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.
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.
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?
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.
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?