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.