Mother's Day was a couple of months ago, and while everyone was praising the incredible feats of all the moms they know, I was thinking about how if I've learned anything in my four years of motherhood, I've learned that I can't be everything for my children.
I am the mother of three little ones with a fourth on the way. I am by no means an expert on parenting, motherhood, or discipline. I just love them as best I can, apologize a whole lot and pray that I'm covering the right bases. One of the of the biggest things I see on a daily basis is my own limitations.
I think I've felt this weird pressure as a stay-at-home mom to wear every hat under the sun, and to give my kids every experience and viewpoint. In this age of do it yourself everything, I'm realizing just how essential a strong community is to child-rearing.
So many of us have become lone-ranger moms, but Hillary Clinton was right when she quoted that old African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child."
We recently moved several hours away from family, and it would be all too easy for me to simply get through my days without interacting with anyone outside of my immediate family (and trust me I have days like that). But, making and meeting up with other friends in my stage of life is not only good for my sanity, it's good for my children.
I want to be a constant in my children's lives--a source of unconditional love and support--,but I cannot be EVERYTHING to and for them. Raising them within a vibrant and rich community will teach them how much they need the love and support of other people.
It also discourages autonomy: the belief that they live outside the authority of others. In order to be truly productive members of society, our children must learn to submit to the authority of teachers, policemen, future bosses as well as civil and governmental authorities.
I'll admit it, trusting other people with my children is scary. Hiring a babysitter for the first time was a HUGE deal for me. We're talking background check, references, the works. But, I'm talking less about dropping your kids off at someone else's house and more about just making and maintaining friendships with good people that your kids can learn from organically.
When I think back on my own childhood, I can remember so many of the wonderful things I learned from adults that weren't my parents. My mom actually met my best friend's mom when they were teaching our toddlers Sunday school class at church. They hit it off and ended up encouraging our friendship outside the walls and halls of the church building. I spent a lot of time at my best friend's house growing up. Without knowing it and without really trying, her mom became a second mother to me.
My mom is an incredible, well-educated, eloquent, and quick witted woman. She passed down her love of reading and thinking to me. Watching Mrs. Leonard taught me about beauty, presentation, and hospitality. Walking into the Leonard's home was like walking into the pages of Country Living magazine. Spending time in their home taught me to love so many truly southern things like sweet tea and tasteful antiques.
We cannot do this thing called motherhood alone!
I'll admit it, striking up genuine adult friendships is no easy task. I've found that limited time and lack of shared history often derail potential friendships and keep conversation shallow. Even if I do strike gold and hit it off with another actual adult, its often more comfortable for me to sit back and wait for them to initiate a deeper friendship than to be proactive.
I don't have the whole community thing figured out, but I know that I need it and my family needs it. All I can tell you is that half of the time I'm resolved to initiate, text, call, and invite people into our home. I'm resolved to pray and put in the effort to make friendships work. The other half of the time I'm laying on the couch eating ice-cream and watching movies.
There's this Abundant Mama Mantra floating around Pinterest saying simply, "I am enough."
Well I'll tell you that I am simply not enough.
Thank God for fathers, grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, influential adults, teachers, pastors, neighbors, babysitters and friends. And thank God for their many and varied gifts, abilities, and weaknesses because each will make a deep and enriching impression on the minds and hearts of my little ones.
The weight of responsibility for the lives of my babies weighs heavily upon me every day, and I am held up, in part, by the strength of my team. Keep building your team ladies, and I'll try to keep building mine.