On one of our last Saturdays on Guam, the amazing mothers I had gotten to know through Garden Day got together and made me feel like the luckiest woman alive. I’m not really sure what to call the gathering they had for me, but it made me feel incredibly blessed, so I suppose a Mother Blessing is the closest thing. To any who were a part of it and may be reading this, I can’t say how incredibly grateful I am to know you, and to have you in my life – even if only from a distance now. All day long, I kept looking around at the people surrounding me, thinking, “Is it possible that I could ever find such an incredible group of talented, generous, caring women again?” There are amazing women everywhere, of course, but it’s a rare thing to find so many in community with one another. In the past I have dreamed of pulling together and introducing all of the amazing women I know, but on Guam, they were already friends and I’m honored that they shared that friendship with me, too. Continue reading
|Soaking up some rays at a party hosted by
Garden Day friends
I really never pictured myself as a play group sort of mama, although I don’t know what I did picture myself as. The whole adjustment from crazy-lady-holding-down-several-jobs-at-a-time-and-embracing-happy-hour-when-time-allowed, to stay-at-home mom really changed things, however, and I have struggled with striking a balance that allows me to fill our days with activities that are both meaningful and productive. All at once, it seems to have happened. We have community, and we have at least an idea for a flow of life around the house. I’ll admit that the community bit fell into place first, and the rest of our life is still a bit disorderly, but I can see that the balance is possible, and we’ll get at least sort of close eventually.
The first thing I discovered was a lovely, incredible group of families who have created the closest thing to a utopia I’ve discovered this side of my favorite little Montessori school. This thing is caled Garden Day, and it happens once a week when a group of lovely moms and their children get together in a
|Friends at our weekly play group|
backyard garden space. The children do the sorts of things that all children should, like climb on top of chicken coops and get dirt all over themselves until one of the incredibly talented women in the group calls them together for a story. The evening ends with a pot luck style vegetarian meal. Sometimes gardening happens, and sometimes it doesn’t, but there is always community, and I feel extremely honored to be a part of it. If I did nothing all week except for this, I think I would still be happy.
The very same week that I was introduced to Garden Day, a now dear friend, who was also in search of community, and I decided to start a mom’s group. We invited a handful of mothers we knew, who invited some mothers they knew, and so our circle grew. We now get together once a week and chat and laugh while our children play. I look forward to it all week long and am so thankful for the women involved and their children.
|Veggies, chopped in the company of friends|
Shortly after Christmas, I got an idea in my head: inspired by the idea behind “Dream Dinners,” I thought how nice it would be to dream up meals of our own and get together with friends once a week to prepare a dish or two. As it turns out, I’m not the only person who thought this way – I now have a great group of women getting together once a week to share recipes and try out new ideas in the kitchen. Our children happily play while we chat, chop, stir, and taste. It has been such fun so far!
I guess I am a play group mom after all, and so far that’s working for me. I gain so much from being part of a community, that the time outside the house really doesn’t make it any harder to keep up with things. Instead of getting stuck in the monotony of being at home, I appreciate our quiet days around the house and take care to make the most of them. I find myself happier and more motivated, and I think Annabelle enjoys it all, too. While it can still be hard to get things done around the house because Annabelle often comes to me, wanting to be held (not that I mind at all!) – she hardly notices I’m there when we’re at Garden Day, play group, or cooking day. She is so busy exploring and watching the other children, that my touch is not needed. Being a play group mama is not so bad after all!
In addition to my real life community, I have learned so much and formed some important connections in the virtual world, thanks to the Natural Parents Network and blogging in general. Some days, all a mama really needs is to know she’s not alone.
There’s an episode of Seinfeld where Elaine is dating a jazz musician named John. After she shares some of the more juicy details of their encounters with Jerry, Jerry runs into a member of John’s band and tells him that his friend Elaine and John are, “pretty hot and heavy.” Later on, Jerry relays the details of this conversation to Elaine and she’s horrified. She tells Jerry, “What if he tells John? Then John’s gonna think that I think that we’re hot and heavy. I don’t want John thinking that I’m hot and heavy if he’s not hot and heavy!”
Obviously this is an exaggerated and fictional scenario, but I can relate on so many levels, most of them not at all romantic. I was talking with a friend recently about how strange it is that we meet people all the time, yet it’s rare to actually make a connection with someone. Even when it seems like we’ve made a connection with another person, it can feel tenuous and we’re afraid to embrace it, because, ‘I don’t want them to think that I think we have a connection if they don’t think we have a connection!’ This feeling, this sort of fear of being rejected, is something I think more of us can relate to than not.
I must have used the phrase, “I don’t know how adults make friends!” at least a dozen times over the past several years. It’s so easy in school, where we have something in common with everyone – even if it’s only that we walk down the same hallway as one another on a regular basis. I had just as many eccentricities and peculiar interests in high school as I do now, perhaps even more – but it was still easy to relate to others. As we grow older, however, we develop our own private lives and don’t necessarily share anything with others on a daily basis, so it takes real effort to reach out and find people we can truly relate to. To find friends. To find your niche.
Despite the challenges, I found a way to make connections in my first several years outside of school. I met people through work, I met friends through other friends and connections were made while enjoying live music, art, or martinis. Motherhood, particularly stay-at-home motherhood, however, has been a total game changer and I’m just beginning to adjust to it. I am finding that the more I let go of the fear that others will think I’m nuts, the more I’m able to freely connect. That all started, of course, back in July with my parenting declaration of independence. The old cliché that you “have to be a friend to make friends” certainly seems to ring true, and I’m finding that the more I offer myself to others, the more connections I’m able to make.
How have you gone about finding your niche? Do you feel that motherhood makes doing so easier, or harder?