Every mom (and, even every woman, maybe) needs a village. A reeeeal village. A place where you can let down your hair and get comfortable. I have a village. I have a group of women who are supportive and honest and push me to be my best self and allow me to be my suckiest self. I have a group of friends who know my kids and who love them. Our kids are friends. They play together and they fight together.
We had Dane’s birthday party a few days ago and one of my friends showed up about 30 minutes late with her kids and with empty hands. She hugged me and said “Sorry! Didn’t have time to get him a gift! I even looked in my wallet and I didn’t have any cash. Catch ya next time!” And I could feel in that moment how lucky I was. This woman is a friend. A real friend. She loves me and I love her and it’s not about how it looks on the outside or what one of us might think because we always give each other the benefit of the doubt and we know we each have only the best intentions–there’s no muss and no fuss. It’s an anxiety free relationship. She is part of my village.
I am lucky enough to have friends who are completely themselves and who allow me to be completely myself. We get together and let our kids run around like animals. We laugh together with the pregnant one who has been a crazy wife for the past week. We cry together with the one who is frustrated with her husband’s lack of empathy. We talk together about how to handle the hard kid situations. We are lucky. We’re lucky because someway, somehow in this age of Pinterest and Facebook and mom wars we have created a little nest. A nest where everyone is safe. And no topic is off limits. And no one is judging you–ever.
Do you know how refreshing that is? There are some of us who have c-sections and some of us who birth with epidurals and some of us who birth naturally. There are some of us who work part time and some of us who stay home full time. Some of us breastfeed for a couple of years and some of us pop a bottle in our baby’s mouth as soon as the baby is born. We all have one thing in common though, one common denominator: we are all working to get closer to the Lord, to know Christ better, to live out our Catholic faith in this vocation of married life and motherhood.
And, that’s no accident. That’s why there is zero gossip going on within our group (no small feat for a group of women). That’s why we are free to show up in our yoga pants with a clean face or in a snazzy new outfit with makeup. That’s why we are free to say “I can’t come today because my life is in shambles and my kids are annoying.” We are free. And there is nothing between us but understanding, love and acceptance. And, it’s awesome. And, I’m not sure how I survived before them.
I searched for my village for some time and I found some village-ish places, but nothing like this. Now, I’ve got it, and now that I have it and I know how much of a difference this makes I know that YOU need a village, too. Trust me, you do.
You don’t need my village, you need your own. You need a group of women who allow you to cry when you need to cry and who rejoice with you when you are rejoicing. You need a friend who tears up with excitement and emotion when she talks about how far your son has come. You need a friend who randomly brings over a bag of clothes her kids have outgrown. You need a friend whose potty training kid pees on the carpet in your kids’ room and no one bats an eye or loses sleep about it. You need that. I don’t know how people do it without that.
Parenting (and especially mothering) is hard, you guys. So hard. And when you are stuck in the middle of the muck of babyland and feeling lonely you NEED a woman who has been there. You need someone who understands. You need someone to push you to be gentler with yourself. You need someone to shake you when your pity party is going on a little too long.
Do you know how you get these type of friends? You have to first be the right type of friend. You cannot attract your village while hosting tupperware parties and sipping tea and discussing fringe topics. You have to be willing to bare your soul a bit. You have to be willing to show the ugly, hard side of mothering. You have to say real things about parenting. You have to be honest. You have to be willing to let your real show and NOT be thought of as the world’s best mother.
So, next time you’re at the park and your kid is climbing up the slide (instead of going around): say nothing. Just sit there. Just sit there and chill because it’s a park and it’s going to be ok. And maybe, just maybe you’ll come off as super approachable (instead of the world’s best mother) and you’ll open the door for someone -someone who is looking for her village- to say hi. Or, better yet, go ahead and say hi first!
We are all in this together. All of us. We all get that loading everyone up in the car takes forever. We all know how scary the words “stomach virus” can be. We all get that some days we feel like terrible mothers ruining little children (and some magical days we feel like unicorns raising little saints). We all get it. We should be more willing to talk about it with one another. We just might find our village that way!