Finding Strength In A Story

I joined a moms’ group. Looking ahead to fall and winter with colder weather and too few activities planned, I needed something for myself and the kids.

I’ve participated in another chapter of this organization before, but changed chapters this year because of schedules and an attempt to finally meet some moms in my own town… Something that hasn’t happened in a neighborhood full of mainly people who are retired or parents of teenagers.

I walked in with the kids this morning. This chapter is different. It’s bigger. There are even computer kiosks to sign in, get name tags, and print out tags for your kids.

I felt vulnerable but excited about the morning ahead – meeting new people, a great speaker, and the opportunity for two hours to actually miss my kids.

After successfully navigating registration and dropping off my little ones in their rooms, I headed to my new table.

I have been in a bit of  hard place lately, and feeling the need to reconnect. That being said, I tend to be very open and heart-on-sleeve – not unlike at times that little puppy frantically wagging its tail, like me, like me, like me.

My goal: Meet people, but be reserved. Put less of myself out there for a change. That feeling was reinforced by seeing how polished this large group of women appeared. They hadn’t thrown themselves frantically to get to the meetings as I had. There were actual hairSTYLES. Matching shoes and purses, even.

I listened to the speaker ask us what our gifts are, and how God is asking us to serve. To focus on those gifts and strengths.

Almost immediately after our table’s discussion began, a young woman was crying. Newly divorced. Struggled with mental illness. Trying to do her best to get on track. In love with her daughter. She felt ill-equipped because she hadn’t learned the tools from her mother about how to be a parent. We looked at her. We listened. We absorbed it. Touched her back. But the group was also very quiet.

I looked around this table of these women who, as of yet, had no impression of me. I was still safe.

I looked at the woman crying, took a breath, and spoke:

I haven’t been on your road, and I can’t imagine what you have been through. But one thing you mentioned was feeling ill-equipped as a mother.

I know that feeling. In fact, I’m in counseling partially to address that. I grew up without my mother and I am not close with my father. As my counselor has told me, “mothering is not a natural role” for me.

That does not mean I’m not a good mom. It doesn’t mean I don’t adore my kids. But the skill set that I thought I’d learn along the way is hard for me to find.

You’re here. You spoke up today, and now we know we have something in common. You’ve done something to help yourself today. That’s how you build a community.

It may not have been the first thing I would have wanted for these women to learn about me. It may even alienate me from some.

It doesn’t matter. My story isn’t my burden – It’s my gift. My natural strengths are in helping others and building communities. One of the components of that for me is that I am willing to be vulnerable and share who I am.

That is focusing on my strength and on how God calls me to serve. Right now it may be in ways that I hadn’t expected, like through blogging. Today, it was by allowing myself to stop worrying about what strangers think and allow for genuine connection with someone who truly needed it on this day.

I’m thankful.


  • http://www.mom-mom-mom.com/ mom-mom-mom

    I think the Big Guy put you at that table for a reason. Never stop being you~

    • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

      Thanks, girl.

  • Pingback: Finding Strength In A Story | Parenting News

  • http://tiaras-and-trucks.blogspot.com Angela

    I cannot imagine how that woman felt when the room was so quiet after she spoke.  Perhaps you alienated a few with your admission, but I am sure that you gave that other, vulnerable mother hope and a feeling of community and acceptance.  Maybe it wasn’t what you planned to do, but it sounds like it was what you were MEANT to do, and that is amazing.

    • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

      I definitely left that meeting with a lot to think about – But I definitely haven’t regretted for a minute speaking up.

  • http://farewellstranger.com Robin @ Farewell, Stranger

    I love you even more because you did this. All of this – something for yourself, helping another, writing about it. It’s all amazing. 

    And I also know exactly what you mean. :)

    • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

      Just had a vision of you at BlogHer trying to decide whether or not to walk up to the microphone… ;) Love your bravery, girl.

  • Vinobaby

    LOVE  your line “My story isn’t my burden – It’s my gift.”  Perfect.  Think about what a difference you may have made in that woman’s life.

    • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

      Thanks. Amongst all of the day-to-day junk, it felt good to have a moment where I felt proud of my actions.

  • Anonymous

    LOVE  your line “My story isn’t my burden – It’s my gift.”  Perfect. 
    Think about what a difference you may have made in that woman’s life.

  • http://www.literalmom.com Missy | Literal Mom

    I LOVE THIS.  This is why I love you.  Like you, I try to be more reserved in person sometimes.  But you know what?  Sometimes that doesn’t fit the need and if there’s a chance to connect with someone who desperately needs it and it might alienate me from others who don’t have the ability to reach out for whatever reason, then I’ll take that chance.  

    Good for you, Tracy.  

    • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

      Thanks, Missy. It’s so true – And really? What’s the point of being someone I’m not to fit in better or impress a group? What do I really gain there? Absolutely nothing because I wouldn’t have been genuine.

