Building a Village

One SAHM’s ambitions to bridge the gap in her path

For those of you who know me or my blog posts like this one and this one, you are aware that I am a pregnant (third trimester!) mother of a two-year-old and have chosen to not work during these formative years of her children’s lives.  You may know, as well, that we live in a tiny town in a rural county.  I have friends and family that I can call and count on*, yes, but there are so few near me that I feel I could rely on for any-and-every-thing.  I need a village.

Springboard

First off, the pregnancy hormones this time around are a bitch.  And they are making me a bitch.  A whiny, crying, resentful bitch stuck in her great big house in the great big Nowhere.  During my first pregnancy, I was still working so I had things like:

  • Double our current income
  • Daily interactions with other adults
  • No other children so more flexibility with my time

I feel stuck.  I feel distanced from everyone.  Not just the friends without children or with children who are more independent (re: older), but I feel like I’ve lost touch with so many just because I don’t have the time/money/energy… or they don’t want to deal with me, my toddler, and my stories of the SAHM life.

And don’t get me started on how the Mommy Wars  (and I’m not talking just about the battle regarding staying home or going back to work) have affected my relationships with those I thought were friends.

Second, I knew I needed to be proactive.  I’m the go-get-‘em girl.  I am the hostess with the mostess.  I have always been the one who pulls the wallflowers off the wall, adds in a few gregarious individuals, and mixes it up at my house.  I just keep feeling less and less inclined to do this.

Last, there was this blog post that was shared with me on Facebook from the online village I’ve been welcomed into.  Read it.

It Always Begins with a Book

For real.  For those of you who know me in the real world, you know how often I start sentences with  “This article I read…” and “In this book I got at the library…” and “I was reading about…”  For those of you who know me in the virtual world, you’ve probably picked up on my bibliophilia as well.

I read, consecutively, Desperate: Hope for the Mom who Needs to Breathe and Getting Unstuck.  Without going into drawn-out reviews of these books, I can tell you they were part of the “springboard” as well.  I’m intelligent and insightful and have been known as a great problem-solver, but sometimes even the best (not saying I am the best!) need little reminders and pushes and small matches to lead to big explosions.  It was both heart-touching and mind-enlightening to read these and remember that I’m not alone AND I have skills and talents I need to be putting to work.

I need to not only come up with the answer to my question but to form the question in the first place.  I can’t mope around, being miserable because I feel so isolated.  I need to figure out why I feel isolated and what I’m going to do about it.

Let’s see:  I feel like I don’t have other women with children the ages of mine who also have similar interests as me that live near enough to me it won’t be a major hassle for us to get together.  I feel like I don’t have older women who have been-here-done-this to call on when I need someone to listen and (not try to cram advice down my throat) tell me I really will come out on the other side as a better, strong person with good, strong children.

My question:  WHERE ARE THE OTHER WOMEN!?

Um, duh, Sarah.  They’re all around you.  They aren’t moths to your flame, though, honey; they have their own lives they are tending to.  Just.  Like.  You.

It Takes a Village

Our mothers and their mothers and so on had whole communities they could rely on.  They lived close to their families and lived in towns and neighborhoods filled with other SAHMs.

Today’s world is so much different than just 15-20 years ago… and certainly not made up of communities like those in which my grandmothers raised their children.  I could wax poetic about technology and personal transportation and the need for many mothers to work out of the home.  But you know all that.  Or you’ve heard it.  Or you can just SEE it when you watch the kids climb off the bus near your house or watch the parade of cars lined up AFTER FIVE PM at the various daycares and after-school programs.

But it really does take more than just one woman to raise her children.  And it takes more than that woman’s husband (significant other, whatever) to build her up.  A village needs to be in place where she has other women LIKE HER to talk to and visit with and be around and work with to build up the other mothers in the area.

We can’t do it alone.  No matter how strong we are, no matter how independently we make it through each day, we still need each other on some level.  Women need women!

My Next Step

Well, first off, I’d like to stop crying.  I’d like to stop feeling like I have no one to turn to and that I’m doing this all on my own.  I want to stop having these little meltdowns every time it seems like no one has time for me.  I want to be just as proactive in other moms’ lives as I want them to be in mine.  I don’t want to feel alone any more.

Then, I want to give mad props to the women who did invite me into their village**… online.  One of my besties lives about 3 hours away and has a village.  (Yes, they DO exist!)  They communicate with each other IN PERSON as well as on the phone, Facebook, Instagram, etc.  They support each other and offer advice and vent about stressors and share websites with insight and recipes and funny memes regarding life as a mother.  And I was welcomed into their private Facebook group.  Again, these lovely ladies are three hours away.

What I need is someone RIGHT NEXT DOOR. OK, maybe not that close.  But close enough that if they need me to bring over some bitchin’ brownies in the middle of the morning or I need one of them to take Angel Baby long enough to let me get my hair cut (it’s been over a year and it is obvious), then we can do that for one another.  Or heck, just meet up in someone’s kitchen while the kids play in the next room and everyone is ok eating with their fingers, sitting in yoga pants, and ignoring the piles of laundry (clean or dirty, I’ll ignore it for you).

That’s my next step:  building a local village.  I’m going to talk to the ladies that bring their kids to story time beyond introducing our children*** and I’m going to call the women whose numbers I have had the backbone to get and I’m going to build up other women the way I need built.

My Approach

I think I’ll start with the Facebook idea, actually.  See, our generation had Stranger Danger beaten into us as children and then were gifted modern communication technology like chat rooms and cell phones when we hit college.  We haven’t had to interact with strangers.  Sure, classmates and coworkers were strangers that we had to interact with (and I have some really good long-term friends who are former coworkers).  But those were not social situations like story time or the line at the grocery or the benches at the park.

I have actually tried to approach other moms to have them quickly smile then look at their phones as I got closer.  Seriously.  This avoidance tactic is very obvious, ladies, and it will get us no where.  So I’m going to be the awkward one and insist you freaking meet me.  In the meantime, I will start small and local and online.  You can get to know me that way and see if you want to spend face time with me.

If you live near me, and I hope some locals are reading my blog, then expect me to be a little more OUT THERE in the near future.  And look for the group invite on Facebook.  It is my first step.  There will be more.

Oh, yes.

There will be more.

Q-and-A

That stands for “queries and advice” rather than “questions and answers”.  What are your thoughts on my approach?  What are the steps you have taken to reach out?  Have other moms reached out to you?  Are you open to this idea?  What’s it worth to you?  Who is your village?  And can I join it?

*Honestly, more days than not, I feel like I’m so alone and that these friends and family AREN’T there for me and CAN’T be counted on.  And the mood I’m in today, I’m not going to get started on how many times I’ve called or texted or Facebook-messaged to get nada in return.  It wears me down and the tears start flowing again.

**Really, these are great women that I have a lot in common with.  It isn’t just that we are moms to young children or SAHMs or that kind of basic connection.  These women are strong, independent, intelligent, and “crunchy”… just like me.  Sadly, they just live too far away to really be MY village.  They are A village that I can talk to but it just isn’t the same.  And yes, I have made the drive out there to meet them in person.

***Seriously.  I think we’re all guilty of this.  We introduce our kids by name and age and then completely forget that we are the adults and we are more than just their caretakers.  Last week, I met a lovely woman who had a two year old girl AND was pregnant AND due the same week as me.  We told each other this information yet still managed to not introduce OURSELVES.  I never got her name!  WTF!  I hope she’s there next week so I can rectify this dreadful oversight.

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