Everyone has lost his or her identity at some point or another. People lose sight of their purpose and who they are for so many reasons. The area that I’ve been most keenly aware of in recent years is the identity of “mama.” When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I was suddenly very cognizant of women losing their identities in their children. This realization helped me have conversations with moms I admired about how they kept their relationship with their children in its right and proper place. For every one of them it was a real struggle to stay focused on both being a mom while also on staying true to their whole selves.
As a mom, there are plenty of opportunities for “play-dates” and “play groups” to attend with her littles, but the lack of support in any other space is truly a problem. I’ve researched more conferences than I can count, and the opportunity for someone to attend who has to consider childcare is more or less nonexistent. Conferences for artists and writers, Christian leaders, and entrepreneurs are all the same—no childcare. Out of the nine conferences I’ve attended, or will attend from 2009 through 2016, there was one to have childcare included for those in attendance. This doesn’t include several others I’ve wanted to attend but couldn’t because of childcare. This reality makes it, for any average family, impossible to attend and therefore very difficult to stay engaged with other humans face-to-face. After the costs of registration, travel, and accommodations, leaving the babes at home with sitters lined up for 3 days? Yeah...no, that's not a thing and it's very sad.
Several hour events are just as guilty in not providing support for moms. Instead of having a space to continue pursuing the passions of ones’ pre-mom life, it’s as though all moms are expected to just…be friends with each other and forget about everything else. Let me be completely clear—I do have friends who are moms. Some of them I had before any children entered the scene, while others I met after children. In all of these relationships however, I didn’t become their friend because they were moms--I became their friend because we had more in common than our children.
It’s important for everyone to have relationships with people in different stages of life. I’m still deeply close to the people I was friends with before momhood, before marriage, and even some before college. Some are married, some aren’t, some have careers, others are in school, some are younger and some are several decades older, and still others are part-time employed, stay-at-home moms—like me. Well, that seems simple enough, right? I have friends already, so what’s the problem? The problem is the ever-existent reality of our complex world and the fact that these friends are far away and are not my community. The problem is making a variety of new friends as a mother. Business owners and event coordinators may all need to take a lesson from IKEA and gyms on this one: childcare is important because moms are important in other ways than in being moms.
This reality is why “empty-nesting” is such a prevalent stage of life. Instead of having plenty of room to continue growing as an individual, and in being the best, most well-rounded parent one can be, moms get stuck at home or hanging out with each other regardless of whether or not they’d be friends otherwise.
Family life is obviously so important and irreplaceable, but it’s only good in its right and proper place in the world. And its right place isn’t the center of the mother’s identity. When I become a seasoned mother and my children are entering their adult years, I don’t want to wonder and fear, “what am I supposed to do now?” I want to be confident in knowing that I’ve loved my children and played with them and poured so much of my heart into them, but I also want to know that I didn’t make them the center of my universe. I want to have full confidence in encouraging them to be their own person and in me being my own person. We are not one, and we were never intended to be one. That’s why I think this is so important; I don’t want to give into this idea that I should be one with my children and that they are my center, my core, my foundation. Moms need their communities to cherish them as people who have passions alongside their passions for their children.
Children won’t be children forever. I’m not raising babies—I’m raising people who are currently babies, but who will very quickly be children then teens then adults. I want to know that when that time comes, I’ll still be a whole person, not only for my own sake, but for theirs and my husband’s and my community’s as well.
This idea applies to marriages, jobs, relationship statuses, and financial statuses too. As humans, we allow SO many things and people and situations to become our center—our identity. I’m specifically talking from the viewpoint of a mom on this though, because it’s the one thing I experience that requires other humans to say, “Hey, this is important. Let’s make sure we hire a company to provide childcare, so moms can be a part of our community too."
I don’t have a coffee shop to feature for this article (The only one I found online that offered childcare has since closed—sad day). But, in thinking about it, if a gym membership is about $20-$30 a month (???), and a mom can take her children into their childcare room as often as she wants, doesn’t it stand to reason that spending $3-$10 every time I sit in a coffee shop, childcare would pay for itself when everyone is spending that much?
My best suggestion on this one is to be the hostess. Buy some local roasts, pick up some pastries and invite friends to your digs, where you know your babes are forever welcome. Additionally, check out subscription options they have over at Bean Box (or your local area). A variety of beans and roasts will be delivered right to your door each month, making it so simple to host a tasting with friends of all stages.
Bean Box | Coming to your home straight from Seattle, WA
(Please do not assume that this post is reflective of the thoughts or philosophies of the above featured shop. Thank you all for joining me.)
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
-A letter from Paul to the Roman followers of Jesus