  • http://www.thewatson6.blogspot.com jessica

    Wow, I love this. “My story isn’t my burden – It’s my gift.” One of the best lines I have read in ages.

    • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

      Thanks, Jessica. It has taken me a long, long time to get there.

  • http://twitter.com/HStayingAfloat Hopes@Staying Afloat

    OH I love this!!  You’re story makes you who you are.  You’re darn right it’s your gift.  And I’m so glad you spoke up. I would bet money that you helped her. 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for being brave and being who you are and saying something. What a gift.  And I agree with Jessica, it’s some awesome truth you spoke in that one line.

  • Mamasully

    You’ve got the Awesome, T!

  • http://www.fromtracie.com From Tracie

    The fact that you put yourself out there might not win you any popularity contest with most of the moms (although I’m sure that some of those put-together moms are not so put-together on the inside), but I’m sure it made a HUGE difference to at least that one mom.  That is beautiful. 

    • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

      Thanks, Tracie! :)

  • http://www.thingsicantsay.com shellthings

    I’m sure that you sharing that meant the world to her. 

  • Ladygoogoogaga

    OMG – apparently you are the most valuable member of the group ever – that was a great response!!!!

  • Pauline

    Lovely. I’m sure that made her feel so much less alone.

    • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

      Thanks, Pauline. I hope so. I’m trying to keep an eye on her a bit. Horrible feeling to feel alone.

  • Cristi @Motherhood Unadorned

    I LOVE you for sharing this story, here and for being open with her. I bet she feels way less alone now. It’s sometimes a bit easier to have these moments of strength in sharing online but to do it in person with someone struggling is a huge gift. I’m so proud of you My friend! Xo

  • Jeanie

    How kind and brave of you to open up to a stranger in a room of strangers. 

    • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

      Thanks, Jeanie.

  • bywordofmouth

    You are truly a gift – no matter where your strengths lie … but only in that you have them.  What a blessing you were to a stranger, what a testament to your gift.

  • http://genieinablog.com. Leigh Ann

    Being honest and putting yourself out there is hard. I can’t imagine how thankful she was for your words.

    • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

      Thanks so much, Leigh Ann.

  • http://genieinablog.com. Leigh Ann

    Being honest and putting yourself out there is hard. I can’t imagine how thankful she was for your words.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1378204048 Stephanie Guittard Scigliano

    You should be so proud of yourself for what you said and how supported you made that mom feel with just a few words. You inspired me, and I know I’m not the only one. Besides, I also feel so ill-equipped at times and just can’t admit it!

    • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

      Thanks, Stephanie. I truly appreciate your words.

  • Calichiq529

    If I would have read this yesterday I would have transformed into a shivering wet rag. I was referred to this blog and this story cause I was told I would be able to relate. Boy do I. Although I’m genetically different from this woman I am very much her. I’m struggling through a divorce. My mom left when I was 5. The relationship with my father was just as bad. And here I am. The mother of two autistic boys. And completly alone. I don’t have that motherly instinct and although I try I don’t even have enough knowledge, confidence or self esteem to be the woman I want to be. I’m so lost in a world of abandon. But I’m hopeful because people like you exist.

  • Cynthia Gabriel

    Yes! I know that moment! When someone is raw and real and everyone else doesn’t know what to do. Sometimes the raw/real person just takes the burden off everyone by wiping their eyes and cracking a joke. But I am trying, more and more often, to take the risk of meeting those moments more openly. 

    Case in point: I was at a writer’s retreat run by some famous feminist writers. We were about 30 would-be non-fiction writers, trying to learn how to get published. Many of our writing projects were emotion-laden. Mine was on natural hospital birth, so I was sort of “safe,” but another woman’s project was about her mother’s death from cancer. Halfway through her “sales pitch” to an imaginary editor she started bawling. The room froze. The famous feminist writer said she wished they had hired a psychologist for the retreat. But why do we need a therapist to handle sadness about a mother’s death? I took a deep breath, like you describe, and went over to sit next to this woman and put my arm around her and say, “That sounds really tough.” She cried for a another minute or two. With my hand on her arm, she continued talking. It only took a minute, but I have to believe it felt better to have her emotions noticed and validated rather than swept under the rug.

  • Pingback: no approve

  • Pingback: yes approve

  • Pingback: trackback backlinks

  • Pingback: Superb Site

  • Pingback: Location Bungalow Ile Maurice

  • Pingback: letmewatchthis

  • Pingback: Mauritius Accommodation

  • Pingback: custom challenge coins

  • Pingback: helpful hints

  • Pingback: Discover More

  • Pingback: Visit This Link

  • Pingback: Boiler Repair Services

  • Pingback: Mattresses for children

  • Pingback: talks about it