I’ve always considered myself very openminded, especially with how parents raise their children. It’s not my or anyone’s position to determine what is best for one’s family. Whether it is the cloth vs. disposable diaper club, the breastfeeding vs. formula club, vaccinated vs. unvaccinated club, or even the organic vs. my kid only eats goldfish club, we all have different ways of child rearing. Personally, I don’t subscribe to just one type of parenting style or mantra, yet even with a neutral position, I find myself quietly competing with other moms. How dumb! I really want to get along with, befriend, connect, and bond with them, yet instead, I’m sucked into scrolling (or is it trolling?) through social media feeds, feeling left out, and doubting my mom-ness with how kept up, crafty, scheduled, and utterly amazing others mothering is. Suddenly, I am envious, jealous, and judgmental towards my fellow mom.
While I could easily conclude by blaming our obsessions with celebrities, our phones, social media, and basic human nature, we all deserve more, especially our children, than just finding a scapegoat of excuses. We have to be the change in order to see the change, but how? To start, try these four simple mindful changes to getting out of your head, embracing the journey, and finding your village:
1. ENGAGE with other moms IN REAL LIFE.
Yes, that’s actually what you read. You cannot simply follow all the Instagram bloggers or children brands to get to know REAL moms. Of course, they are beautiful and inspiring, but we simply cannot have a real connection to others when we have this unhealthy relationship with our phones and devices. This concept of having interpersonal relationships is nothing new, and it’s even harder to do when our children demand every moment of our time. Or worse, we feel like our previous identity before called mom disappeared. So where can you find these moms, who are most likely going through the same thing, feeling similar insecurities, and wanting to find a village too?
2. JOIN A GROUP with moms and babies
Family, friends, co-workers, church community, and neighbors are great resources for moms. Plus, if you just search for “mommy baby group” and your city, this will also show great results. The most important thing to do is join a group that interests you. Whether it’s a workout group, baby wearing meet up, or bible study group, this is a very crucial step in becoming involved with other moms.
3. LIMIT YOUR ARTIFICIAL REALITY TIME, or, really, social media!
To be honest, I am completely guilty of being on these platforms way too much. I mean, it’s good to be aware of what is going on around you, especially when many conversations might begin by talking about a Facebook announcement, post, Instagram picture, or funny viral video. But if we are only seeing artificial realities of nicely filtered images and edited text of specifically chosen moments, we will not be able to connect on a human level. Though we cannot completely outcast ourselves from these virtual realities, we should not let this be our only exposure to other moms. Plus, this can unnecessarily leave room for you to doubt your lifestyle choices by constantly comparing yourself to others.
4. MOST IMPORTANTLY, JUST BE YOU!
There are a lot of changes we go through to become “mom”: our hormones go insane, our bodies are marked, stretched, torn, cut, inflamed, or depleted by carrying and delivering little humans, and having to accept once-perky-but-now-saggy boobs. With these physiological changes, they often gravely influence our confidence, which can effect how we view ourselves overall. Though I am grateful to have more confidence in my 30s, this has not always been true, especially when I first became a mother.
At first, I felt alone in motherhood, comparing my physical and emotional self to my kid-free past, and had great difficulty connecting with other moms: I hadn’t fully embraced my new identity. It took time, but once I discovered my new identity, I was able to find a village of like-minded moms, which, in turn, developed into blossoming friendships with each other and our children. I had to learn, and am still reminding myself, to accept, love, and be me.
Whatever mom group you align with, ultimately, we have to be with and support each other. After all, we all have given up a lot of ourselves to become “mom”, so we need each other more than ever.