don’t give up on community

Dear behind-the-scenes mom,

Isn’t it easy to feel invisible in this role? Somehow we fade away behind the laundry, cute babies and even small talk, not to mention the tightly constructed guard we put up to protect ourselves from being seen with critical eyes.

There are so many ways to feel unseen, unheard and disconnected in our daily lives as moms.

We work hard for successes that go unnoticed, little victories in the mundane (like being caught up on laundry for 15 minutes).

We deal with struggles on our own – like kids (ha!) and dizzying busyness, not to mention medical and relationship challenges.

As a mom, it’s gravity for us to go unnoticed – our gig is putting others first, it’s not about us; theoretically that’s a good thing, right? 

But if there’s one thing I have learned in my journey through motherhood, it’s this: we need to be seen and cared about as much as we need to see and care about others, even beyond our home base.

No mom is an island.

I don’t think we need to blog or tell our life stories to strangers unless we want to. I’m also not saying we need to post every detail of our lives on Facebook unless we want to. But I do think we need to open up, somewhere somehow, just a little bit more than we are now. We need to  tell a friend how we’re really doing, instead of answering with a default “great” or “complaint.” We need to share more than what people are expecting to hear. 

We need to be able to admit we are ecstatic with joy even though someone might lash out in jealousy. We need to be able to say we’re struggling, even though someone may blame us for our the problem we’re working so hard to solve. We need to be real and authentic and whole and honest, even though we’ve been burned a thousand times for being just that; even though we’ll probably get burned again at some point.

Sure we need to learn boundaries and who to trust, but we have to keep opening up to someone, somewhere! We can’t give up. We need to believe that our real self can really be appreciated by more than just our husbands and kids, and that our family can be cared for by a larger community. We need to believe it until we actually experience it because community is important, true friends are important, shared experiences are important, and we need all of those things in our lives as women, we just do.

Everybody knows it takes a village to raise a child, but not everyone knows how to create one; I sure didn’t.

Every time I started to build one, it disintegrated before my eyes. Friends moved away, others changed; I changed. I’m shy and introverted to the max. I struggled to come to terms with some difficulties from my past and discovered it can be extremely painful to talk about those things with others who have not been through similar situations.

I followed a calling and disappointed people along the way. I struggled to let go of the people pleaser persona I had so strongly identified with. As a family, we moved around a lot. I noticed it takes time to build relationships, and starting over is emotionally draining.

I’m a deep thinker and a terrible small talker. I didn’t want to live on the surface of life, but I refused to get lost in the depths; I rarely felt like I fit in. Plus I was flat-out busy with the kids.

This community build-a-tribe sisterhood-of-mothers thing has not come easy to me, at all. Though I had good people in my life, we never gelled into each others day to day lives the way I wanted.

But I did one thing right: I kept trying.

We are unique individuals.

I went to mom’s groups, retreats and learning opportunities to meet like minded people – I continually pushed past my comfort zone to reach out to others even though it never seemed to pan out the way I’d hoped and never seemed to get much easier.

I kept following my heart and mothering (that took a lot of time). I worked on forgiving, letting go, being more understanding and authentic and and learning to love and accept myself for who I am (that was hard). I stayed open to dreams and possibilities. I developed a deep inner life and spirituality. Life was good in many ways; I just didn’t have that sense of being part of something bigger than myself that I had always pictured for my family.

It’s funny how now, after all these years, everything my idealistic naïve younger self expected and was so disappointed not to find all around me is appearing out of nowhere…

I’ve gone from being the only person I knew who was interested in writing to being part of this amazing moms blog community, along with other writer’s groups and training programs.

I’ve gone from feeling alone in my deep calling toward learning about spirituality to being surrounded by people of faith, who inspire me beyond what I could have ever hoped. I could go on about my husband’s awesome Christian band he’s joined in the last year or the families we adore –  we’re utterly surrounded and lifted up by our community in more ways than I can begin to describe.

