isn’t terribly often in this stage of life.
Can you imagine for a second putting ALL of this on one person? Having just one person that you relied on for encouragement, advice, companionship, experience, babysitting, etc., etc.? 1. I hardly feel like that’s fair to put on a single individual (even if that individual is YOURSELF), and 2. You would be lost if anything ever happened to that relationship. There’s a reason the saying “it takes a VILLAGE” exists.
My mistake was expecting the village to come to me. Don’t get me wrong, I was reached out to, but you don’t get instant community like that. You have to be okay with being “weak”. You have to be okay with laying down your identity of the strong and capable mom who has “got this”. If you can do that, if you can put yourself out there and ask for help, (and don’t give up if it doesn’t work sometimes), you can slowly build your village.
Text someone and say, “Hey, I’m having a hard week. Can you give me some encouragement.” Be the one to drop off some cookies “just because”. You never know how much another mom might need it. Offer to babysit and ASK for babysitting. Be proactive. “Let me know if you need anything” is okay, but you can do better. Just guess! Guess what they might need and just do it. Even if they didn’t need any muffins that day, everyone needs to be thought of and loved on. Some of my good memories are when someone messages me and says, “Do you want some coffee?”. But some of my BEST memories are when a friend messages me and says, “I’m getting you coffee and will drop it at your door in 10 minutes. What kind do you want?”. Motherhood is messy and tiring. Friendships need to be a little less “polite and proper” in this season. Just get in there. Love on people just because. And ask for what you need because while I know you ARE that strong, and you CAN do it all, you don’t have to. Find your village, or if you need to, make one! I promise it’s worth the effort, and it’s worth being brave for. Momma, admitting you need (or even just WANT) help is the definition of being strong <3. You got this ;).