We’re missing community.
Those were the words I uttered to the elderly lady in front of me in line yesterday as we waited to board my plane from Nashville to Chicago. There’s this strange bonding moment when you fly Southwest Airlines as the normal social standards of smiling and a nod are broken as humans scramble to discover where they’re stacked in line. This sweet woman, about a foot shorter than me, and her husband, wearing very white tennis shoes, ended up being A57 and A58 and thus right in front of my A59 boarding pass.
At least we were the A group. Barely.
And as we stood there, waiting to file on board a plane soon to be 37,000 feet in the air, we began talking – about life, motherhood, travel, and then about my adventures to Haiti. The last words I uttered to her before they choose the seat directly in front of me were I learned more about motherhood in Haiti than I’ve learned in a lifetime here I think.
I thought that was the end of our interactions, really. Well, I did tell them enjoy Florida as I stood in line waiting for them to exit our jet.
Until we journeyed down the jetbridge, in now 18 degree Chicago, with them getting ready to board another plane to Fort Lauderdale and me getting ready to return home to very freezing and snow packed Minneapolis. As I dragged my very beat up red suitcase with the black and white ribbon tied and the yellow id tag I heard a voice behind me.
What did those mothers teach you?
It was that sweet woman. That sweet woman, who talked with me the entire time we waited to board, who patted my hand which was clinging tightly to my suitcase, and who smiled and said thanks for sharing your story with us, as we sat on the plane. The woman who made me realize just how much I miss my grandmothers. You know, I miss them. I miss the love, the words, the pats on my hand, and just knowing they were there for me.
They taught me that motherhood shouldn’t be an alone adventure.
That’s what I told her. In the vast collection of stories, tales, adventures, cooking, and observing, now almost 9 months later that’s what I came home with the strongest from Haiti. Those days spent in 100 degree temps, with high humidity, where my really curly hair couldn’t be hidden, where I was thousands of miles from my normal, that’s what I discovered.
Motherhood isn’t meant to be lonely.
[Tweet “Motherhood isn’t meant to be lonely. “]
And this sweet woman, with her large handbag, and slight stoop to her posture, with her husband waiting and holding her wrinkled hand, a hand that lived a life, looked at me and told me profound, wise, words from a person who has seen and lived life.
You all live in such a digital world and lose community, I think.
Yes, yes, yes.
Tears filled my eyes. Even this, this was an example of community. We were forced to communicate, yes, due to the boarding procedures of Southwest, and in those moments of communication I was blessed to learn truth from a woman with white short hair and deep blue eyes about life and motherhood.
We lose community.
Community is what we as mothers need. How often do you walk into a crowded room, a room full of woman, and instead of feeling like sisters you feel alone? Just last week I spoke to a group of mothers about Haiti and I emphasized again and again and again about the need to cultivate and grow community. To be real. To grow. To not hide.
To not hide.
Oh my, sweet friends, I hide sometimes. Wait. I hide all too often. I hide behind muffled I’m fine’s and makeup that makes me appear not as tired and baskets of stuff that I should just get rid of put in the office so that no one sees that I have really no idea what to do with all of the miscellany items. I just get so nervous, so afraid, so fearful of letting people see the real me. We live in a culture of perceived perfection, really. We live in perfect instagrams, beautiful pins, clever updates, and sassy tweets. And yet, behind it all, there we are.
There you are.
Living a life that may not be perfect. Living a life that makes you want to cry at times. Living a motherhood journey that instead feeling like community feels so incredibly lonely.
You are not alone.
You are not the only mom who wakes at three am and wishes just for once the baby would sleep through the night. You are not the only mom in the midst of a relationship crisis who sees a world of perceived happy couples and you wonder why you were never worth it. (You’re worth it, by the way, don’t ever let those thoughts define you.) You are not the only mom with piles of laundry, phones ringing, your hair in a pony-tail, messy fingerprinted windows, and with crackers smashed into the just vacuumed carpets. You’re not the only mom working wishing you were home or being the mom home wishing you were working.
I just wish you could hear how you are not alone.
And yet, it takes community too. And community means vulnerability. And that? That’s hard.
It’s hard to open the door to one’s life and to admit that you don’t have it all together. But maybe it’s not that you don’t have it all together. Maybe, just maybe, maybe it’s you in the midst of a very normal, giving, working hard, constantly moving, and trying life. Life cannot look like a page in a magazine. Our homes are being lived in – not photographed for the world. Our kids are learning and testing and growing. That’s messy. Our cars are being driven and used and will show that giving of time, self, and energy.
Life isn’t a perfect picture.
It’s a real picture.
