In ways, our lives have become easier than that of our grandparents. Private housing is well available and couples often have two cars to take them their separate ways. We can watch endless varieties of shows that entertain us to our individual tastes without leaving home. More than ever I have friends that consider a “good evening” to be one at home with a remote, their phone, and no place to go. How different that is from when my grandmother was a bride. She and her husband married and moved in with her brother. It deepened the connection they shared for the rest of their lives.
I’m not calling us back to 1940s living. That is a time past and we have many things now that I would never want to give up. Somehow we’ve managed to isolate ourselves as adults. At the same time, we set up our kids with wildly active schedules (gymnastics, athletic activities, dance, music lessons, extra tutoring, cooking, martial arts, multiple languages, pottery, speech). Mothers, lovingly wishing the best for their little ones, enroll them and attend lessons. They spend the day sitting at the side sending photos and having conversations with friends and family via text in the snippets of in-between time and wish for a mom tribe. She sacrifices the time with her own friends to give her children what will be an investment in their future.
When the Pain Comes
The busy lifestyle can be successful when everything is going well, but what do we do when we have a baby? Online friendships can’t bring meals or hold the baby when you need a shower. Soccer coaches rarely know you well enough to recognize when each mom is feeling down. Do dance teachers give a hug or a listening ear to know what’s going wrong in each mother’s life? Music lessons don’t often seem to be with wise older women who have already raised kids and have tons of insight on what was a waste of time, and what they wish they had prioritized better. The solution isn’t to post all our troubles online for everyone to see and have an opinion about.
A “new” kind of Mom Tribe
There is so much talk online of “finding our mom tribe”. Those people who will support and care for us. What if instead of offering it all to our children, we encouraged them to do that ONE THING they are passionate. Could we use the time sitting on the sidelines scrolling through profiles of people we’ve never met, to text the mom we’ve been wanting to get to know a little better to invite her over for coffee?
I get it, you’re busy. Your laundry isn’t done. The house is a mess, but as a mom, it’s probably never going to be perfect. Her house probably looks the same way, and I find most people would rather create friendship than remain isolated because everything isn’t perfect. Invite the older woman from church (or the library) over for tea. These are the kind of people you want to make up the
The True Place of Social Media
By all means, post those photos to the highlight reel of social media. Celebrate the successes of friends, but have them over for a cup of tea and comfort them in the private low moments too. Let’s stop complaining about how much social media lacks authenticity and start creating authentic relationships. Use social media to become more social. Glean talking points by watching what others are interested in. Send a meme to make someone feel special, but don’t let that replace an afternoon shared while watching the kids play in the backyard. When you do this you’re allowing your kids to build their tribe too. You’re gifting them the ability to play with people of different ages. You’re gifting them the example of building community. Teach them to value people for more than what they can give to you.
I’ve talked about before how a “Hug is the greatest gift” we can give our children, but by prioritizing relationships we are also gifting them the beauty of an example of a person living in a vibrant community. We are passing on the tools that they need to be able to live and love well.
Back to the list of Activities
I’m not trying to say to give up all extra-curricular activities but prioritize. As we head into the new year get an actual pad and pencil and decide what is the MOST important. They can’t do it all. You can’t do it all. In picking one thing we have to give up other things. Remember the choice we make for just this semester won’t ruin your child’s life, try something different.
Gentle Minimalism isn’t just about giving up things, but simplifying all things so you can create the best life for all the members of your family. Let me know how you are choosing to give your kids an example of how to live communally.