The Gift of Community

January 2021 | by anna rogers

Motherhood can be lonely, even though moms are almost never alone.  

The support of encouraging mom friends is a saving grace when a tiny human is relying on mom to sustain life itself. The days often feel long, tedious, and repetitive, and despite the extreme and indescribable joy that comes with those tiresome days, it's still easy for mothers to feel isolated and forlorn. 

In a world that promotes self-care and the power of "you," motherhood beckons for a different kind of balm. When "pulling yourself up by the bootstraps" to change that diaper or soothe that cry for the seemingly millionth time weighs heavily, the camaraderie of other moms is the perfect medicine to make it through the hard days. 

Perspective 

As a mom, I've been there – to the place of lost perspective. A missed nap or a blowout or a tough feeding feels like the end of the world. Making it to an appointment or the grocery store seems an insurmountable task. Mothers are all too familiar with scenarios that stretch to days and sometimes weeks of feeling a lost sense of perspective.

When a phase feels like an eternity, community with other moms is a great place to seek solace. An "I can relate!" or a "My daughter went through that too!" might be just the thing we need to hear to bring back a healthy perspective and press on. 

In the same way you crave the encouragement of other moms, seek to dole out encouragement freely and often to other moms you encounter – at playdates, on walks, or just passing by in the grocery aisle. A kind and understanding smile and reassuring words are always welcome (and may be greatly needed). 

Sharing 

Creating a healthy network of mom friends yields a plethora of benefits. In addition to sharing resources like baby gear and clothing, having a healthy mom village means sharing ideas, advice, recipes, walks, funny stories, and more. 

I have felt so loved through my motherhood journey by friends bringing me boxes of clothes, suggesting a baby carrier that they enjoyed, and coming over just to sit and talk while I nursed on the couch. As my babies have grown, I've experienced the joy of passing on items that we utilized to others. My mom friends and I watch with glee as a favorite dress or pair of shoes makes its way from one family to the next, serving its current owner well and bringing back fond memories of days past for others. 

Problem-Solving 

How many times have you heard someone say of early motherhood, "As soon as you figure things out, they change again!" As cliché as it is, it's true! With a group of moms experiencing all different stages of early childhood, you can access a range of ideas, solutions, and situational outcomes from others' experiences. It's great to hear what worked and didn't for other babies and to know you're not alone. 

Time spent in relationships with other moms is also a reminder that we're all struggling and juggling a lot at once. Supporting each other and working together to tackle the big questions like "Will I go back to work?" or the smaller questions like "How do you clip your baby's toenails?" eases the lonesomeness of motherhood. We're all in it together! 

A Needed Break 

Last but certainly not least, moms raising babies can all benefit from some girl time! There are a million reasons that a ladies night out just won't work – conflicting schedules, finding a babysitter, bedtimes or feeding times, and the list goes on. Make it a priority anyway. Take some time away from your precious little one so that you can come back to your baby refreshed and rejuvenated by time with other moms. 

Be sure to choose your community carefully, surrounding yourself with women who bring positivity, light, and encouragement into your world. Nurture a culture of respect and patience within your village. Freely receive, and then freely give. Humbly listen to advice and gently offer ideas. Surround yourself with other moms who spur you on in this beautiful journey of motherhood. 

"Oran a azu nwa." 

It takes a village to raise a child. 

- Nigerian Igbo proverb 

5 Ways to Connect with Other Moms 

  1. Kids as Connectors: Use your kids' activities as a way to connect with other moms. Bravely strike up a conversation at daycare or preschool drop-off, or befriend the other moms at music or gymnastics class. If you're sitting through the class for your child, use it as a time for meaningful conversation with another parent.  
  2. Neighborly Love: Step outside and say hello to the mom walking down the street pushing a stroller by your house! Outdoor walks are not only COVID-friendly, but they're a perfect way to facilitate conversation and check the boxes for physical and mental health. 
  3. Nap Time, Chat Time: If you're not using a nap time to catch up on your own sleep, use it as a time to pick up the phone and call or video chat with a friend who's in the same parenting stage as you. Brief talks with your closest friend can be life-giving, providing the motivation and cheer to power through the rest of your day! 
  4. Plan a Night Out: It can be tough for friendships with other moms to go deeper when children are always around, interrupting and absorbing a lot of the parents' attention. Plan some time for just moms to get together and have uninterrupted discussions (that maybe don't ALL relate to parenting!). 
  5. Get Organized: If you struggle to put yourself out there, try an organization around town that will help facilitate relationships with other moms. This can be through a fitness center, a place of worship or Bible study, or a group like MOMS Club of Billings that specializes in mama connections! 

Originally printed in the January 2021 issue of Simply Local Magazine

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