Recently, a mom I adore posted this adorable quote pic by greenChild magazine (a periodical that love). She is terrific, inspirational and stupendous. Hanging out with her and other moms like her does indeed rock and their advice and council is much appreciated. For the record, I love the quote and the intent behind it. But man did it ever get me to thinking in a whole different direction.
Hanging out with great moms can be so inspiring. The experience of motherhood and the sisterhood that I feel to other moms is something that I cherish. It is so relaxing and wonderful to find a group of moms that you can unapologetically hang out with. Moms with whom you share that unique bond of being a parent and even better when you share similar beliefs about how best to navigate the triumphs and tragedies that abound in your life as Mommy. But it can also be limiting and lead to "group think".
So what's wrong with "group think". On the surface, really not much at all especially if your group is super cohesive and still encourages diversity of thought and if alternative opinions on key topics are welcomed. But when "group think" starts impacting things like your own critical thinking and creativity in decision making, even hanging out with greatest moms can lead to less than great outcomes and down right dismantling, emotional turmoil.
Surrounding myself with great and greatly diverse people has lead me to some of my favorite mommy moments. Some of those great people where moms and some where not. Not to long ago I had a former co-worker stop by for lunch at the house with me and my boys. As I watched her shocked expression as I changed my sons cloth diaper and put on a disposable diaper. I hung my head in shame. I said, "I know I'm only changing 3 cloth a day and truthfully it's1-3 a day depending on the day. I haven't been able to get my cloth diaper mojo back." You see, in my circle of moms, I consider myself to only be mildly crunchy and the fact that I almost completely fell of the cloth diaper wagon for a time is embarrassing to me. At that moment she exclaimed, "You wash that thing ... you wash 1-3 of those things a day ... OMG you are an environmental super-hero but wow that is GROSS!". Watching her responses and the way she interacted and played with the boys was enlightening. When my son started deconstructing his toy airplane ... she asked for a screw driver to show him how to get the thing completely apart. He loved it. It was a great day. We played in totally new ways ... and it's safe to say she did too.
Hanging out with people who have diverse focuses, beliefs and life situations can be hard. This is especially true if they get overwhelmed with the frantic pace of having preschoolers, tots and babies around. Hearing opinions that are not supportive of your decisions just plan stinks. Having to explain your decisions can get old. Getting parenting advice from someone who has no idea just how enormous of a price would be paid that night for letting a toddler just overload on sugar so we could finish our conversation in peace can be tedious. But all of these moments are also opportunities, the gift of new perspective. That perspective can either help you to galvanize your beliefs or help you take new action that you hadn't considered.
Moments of challenge and discomfort inspire creativity and, yes, greatness. No one enjoys things like those terrible glares that come from passers by in grocery store as your child launches the mother of all tantrums. But I have come to look at those moments as opportunities to expose myself and my boys to our world. In those moments we experience the cold hard truth that the world doesn't always appreciate us. I am given the chance to challenge myself to accept who I am as a mom even when others don't. I get the opportunity to show my little ones how to handle uncomfortable moments - and - that other resounding truth, while the world my not always embrace them, I will.
Even though it is valuable and undoubtedly easiest to share the challenges of parenting with great moms who share a similar experience much can be gained and challenged by sharing the experience with others. So this mama is grateful for the awesome moms and all the wonderfully diverse people in my life who inspire me to reach for greatness!