By Bethany Lynch, www.TheGracefulMom.com
No matter what parenting philosophy you choose or whether you work full time, part time, or stay at home, you need support as a mom. You need other women that can identify with who you are and what you do. You need a good foundation in your marriage and other couples to identify with, but there is just something about that friend or confidant that truly understands the core of what you believe.
There are a few things that I think will make your quest for these special ladies a little easier. True friendships usually take years to grow, but support systems are great because they can often be instant. Use caution in just jumping in to groups you identify with just because you identify with them. By taking these simple steps it is possible to form a deep and broad foundation when you need encouragement, inspiration, advice, or listening ears and eyes.
The first step is to look for several options or ways to find support. Be broad and be open. For me, I loved the Babywise series and identified with the goals immediately. However, I was completely lost as to how to troubleshoot when things weren’t perfect (can you say anxious first-time, high-strung mom?!) and where to find more information on implementing the broad ideas I read about. I actually “Googled” pro-Babywise and came across Valerie’s blog and found links to other forums. Some were easier for me to navigate or follow than others, but through one of those forums I met one of my dearest best friends. We are in very different roles. She works hard in the home and I work full time outside of my home. She’s preparing to homeschool and I had to find a new nanny recently, but we have kids of similar ages and very similar goals. We’ve made special plans to visit each other and have stayed in frequent touch for 5 years all because of a small forum.
Next, surround yourself with positive, similar women. Look for women older and younger and the same age, but make sure you choose wisely! It is so tempting to identify and associate with women that can relate to your hardships, but often this spirals down into venting, complaining, and occasionally even bashing. We easily jump onto the bandwagon when it is something we are passionate about, and while it is good to have strong beliefs, it is extremely worthwhile to hold to those beliefs with integrity. It not only sets a good example for your children but it sets a good example for people that don’t even agree with you. You are much more likely to find people that are supportive and encouraging even though you may not see eye to eye if you refuse to join in on criticizing others. I know women that can talk about child rearing, religion, schooling, healthcare, and all leave with a smile but I also know women that are so passionate about Babywise that you cannot even have a fair conversation about any other method.
I also believe that you have to actively find ways to support other women. You need to be a friend and encourager to others that have gone through similar hardships. You need to make an effort to inspire other moms to come together in support and community. It doesn’t have to entail starting a blog or a new forum. It can be as simple as asking someone to get coffee or as small as taking a meal to a new mom. I do know that you cannot always wait for someone else to step up, and you might end up being even more blessed than the person you sought out.
It’s is a cool, fascinating era when one can be part of a network of similar bloggers. I have met some absolutely amazing women through my blog and this network. Women that exist to speak positive, encouraging words. Women that support you whether you have a newborn or school age children, whether you have children with sensory disorders or severe allergies or no health issues. So thank you for being part of my support system!