When I was pregnant with my son, many of my well-meaning friends and relatives stressed the importance of finding a mommy group in my neighborhood. “You will need the support,” they said. “You will be lonely,” they warned.
I kept those words in mind and was certain that I would have an easy time of neatly fitting myself into a group of cool moms that nursed together at cafés and swapped onesies. I thought that living in a family-centric neighborhood meant that every mom would love to be my friend. I thought I would just stroll into our local playground, and all the mothers would flock to me, eager to have me join their club.
Then my son was born and my plans to forge this wonderful bond with the local moms were put aside for the actual bonding I was doing with my newborn. My life was feeding, comforting, and hoping I was being a good mother. I suppose this was the time I could have used the most support. I was just too caught up in my own world of new motherhood to seek out the community I needed.
I was lucky to have other friends who happened to be mothers. I say, “happened to be mothers,” because it is important to stress that our friendships are defined by things beyond motherhood, and our having children has no bearing on whether or not we would get along. We have mutual friends without children and our relationships revolve around our lives, not our kids. These friends were and still are very supportive, and I am grateful for them.
I still felt alone. My friends with kids were scattered amongst various suburbs and cities, while I was in Brooklyn. They lived too far away to be seen on a regular basis, especially given the difficulty of schlepping around a nursing newborn. We also occupied different places in the parenting world. I embraced our varying child-rearing philosophies, while still longing to connect with other like-minded mothers.
I did manage to build a few friendships with other moms in my neighborhood. I connect with them from time to time and enjoy learning from them. We can talk about our kids all day and never feel like we are bothering each other with our issues with sleep and potty training. I am grateful for them.
I still felt alone. I was longing to be a part of a bigger community; something beyond a forum on a parenting website. I knew there was something larger than my own little world of motherhood. I wanted to be part of conversation between all mothers.
I started this blog to join that conversation. I started it as I way to share all those thoughts, fears and hopes I couldn’t express anywhere else. I was thrilled when anyone would read my writing and take the time to acknowledge that they too were sharing my struggles. I wanted to make other moms feel validated.
I had been blogging for almost two years before I decided that maybe my voice was worth hearing beyond my tiny network of followers and friends kind enough to read my posts. I was inspired by other moms, like Becky of BeckyTountas.com, who were finding their place in the vast blogosphere. I admired them for their bravery, their humor and their strength. I learned that if I wanted to get myself out there, I had to put myself out there. I had to be just as brave, funny and strong as the bloggers I admired. I had to be me.
I began submitting my work and joined a few Facebook groups to learn from other, more seasoned bloggers. What I thought would just be a useful guide became what I had been looking for since I became a mother. Here were all of these women putting themselves out there, hoping their words would uplift other mothers. They promoted others alongside themselves, as they knew together we had a stronger voice. This was that community. This was that village we mothers all need.
I am a little-known blogger with a growing following, thanks in part to the kindness of these women. I am especially grateful to the women of Mombabble.com, who gave me my first platform beyond my blog and connected me with a wider audience. I am thankful for my friends, many of whom I’ve known for years, who have opened up to me about their own struggles. I am thankful for all the wonderful bloggers I have discovered, who inspire me to be a better writer.
A village is more than people living in the same area. A village is millions of mothers giving a voice to such difficult topics as postpartum depression. A village is a reason to laugh at those parenting mishaps we thought no one else experienced. A village is a movement. A village is motherhood. I’m happy I found mine.