Being a mom isn’t always easy. If you’re like me, maybe you’ve struggled over the years to find your footing, to really feel like you’re enjoying this season of motherhood, and to be the best mom you can be without losing your own sense of identity. There’s no guidebook and I’ve often found myself wondering, “what do I do?” or “how did I get here?”
Many are blessed to have a supportive spouse or partner to walk with on this parenting journey. Others may be fortunate to have family members nearby willing and able to offer assistance and care. Still, not everyone can lay claim to that kind of support–and even for those who can, motherhood, with all of its ups and downs, can often feel tricky and isolating.
I don’t know a lot about parenting. In fact, I’m poorly qualified to offer sage advice, fun encouragement, and practical tips. However, one thing I have learned over the years and wish I had appropriated sooner on in my motherhood is the idea of building a mom team.
There’s something really beautiful about walking through motherhood with your best gal pals, who have kids the same age as yours, and who are in similar stages and walks of life. But sometimes I wonder if we get too caught up in associating only with those who can relate to us in our current life phase. Perhaps without meaning to, we lose some perspective, miss out on needed wisdom, and forgo deep friendships for the sake of relationships that are easily accessible and comfortable.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m so thankful for the moms in my community who are in the same season of life as me. But their perspective isn’t the only perspective–their voice isn’t the only voice–and I need a truly diverse tribe of women to encourage and challenge me each step of the way. Maybe you do too.
Build Your Mom Team
Build your team with moms who are in a different stage of parenting than you. Some of my sweetest friends are those who are still birthing children (I have definitely passed that stage) and those whose kids are moving onto college and beyond. I get the benefit of gleaning wisdom from moms who have parented through my current parenting stage and I can offer encouragement to those who are still in the thick of chasing after little ones. And as an added bonus, their kids, both younger and older, are some of my sweetest BFF’s too. It’s a privilege to walk through life with them.
Build your team with women without a spouse and kids. Keeping a pulse on relationships with friends who are not married and who don’t have children has felt like a breath of fresh air. These are friends who are incredibly gracious and flexible with their time, offering perspectives about my struggles as a wife and mom through humility, kindness, and sometimes zinging truth. Shocker, the zinging truths don’t often feel great–but what I appreciate about them is their ability to say hard things out of love instead of easy things out of apathy. They care deeply that I have a healthy marriage and family life. And even though they might not be able to fully relate to my experiences as wife and mom, what they do offer in abundance is a perspective that pushes me to be a better version of myself.
Build your team with a single mom. Single moms are like superheroes. They know how to get things done, move a million miles a minute, and keep everyone fed, happy, and healthy. Selfless to the core, these mom friends have consistently exhibited grace under stress and an incredibly hard work ethic. They love without judgment and many have allowed me to be an active participant in their lives too. And that’s a beautiful thing about friendship, isn’t it–that we give and take–remembering that community is built by both offering help and asking for it as well.
Build your team with high school and college students. Ok, perhaps this particular age demographic might not have a ton to offer in terms of parenting and marital advice, but their presence on my team has been irreplaceable. They keep life fun, yes, but have also offered up some of the most thoughtful reflections about human existence, faith, politics, and cultural identity–it’s astounding and life-giving to enter into such wonderful conversations with them. They remind me that this next generation of young adults is precious and worth putting forth the effort to include. Plus, they are generally the most fun to be around and I feel incredibly indebted to them for the care, attention, and positive influence they are to my kids.
Build your team with a mom whose child has special needs. Although not extensive, my experience working with kids with special needs has opened up a world filled with adventure, creativity, and exploration. And their moms? How can I adequately communicate their value as caretakers and advocates–women who exhibit such kindness but also seriously know how to get stuff done. These are the friends who understand the delicate tensions of joy and sorrow. Likely, they’ve lived through those truths more than most of us and because of that, their presence, perspective, and person-hood is invaluable. Also, there’s a good chance this mom is very, very tired. Offer to buy her an iced coffee the next time you see her.
It’s Worth It
Although not entirely inclusive, maybe this list will spark an idea, reminder, or encouragement that sometimes widening our circles with intentionality can produce the type of community we so desperately want and need. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort, but what a privilege to increase the value of our tribe and hopefully…just maybe…add some value to someone else’s.