Last night during bible study, we got into a discussion about our villages. How blessed we feel to have met one another and formed a village there and at our local mom’s group. How lucky we are for the village members whom we picked up off the street, and just in general how happy we are for women who make us better. I love my husband, he is my authentic best friend. He’s the person who has seen me at my best and worst and continues loving me. Every day he pushes me, without even knowing it, to be a better version of myself than the day before. We’ve built a family together, and now we are building our community beyond our home’s walls.
Friends mean more to me, I think, they do than they mean to others. I don’t have family, I have family. When I have a question about a bra, lady problems, or want to vent about my children. I don’t have a mom to call, I call a friend. I’ve been feeling particularly emotional about my village as of lately, since being without them over the summer. It’s hard to think about leaving them in May, or waving goodbye to them as they head off to places like Oregon, Sicily, or California.
I spent some time reflecting on my village’s formation this morning during quiet time. My first year of motherhood was so rocky, emotionally draining, and isolating. I allowed myself to feel shamed by other mothers. There kids didn’t get ear infections, so it must’ve been my shotty parenting. They looked blissful and content nursing their babies, and I felt so tense and stressed at each nursing session until Liam had his lip and tongue tied surgically repaired. (Like, surgically people. I don’t mean with a laser and no anesthesia. It was hella scary!!) I also felt like everyone had a parenting philosophy. Was I the only person just trying to survive the day? Then, it happened. My people started appearing: some from a mom’s community group, some at the gym, but most at church. (Three of my best friends I met online, and one of my best friends our husband’s worked together.)
I feel like I have motherhood sisters, the women I’ve spent time in the trenches with. The women I text at 3:00 a.m. while nursing, because I know they’re up nursing too. The friends I can call in the middle of the day to be like, “You’re never going to believe what happened.” The sisterhood I can reach out to about the hard stuff. The friends who knock on the door with Starbucks, an encouraging handwritten note, or a hug when you’re just not sure you can’t carry on anymore. When you feel genuinely weary, inadequate, and like a ticking time bomb. There the friends you also celebrate life’s huge successes life: your friend’s husband getting his dream job, another friend’s upcoming move to Italy, another friend’s LulaRoe launch, or your friend landing a perfect job in children’s ministry where she can touch the lives of young kids every single day, or the cover of your book being ready to showcase to the world, or sharing chapters of your book for friends to indulge in. There are smaller successes that require celebration too- your friend didn’t eat a cookie all day, your friend’s son didn’t bite anyone at the gym this morning, your blog post went viral. The village is where simple, ordinary, mundane things are your life. The village is the place an average morning at the park becomes a free therapy session. The village is where God works in your life, its the examples for your children on relationships outside of their families.
The village is where you go to learn that you are not alone. You’re not alone physically, and you’re not alone in spirit and heart. The world is not perfect and social media can leave us to believe that sometimes. Spend three hours at a park with a two year old and his parents, I can assure you that you will find yourself feeling perfectly adequate. Be honest, tell the mom who asks how you’re doing that you are so tired of your four year old saying the word “hate.” you could scream. (Okay, fine you already have AND YOU
WOULD WILL DO IT AGAIN.) Have dinner together when your husbands are out of town, or working late. Love each other well, relish the village. Admit your shortcomings, celebrate your successes, and find comfort in your village.
If you’re working to find/build your village- just show up. Go to that event at the library for babies, join that group at your church, or visit that online forum for moms. I know that putting one’s self out there can be really, really, really nerve wrecking. Your maternal BFF is out there, waiting to walk through life with you.