Like many of you who juggle motherhood and life, my checklists are long. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t enlist others to help me accomplish my list. I am thankful for the buddy system in taking and picking up kids from various activities or when I am stuck in a meeting at work and can call a friend to help rescue my daughter from the front of the school.
I must confess that I haven’t always been good about asking for help.
There was a time in my life when I wore the super woman cape and tried to do all of it alone at the risk of not being perfect and capable. What a lie I had bought into. You see , I thought if I was a capable woman I should be able to juggle the schedule of 4 children, a husband, a part-time job, various volunteer positions and of course be an amazing friend, daughter and sister too. Not forgetting to mention an amazing cook, immaculate housekeeper and fit as my college-age self.
Are you tired yet?
I sure was. Quite frankly I had to take the cape off when I became seriously ill with cancer and could no longer do it all. I struggled with the guilt and worry that I was letting everyone down when my loving husband told me my expectations were not what my family had put on me but what I had put on myself. Ouch! The truth hurt.
Over the years I began asking for help and letting go of my perception that I was not good enough. Guess what? Life wasn’t meant to do alone and in that reality I have found the best friendships and work relationships and it has improved my family dynamics too. We all need help. A wise friend once told me 90% is still an A, let go of the unrealistic life.
I spoke to a group of women this past spring and shared with them ways to encourage one another and how together they could design a community where no one expected perfection and where it felt safe to ask for help. At the end of my talk three ladies came up to me crying and promising that night they were going to be that community for each other. I recently talked with one of them and she shared with excitement about their supper club, their car pool schedule, and their baby-sitting co-op. The burden of mothering that they had felt was now erased by a strong community where they accepted each others flaws and gladly asked for help and lovingly gave help to each other.
Here are five ways to help foster authentic community with other moms:
First take a good (realistic) inventory of where you need help.
Have a candid conversation with your friends and then actually ask for help.
Create ideas and systems to help each other (i.e.everyone cooks together and then you each go home with fresh meals for your family and to stock the freezer, swap babysitting so you can have dates nights, volunteer or go get your hair cut).
Be real with each other by sharing your fears and failures.
Encourage each other.
Life is more enjoyable when you share it with others.
I cherish my friends who have helped me navigate the mothering years, who have picked up my children and taken them to countless activities, the girls who I can borrow their favorite sweater when my own budget wouldn’t let me buy my own, the ones who write me encouraging notes, and the ones who can give me honest answers when I need them most. If you have this community already, you are lucky. Guard it with your whole heart. If you haven’t found one yet, be brave and take the first step to create one. Together we can do this awesome thing called mothering!
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down, his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
What do you do to foster community with other moms?