As good as it is, I’ve struggled to trust it – actually, really struggled to trust it – but I keep pinching myself to realize how real and strong and true and amazing this community that is surrounding my family, supporting our dreams, journeying with us through sorrows and bringing so much joy and companionship into every aspect of our lives, it feels like an extension of my family that I trust with all my heart to be there for us, for the long haul – it’s simply awesome.

Life is mysterious. I don’t know why things that come easy for some are harder for others. If you are like me and struggle to build a sense of community, I encourage you to keep trying and really self reflect. Are there are parts of you that have given up hope or settled for hurtful relationships because you don’t believe you can find any better? Do you want more? Are you starting to get cynical from discouraging experiences with others? Is it possible to reach out for something better? Can you believe there is more support out there for your family, as you continue to journey through motherhood?

youdeservetoo

Please, please, please, if you feel invisible right now, keep your chin up, don’t lose hope and stay open to possibilities. You deserve every ounce of support you desire, along with people who appreciate all you have to offer. There is a community of people out there, who will value you as much as you value them, and I promise you will find each other if you keep looking.

Sincerely,

A former invisible mom

Where are you at in your journey to build a village? Do you feel seen and heard and appreciated for who you are deep down? Do you have any tips for moms in the trenches who are feeling invisible?

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13 Responses to don’t give up on community

  1. laura
    laura May 19, 2015 at 7:06 am #

    Love this, so right there and its frustrating but I also won’t quit trying either!

    • Nicky May 19, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

      I consider you part of my tribe for sure, Laura! Nonetheless busy-ness gets in the way!! It’s a continual challenge, isn’t it?

  2. Kim May 19, 2015 at 8:42 am #

    Nicky – this is beautiful. Sometimes, finding your “tribe” is so much work and feels like it’s not worth the hassle. But I love that you are reminding us all to “keep trying” and “keep going.” That’s really an important lesson, not only in motherhood or finding a community – but also in life. Keep on keeping on!

    • Nicky May 19, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

      Thanks for reading, I agree-it’s life, isn’t it? So challenging yet rewarding g if we persevere☺️

  3. Lynn May 19, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

    Love this post!! What a great reminder to all those moms who do not feel like they “belong”….. yet.

    • Nicky May 19, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

      Thanks for reading lynn I hope it lifts someone’s spirits:)

  4. Erin May 19, 2015 at 8:39 pm #

    Great post, Nicky!! Thank you SO MUCH for the encouragement in these words. Reading this, I may or may not have cried. I am *there* and struggling big time with this right now. New place, new faces, none of them familiar. I’m just like you – quiet and not sure how to start down the path of connections/deeper relationships. Thank you for the reminder to keep trying and keep looking forward. I really needed to hear that right now. 🙂

    • Nicky May 20, 2015 at 9:23 am #

      Ugh! I wish you lived closer so we could see more of each other, it’s so hard! Especially after moving! I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers!!

  5. Angie May 20, 2015 at 8:36 am #

    Thank you for this, Nicky! I’m one of those shy, quiet people and no matter what I do, I struggle to find that community. It’s so hard. And then when I do find someone I feel like I connect with, they move away. Or, most recently, they changed and became so hurtful that I can’t be around them anymore. Sometimes it’s really really hard to keep putting yourself out there and trying.

    • Nicky May 20, 2015 at 9:27 am #

      I feel your pain, it’s so hard when you’re going through it, I hope and pray you find your peops soon, and when you do, you’ll look back and realize how those hard years made you the strong woman you are destined to be and incredibly appreciative! Hang in there!!

  6. Jessica Maurer May 28, 2015 at 7:48 pm #

    Love this! Exactly why I’m so so happy I found my MOPS group!!

    • Nicky May 29, 2015 at 8:57 am #

      Thanks for reading, Jessica – MOPS is so great, my church has a similar moms morning program, and I love it:) Moms soooo need to connect with each other:)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 5 ways to nurture friendships | Quad City Moms Blog - July 9, 2015

    […] For more on the topic of friendships, check out Nicky’s wonderful post about developing a community for “invisible moms” and Michelle’s great post about the importance of mom play […]

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