And community starts when you and I and the other mom at preschool and work and in the grocery store or even in those moments in line waiting to board an airplane decide to instead of keeping it as an I’m fine actually begin to be real. It’s in those moments that I experienced last week when I spoke for a mom’s group and everyone went around the table offering prayers and requests for needs in their lives. Real.
Motherhood should be a hand in hand, walking side by side, cheerleading each other on journey.
[Tweet “Motherhood should be a hand in hand, walking side by side, cheerleading each other on journey.”]
That’s what I want this place, this site, this blip on the internet to be. Not a place promoting perfection, but rather real. Authentic. Mothers who see the beauty in the midst of motherhood and yet can admit that sometimes it’s not easy. It’s a place of not judging, but encouragement.
So today, today, to that sweet woman who is now in the warmth of Florida, I thank you. Thank you for finding me in that busy collection of people leaving a plane, and asking me what I learned. Thank you because you taught me to always want to learn, to grow, and to seek out others. Thank you for embracing me, the mom on her way home, the mom who was a bit tired, the mom who fights hard for her family, and the mom who just needed to know she wasn’t alone.
And to you, you the mom reading these words, thank you. Thank you for being brave, real, and fighting for community. Motherhood isn’t meant to be lonely. It’s to be a journey that you and me and the mom on the other side of the world and next door to you, well, that we all share.
Real moms finding joy.
Who do you know that needs encouragement? Today, today my challenge to you is to remind them that they’re not alone. Send them this article. A card. A message. A phone call. A smile. Community starts with each of us. ~Rachel
For more Real Mom Encouragement read:
Dear Mom Who Feels Like She Wants to Quit
For the Days When You Feel Like the Worst Mom Ever
Thanks for this post!! It is so true. I find that when I have having just a terrible few weeks and just feeling overwhelmed, it’s often because I have been missing that community. Joining a Bible study, spending time with friends….I need that. They need that. God created us to be in community!
This post def hit something in me. There are so many days when I feel so alone like there is no one out there feeling this terrible but thankfully I have a few friends I can call to let me know it’s ok. I’m putting your number on speed dial the next time I’m feeling like that! 😉
Thanks and so glad to have met you!
I, too, am so thankful that I have met you as well. You are a wonderful and a friend.
Best thing I’ve read on mothering in a while. I love it.
Thank you, Anna.
I am reaching out, and reaching out in a small town no less. The moment I say something controversial or that someone does not agree with, the walls go up. And I am shunned from the group. At the most vulnerable time when I need support. It is petty judgment that feels like high school or middle school all over again. When people are arguing because your are the last person not picked for a team, and no body wants you. And it feels horrible. And it is not worth it.
So I go back in my shell to be lonely again with my medically fragile multi-disabled child. Every one promised to be there, and support was what I needed more than money or frozen meals to fill our freezer. I needed a friend.
And family ran away after a couple years. And I was stuck in a hospital room with a critically ill child for way too long. And I fought hard to keep her alive. And she lived!!
And I came home desperate for friendship. And it never came. And doors were shut the more I reached out. And even the school does not want to get to close because the want to deny every service my child needs…
So I gave up. Maybe one day a jewel of a person will come along. I just hope I am not too hardened to see them.
Sorry to be a downer.
I am so sorry. To read your words makes my heart ache. I am sorry that you are so lonely and that others haven’t reached out their hands to you and embraced you as a sister. My thoughts for you is that exactly the right person meets you right now when you need her most.
With joy. And thank you for being real, for opening up, and dialoguing with me. That matters to me.
Julie, I don’t know if you’ll see this but praying for you right now!
Continuing to lift up prayers, Rachel!
Psalms 91:1-2, 4 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. (4) He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Always a blessing to hear from you Lynn.
To Rachel, – thank you for this post. Motherhood can get lonesome if you are not connected with other moms or friends in your community. It is not easy for a stay at home mom to reach out to mom groups,especially if they are depressed or shy. I know because I’ve been there. Friends tried to get me to join groups when I was a stay at home mom but I didn’t have the confidence to go. It took me at least two years and lots of convincing from a friend to attend my first moms group. I did not feel very comfortable in this group, but I later got the courage to try a different group and I ended up liking the group and coming out of my shell. I even ended up working in that center for a while which lead to other jobs and more friendships.
Today I work with a fitness center for children that helps them develop their self esteem. I love my job, but being a parent is the best job ever.( not the easiest)
You are welcome, Rachel. I am so thankful that you kept trying until you found a group of women who embraced and loved you for who you are – that’s beautiful. And yes, being a parent, while not easy, is awesome.
The Lord will always use whatever you’re going through for your good! Know that I’m praying!
Psalms 91:9-12 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Always praying in Seattle! Adding more prayers for safe travels!
Psalms 91:14-15 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
[…] Community. Always a good reminder. […]