The ladies of Midshore Mothers’ Center (Massapequa, New York) at their Year End Dinner Gala.
The money gifted to this center through donations, ticket purchases and a silent auction not only
help to support their center operations, but ultimately help provide mothers with the emotional support
to feel confident and strong as parents – something all our groups strive to make a priority.
“What is the best way to meet other moms?”
A couple years ago I was approached by an acquaintance – a new mother who was also new to our community – looking to find other moms to connect with and who asked that very question.
“Of COURSE you need to check out the Mothers’ Center!” I began.
In a short but passionate spiel, I spoke to this new mother of how I have met many of my closest friends through my Mothers’ Center Group. I told her briefly how our group has a calendar of activities for moms, kids – the entire family. I mentioned (ok, emphasized) the fact that we have childcare for the little ones during our weekly gatherings where we discuss parenting topics.
After I concluded, I was caught a little off guard with her response.
She had a follow-up question, one which I had never been asked before. She looked me square in the eyes and boldly said, “Does it kind of feel like you are paying for your friends though?”
I’ll admit, no one had ever said that back to me.
Yes, our group collects dues, however I had never once considered it money to secure friendships. And honestly, I didn’t quite know how to respond.
Silent Response Scenerios
In an instant my mind defensively exploded with reasons why this simply was. NOT. True.
Should I stick to the solid facts? Tell her where our dues money is spent?
- How there is insurance to pay, and
- Qualified childcare workers to maintain, and
- Money that we use to give back to the community and support other families
OR should I attack the question from a more personal angle?
Explain to her how after my second child – when I felt as though I should know what I was doing, but in reality felt like I didn’t know anything – I immediately had a network to turn to through my Mothers’ Center Group. Mothers who listened to my challenges without judgment and who rebuilt my confidence with just a little bit of encouragement and optimism.
~ OR ~
Maybe I should mention the moment I began longing for a “me” that felt a bit lost (after being slightly ambushed by the challenges of motherhood) and share with her how my Mothers’ Center Group gave me the opportunity to seek and grow personal leadership talents that I never even knew existed within me.
These may be things of my past, but these are also real things of other mothers’ futures.
I remember when I felt like I might die of:
- Boredom (after being trapped inside my home during the cold Ohio winters)
- Or madness (due to colicky-like crying)
- Or exhaustion (from night after night of next to no sleep)
I remember the relief that often came with having a few hours of adult conversation after dropping my children off at my own Center’s childcare during our weekly discussion gatherings.
But most of all, I remember that feeling of making a difference in other mother’s lives by taking on leadership roles and continuing my support in other ways – even after I no longer had a need for the childcare, or as much time for social outings, or could maintain consistent attendance at our weekly gatherings due to starting back to work (work I subsequently found through and based on my qualifications gained at my own Mothers’ Center).
I am so grateful for the support I got. And I couldn’t image others not having that support and those opportunities.
No. I definitely hadn’t paid for my friends.
With my dues I had purchased much welcomed support at a time when I needed it most. And I continue to pocket that support for myself (for use during the times when I sill require it), along with dispersing it to others whom I feel might be in need of an extra does of support.
Yet, I didn’t need to be reminded of this.
These are things I could and would never forget. It was the woman staring back at me in a slightly awkward silence that I hoped to convince now.
The Actual Response
Slowly my mind drifted back to the initial question.
The acquaintance interrupted my thoughts by saying, “I guess I didn’t mean to suggest that you paid for your friends? That probably came out wrong… it’s just that the expense seems a little high when friends should be free?”
And all I said is:
“No. It’s OK.”
And I smiled back reassuringly (because having been a part of a Mothers’ Center I had learned to not always jump to conclusions). I understood that every mother is at a different step in their parenting journey.
“It’s just that… becoming a mother brought so much change to my life. And the support the center provided was so much more than just a circle of friends, but also an education, an understanding of reflective listening, a way to build my own network of diverse mommas.” I continued, adding a wink to help lighten the tone.
“Joining my Mothers’ Center Group helped me to feel valued, and it gave my own kids a safe place to go when their mommy needed just a little time off. Because “time off” during the job of motherhood is rare. To me, it was worth it.”
Thus ending a conversation that I will never forget, because for the 1st time I was forced to recognize and recall all I had gained from membership in my local center.
Motherhood is a journey, a journey that should be shared with others and not wrapped up in isolation. I am forever grateful for the support, camaraderie and opportunities having a Mothers’ Center Group in my community gave to me because…
We all need a little support. Every. Single. One of us.
Leave a Comment: How did your own Mothers’ Center Group support you through your motherhood journey? How do you explain why a Mothers’ Center Group is “worth it” to skeptics? If you don’t/didn’t belong to a Mothers’ Center Group, what is/was the most beneficial thing to help you along your path as a mom?
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