Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You Can't Do It Alone

This morning, amid the intermittent showers and occasional rumbles of thunder, I hosted a pool party for the moms of our church family. Everyone brought snacks or desserts or drinks and we ordered some cheap pizza for lunch. As early as 11 a.m., kids were jumping in the pool, laughing and splashing each other. Some of the moms were in the pool with their kids, some of them were sitting pool-side snacking on veggies and dip. All of us were chatting, commiserating, and generally catching up.

As we were enjoying the time together, I was struck by the one common thread that ran through every woman's conversation. We were all so glad for the chance to get together and hang out with each other that none of us really cared about the forecast.  For the next several hours of our time together, I kept hearing the same thing, over and over: "It's so nice to get out of the house for a little while,"  or "I'm so glad I came, even though I worried about the storms."

All of our conversations today just reinforced one of the most elemental truths I've learned about parenting since I came home full-time (oh, so many years ago!) to parent Shaggy.  We are not meant to do this gig alone. And by "we" I am speaking primarily to moms. But be certain, NONE of us are meant to do this molding and shaping and character building (in them and in us!) work alone. In the early years of my parenting journey, I was incredibly blessed to have some really great BTDT moms in my daily life. I was privileged to observe their parenting journeys. To be in their homes and around their kids. To sit in on their teachings and to be able to ask them questions after question after question. I learned pretty early on that no matter how much I knew about babies and child care, I really knew very little about parenting. These were women who taught me that. But they also taught me how to learn about parenting. Some by parenting me to various degrees. Some by letting me in on their lives. Some by coming alongside me in very tangible and practical ways. It was humbling, to have their wisdom and excellence pouring into my life. And even more humbling to realize just how much I needed it. Needed them.

Later, as Shaggy grew and the others came along behind him, I was honored to be part of two teams that worked intentionally to be that kind of friend to the other, younger moms who were coming up behind us. These women were hungry to learn more. To do more. To provide more. To share more of what had been shared with us as we were stumbling along as new moms.  As our leader used to say, "Moms need moms."  And we honed our focus to that mission. Young moms needed to be mothered by the older moms. Young moms needed peer moms who were "in the trenches with them." Young moms needed to give to other younger moms - to feel as if their experiences were counting for something in the life of another adult. And we found ways to make that happen - for the new moms and for ourselves. For we all, as a team, recognized that we hadn't arrived. We still needed other moms. We still needed to learn and to grow.

It is because of these experiences in the early years of parenting that I have such a heart for the moms in my life. I want to see them grow. I want to see them improve and pursue excellence. I want to see them have a bit of holy discontent in their journey. Just enough that they aren't satisfied to rest on their skill set and accomplishments just yet. I want to see the moms around me dig in and desire to learn at the feet (so to speak) of the older moms in their circles of friends.  I will be the first to admit, I am still getting used to the fact that I am now one of those "older moms" that the younger ones turn to for insight or support. But I will also freely admit that I DON'T have it all together and I'm still gleaning and learning when I can. When I feel stuck or at a loss for a creative way to take my parenting to the next level.  I want to always feel like I need other moms in my life to spur me on to growth. To nudge me into healthy change and positive progress in my parenting journey.

One of the best resources I have recently found is the book called, Raising Great Kids by Cloud and Townsend.  It's an older book, written by the two Christian psychologists (of the Boundaries series fame) specifically to support and resource the M.O.P.S. ministry that has found a home in so many churches across the country.  The video series was great, but the chapter book is so much meatier and more helpful.  I've been enjoying the wake-up call it gives me toward certain character growth I can be seeing in my Gang. I've been chagrined to find some things I could be and should be changing. But the thing I've enjoyed the most?  Is their emphasis that you can't do this parenting thing alone. You can't and you shouldn't.  From the very first character trait they address through till the very end of the series and the book, they point over and over again to the fact that God made us to be IN RELATIONSHIP with others. With Himself. We can't do this alone. The journey of life, of marriage, of parenting - it was all meant to be in the context of community and of relationships that are meaningful and intentional.

So today, if you are struggling in a particular area of your parenting, can I remind you to buddy up? You can't do this stuff alone. Parenting, whether as a single parent or two-parent family, adopted children or biological children, blended family or even extended family, is too hard to go through alone. You need a friend. You need another mom who has made it through what you are experiencing. You need a fellow-mom who is in the same trenches you are in right now. And you need a mom who needs your experiences and your wisdom. Each of these kinds of relationships bring something different to your life, things that you need to receive and that you need to give. 

"Moms need moms."  It's a truth you can't escape. You can't do it alone. Nor should you.


Christie said...

BRAVO!!!! (and I never hardly leave a comment anywhere - so that just tells ya how much I love and agree with one...)

IF ONLY it would catch on!!


Aus said...

Morning GM - if I may 'embellish' a tad...

MOPS and MOMS associations are spot on here - Marie (and to some extent me) have been involved in MOMS for several years....but that's a digression.

I've close enough to 52 (next week in fact) and Marie's a day closer to 51...we're the "older parents" of groups like this now....and we still gain new insights almost every day....and at our age you still need the other parents - it never ends.....

But it's way more fun to share the joys - and easier to share the burdens - so yeah, you can't do it alone!!

hugs - aus and co.

Stephanie said...

Thanks so much for the encouragement and truth you spoke in this post. As I lay here on my couch, stricken with mono at 42, momma of a 3 year old and 19 month old, I am so aware of the fact that Ic an't do this alone. Right now it's te practical stuff (lunches, cleaning, etc.), but with my daughters' character -- the stuf that really matters -- it is so true that we need each other. Thanks again!!