I Promise You Belong

Hey, you! Yeah, you! I promise you belong here.

I know you’re looking around the room worried that no one has your problems. No one else’s kids are wearing mismatched socks and a little bit of their breakfast on their shirts. I know you are smiling through your worry that you’re underdressed, that you left your straightener on, and that you may never find friends who get you the way yours did in college. Also, I know you left a sick child at home while you came to Book Club tonight. You’re worried about him, too. I know, because I’ve done the same.

I may not tell you this upon first introduction, but I’m the same. I might instead talk about the weather or traffic. I might even talk about how cute my kids are. But inside, I’m just as nervous. I’m thinking one million things; my mind is rarely in the same spot as my body. That’s the mom in me.

But the woman in me is here trying to find a mom friend, trying to see in your eyes the same longing in mine: to connect. To belong. I want another mom to validate me. Our partners can do this in the evening, and it’s important. But, I’m here with you and all these other moms tonight to find more.

So when you mention that this mom thing is hard, I light up inside.

It is hard. So. Hard.

We agree and laugh a bit. That small moment of connection brings us closer. So then I make a joke about kids and how unpredictable they can be. You agree. YOU AGREE! It feels good. I don’t even realize how good it feels until I feel it. We smile and politely move on to talk about the book we’ve all read. But I make note—we connected. I feel hope. You do, too.

Because we’re the same, you and I. We have differences in how we got here, what our daily lives look like, and how we deal with it. But the reason we’re here together is the same. We crave connection and fear disconnection—so much so that we tend to cover up our truths. Yet, it’s always those pesky truths that lead us closer to others.

We’ve all got our secret list: sometimes I don’t want to be a stay-at-home-mom; sometimes I need space from my kids; sometimes I feel lonely; I hate cooking dinner every night; I get so excited when the kids go to bed and then miss them while they sleep; I resent my post-mom body. These silent truths keep us shameful of our lives. Yet as soon as we share them with other moms, they set us free.

This is never truer than when we’re with our mom tribe. And who belongs in the tribe? Every mom. Every single mom you know. Some you click with more than others, and that’s OK. That’s life. But know you belong just as much as the next mom. And when you find yourself sharing your truths freely, you know you have arrived.  

But here’s the danger. We don’t want to seem too desperate. So, we coolly act like we’re busy. We’re good. These adorable kids you see on Facebook are just as precious in person. Sometimes we even go too far trying to pretend that we don’t need each other. We wait to RSVP until the last moment; we don’t want to commit too early. What if something else comes up? What if I don’t have the energy to pretend today wasn’t hard? Eh, I can always cancel last minute and blame it on the kids. But seriously, what is this, high school? Why pretend? Yet, we do. Over and over again. Because nothing seems more pathetic than a mom trying too hard, right? You don’t want to be the mom trying too hard. So we go our separate ways and say we’ll have to hang out soon. We both hope the other makes the next move, but often times neither of us does.

But the truth is, you belong here, amongst the happy, crazy, sometimes miserable moments we share as moms. Your life may be good, but it’s always better with a real mom friend. It’s always more fulfilling to recognize your needs and then go out and get them met. So sit back down. You don’t have to go home just yet. Have another glass of wine and be yourself. I promise you belong.

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