I always wanted to be mother.
I wanted to read What to Expect When You Are Expecting with a round belly. I wanted to muse about preschools, brands of diapers and swaddling techniques with experience with my college girlfriends. I wanted a lifetime ticket into the "mom's club."
During years of "trying to have a child," I longed for my social isolation from my with-child friends to be over.
But our wait was long. Our wait was full of dead-ends and the harsh reality that Kevin and I might not be parents in a traditional way. Our wait included a journey to make peace with the life we had, not the one we wished for (such hard emotional work!)
Life is full of surprises, though. Over a year ago when a baby girl came in our lives with unexpected speed, many might have said about my life "I got what I always wanted."
Or did I? (I really have a hard time with that sentiment).
This is what I know: I love my daughter. I love that infertility is not a daily part of my struggle anymore (victories need to be celebrated!). And, I love I can now shop at Babies R Us without a stomach ache afterwards. I'm a parent. It's a fact.
Though I never read What to Expect When You Are Expecting, I'm a diaper changing pro. I've gotten good at taking a car seat a part when spit-up happens. And I love giving baby girl a bath and lathering her up with the sweetness that is baby lotion at the end of a long day. It's a good life I have in this season. Parenting is more joy (and work) than I ever thought possible.
But, when it comes to being a part of communities of moms, I have to tell you all my rosy dreams of playdates and Mom's Day Out coffee dates just aren't a part of my current reality.
Parenting circles aren't natural places where I feel like I fit in. Maybe it's because of the years it took me to get here. Maybe it's for other reasons. Here's one story.
Baby girl was 8 months old. She was invited to her first birthday party.
Though 8 months seemed too soon for the whole "bring a present" and "eat some cake routine" to me, I went along with it. I bought her a present to take the 5-year-old that she met through her babysitter. I packed her bag with baby food and I looked forward to the treat of pizza and cake.
But while there were expected kids party antics of balloons and games, what followed was weird.
I hardly had two feet in the door, no, "Hello." No "What's your's name?" Or even, "What do you do?"
Rather right to: "Does your girl sleep through the night yet?" And when I said, "Yes, she does" the rest of the conversation was a game of 20 questions about this and that behavior of hers.
I quickly made my way to the pizza table trying to escape the questioning but it continued later. This group of parents felt relentless. It was as if children in the room meant having adult conversation was impossible. I wanted adult conversation.
I took way from the experience that what my soul needed during my waiting for children years is the same thing my soul needs now.
I need friends who see me . . . Who allow me to see them . . . Who help shine light into my becoming and I theirs.
I don't need a mom's group just because I'm a married woman in my 30s with a child.
I need to be seen and heard.
This was one huge reality check for me to reach this place. It's a little bit embarrassing how much energy I spent longing for what I believed I wanted in community only now to be here and not want it at all.
This is not to say that I'm anti-mom friends. I have some. I'm sure I'll make more as baby girl grows older.
But I can tell you with complete certainty that I need soul friends, not affinity ones.
The next time I find myself in a season of longing for inclusion in greener pastures of where I'm not yet, I'm going to remember this birthday party.
I'm going to remember what my soul really needs and I'm going to move in that direction.
I'm going to trust that being the parent I want to be means taking care of my spirit.
After all, I want baby girl to grow up and have courage to take care of hers too. It's all that we can really do, anyway.
Want me to speak to your group about infertility, grief or making peace with a life you don't want? Contact me.