This morning as I was sat having my morning cuppa I happened upon a post sharing this article labeled – “It takes a village – today’s isolated mum”.
Mums feeling isolated is a subject that is very dear to my heart.
As Katy Blevins is talking about in her article above, we no longer have the collective wisdom and knowledge, of a tight knit and caring community to support new mothers. Instead we have an overload of conflicting information, one-upmanship and judgement.
Reading this article today got me pondering.
I was thinking about times in my life that I have felt lonely and isolated and as you might expect it came down to lack of connection. Well that’s bloody obvious Dany, you might say, but I am not talking about connection in respect of being around people. I am talking about not really feeling like they get me or I fit in. Because actually these days there is plenty of opportunity to connect with other people isn’t there?
Social media makes it possible to find individuals and actually gather in large groups of people with the same opinion as you. So why such isolation? There are also more places than ever that provide opportunity for mums to get together with their kids but this loneliness still prevails.
It can be daunting breaking into new groups can’t it? I personally have often felt uncomfortable in groups and for the longest time I thought that was all about me. And we can all do that can’t we because who are the stars of the show that is our life? We are of course.
So today I looked at two groups that I love being a part of. One is a group of my own creation along with Tamara as it is our Wise Hippo instructors group and the other is a group I have joined recently and almost instantly felt a part of and that is Andy Harrington’s Public Speakers Academy.
Something I have noticed about these two communities is that they are full of people who want to serve and care for others in the work that they do. Both communities are about providing a safe space for people to grow and be themselves. They each help bust negative beliefs and build inner confidence. They have a non-judgemental approach which means that the members of those communities feel able to share what they feel is right for them. In a nutshell they really are my kind of people. Particularly the people I am drawn to connecting with on a deeper level have similar values and beliefs to my own.
This is of course where we really make our connections with others through having similar values and beliefs. It doesn’t mean you agree all of the time or have the same viewpoint but at that deeper level you have a similar view of the world.
I think the ’causes’ that women are fighting for, and when I say ’causes’ I mean things like breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding for example, are getting in the way of finding out if we have a connection on that deeper level. Let’s imagine for a moment that you are pregnant and you’ve just met another two women who are pregnant and you start talking about breastfeeding. They are both adamant that they are going to breastfeed and you are not so sure. Now depending on your personality you may do one of three things:
- Keep quiet and think to yourself these women are not my ‘cup of tea’ and get away from them as quickly as possible.
- Keep quiet but feel disconnected from the conversation.
- Say with confidence that you are going to bottle feed as that is what is right for you.
Depending on what you do causes a reaction in them.
- They may be left wondering why you left so quickly and start thinking of all sorts of reasons why that was, maybe doubting themselves in some way.
- They potentially feel disconnected from you as you are not sharing.
- Decide that you are not their ‘cup of tea’ or you chat about your different opinions and then you move on to other things giving you each a chance to find out if you connect on a deeper level. If you do – great, you’ve made a new friend. If not then that’s fine too, at least you gave each other the opportunity to find out rather than let one ’cause’ stand in the way.
I am over-simplifying this but I hope you can see my point. It is not about everyone being friends because we are all mum’s in it together. It isn’t about agreeing to differ and assuming that we are not each other’s ‘cup of tea’ because we have different view points on something.
It is about putting aside the ’causes’ for long enough to find out if we actually like each other in the first place to become friends or not.
Yes I’d love all the judging to stop but actually those mums are in the minority and if fighting that hard for their ’cause’ is what is right for them then actually that should be ok too. The majority of mums don’t have to be a part of it.
What I want to do is make sure that the majority of mums and mums-to-be don’t get caught up in fighting for a ’cause’ when they don’t really want to. Let’s focus more on creating the spaces for women to feel confident enough to say “this is what I want for my bump, birth and baby journey” so that on an individual 1:1 basis mums can find other mums that they can connect and become friends with on social media and face-to-face. I believe this is how we build villages that work in these current times.
When we live in a village of our own making we will never be the ‘lonely mum in the village again’.
I like to think that our Wise Hippo communities provide a safe space in which to help that happen.