(This article was first published in Issue 04 of Flourish Motherhood, a quarterly and motherly publication sowing seeds of love and faith.)
When I was blessed to become a mother, it didn’t take long to appreciate the built-in community that comes with motherhood.
The first place I met other mothers was at my local library where our public health nurse taught us how to care for our newborns and where I heard how other mothers were coping. These mothers made me feel normal and not alone.
Then, when I took my toddlers to parent-child programs and eventually nursery school, I met more mothers and formed friendships. Grade school, high school, camp, our local playground, and athletic events – all of these places provided me with classmates in motherhood.
When my kids were young, ‘mom talk’ revolved around daily routines, food preparation, driving schedules, play dates, and birthday parties. As my kids became tweens and teens, my mom community became even more important not only because emotions – mine and my daughters’ – ran high in our house, but because these are important formational and pivotal years for children, and parents.
Ever since I became a mom, my number one prayer, several times a day is asking God to help me be a better mom. Why? Because many conversations with my girls show me that I still have a lot to learn about how to listen and talk to my kids. I understand it’s the teen years and hormones that are mainly responsible, but equally so is how I respond. I have to keep in mind daily, from Mathews 28:20: ‘I am with you always.’
And, that passage comes to life through these three different groups of moms that the Lord has placed in my path as a source of comfort and encouragement.
The first group of moms is my family, including my mom, in-laws, and my very close female cousins. These women are at various levels of motherhood, have known me mostly since childhood, and can make unfiltered suggestions. I’m also including my dad here because he keeps his parenting advice to one phrase: ‘whatever you do or say, do it ‘always with love’. He’s consistent, because this is the phrase he chose for my wedding and one to which he keeps referring, from 1 Corinthians 13:7 ‘Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.’
The second group is the school moms at the same stage of parenting: mainly, our kids’ desire for the independence they so desperately crave but for which they are not fully ready. They understand the physical and emotional stress that comes with raising independent teens. We guide each other through understanding that we’ve sown the seeds for our children to do well and that we have to trust in God that we’ve done it the way he intended for us to do it.
And, the third group of mothers is the online parenting community, many of whom I will likely never meet. Their availability and vulnerability as they publicly share daily motherhood experiences is inspiring.
Social media was not a thing when my kids were young, so I didn’t have this supportive community that could let me know that motherhood isn’t as pretty as the magazines say. That, even though I had prayed to be able to carry my firstborn after a miscarriage, I could still experience post partum depression and later be frustrated that she wasn’t like me and had her own ideas for her own life.
Although motherhood is not as perfect as those little squares on Instagram tell you it is, the comments and reactions are honest and share how hard it is to mother with grace sometimes, to show that you are living Christ’s words in action. And, being able to DM a mother who’s been through parenting stages before me has provided me with a neutral source of understanding that my daughter having a boyfriend is a positive thing that means more people to love and include at family celebrations.
Social media has also taught me that motherhood comes in many shapes and sizes: blended families, single-parent households, bereaved mothers, and those not choosing to be mothers or unable to be mothers. I understand that loving someone doesn’t mean that you birthed them. It’s being supportive and caring and kind and available that makes a difference in the life of a child.
When I was a child and attended Sunday School, the most important passage from the Bible for me was Ephesians 4:32 ‘And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.’
My mom community, real and virtual, exhibits this kindness and love to me everyday, giving me strength to trust God that I am doing the same for my own children, while helping other moms along the path of motherhood.Email This Post