Motherhood & Community

I’ve been feeling like a lone ranger mom these days. It’s not for a lack of friendships, playdates, activities and the like, it’s just for the day to day work and toil of mothering little ones, I feel quite lonely – and worn out. My mind entertains quite frequently the thought of moving to an African village where I can rub shoulders with other women everyday, and bring up my children in a more communal type setting. There is an oft-quoted African saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I think you could add a second half to the saying, “…and a community to keep the parents sane.” I think modern American home life really lacks in this area.

Patrice Karst is the author of The Single Mother’s Survival Guide. She says, “All through history, women took care of children together. As a culture, we need to stop worshiping privacy and realize we’re tribal by nature.”

Biblical community is something I’ve been thinking alot about lately. Life is not meant to be lived or cultivated in solitude. I’m not sure why our society and our religion has evolved to where we do life primarily alone, and stay at home parenting is set up as something of a burden. We’ve become like silos. At least that’s how I feel.

I’ve been studying Acts this year, and the early believers gave us such a beautiful picture of what Biblical community looks like:

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
Acts 4:32-35

Anyway, I’ve been praying for months and months about what to do. I considered starting a Good News Club since there is a school right behind our house, but after taking some steps to check it out, didn’t feel like it was the right fit. Finally, a few days ago I had a breakthrough and narrowed it down.

We love our neighborhood in midtown Oklahoma City – it’s busy, loud, diverse, colorful and full of wonderful people. We have Latin American neighbors right next door with three kids that we play with all the time. They teach us Spanish, we teach them English. The way we do life differently is so unique, and interesting. We know most of our neighbors that are closest to us, but I want to branch out and get to know other families that are on my block. When we moved here, I had this vision of our home being an open place for anyone to come and be loved, served, and cared for. I want neighbor kids running around playing, I want my kitchen to be stocked with food so I can make meals for people who stop by.

So it feels a little scary, but I’m making step towards this vision, because I know it just won’t happen by itself. I’m starting a big community playdate once a week at my home. Since the weather has warmed up, it’s perfect timing. I’m envisioning blankets laid across my back lawn with books, toys, games. We will have snacks, sing songs, let the children play and the parents/caregivers get to know each other, and hopefully build a community of people that we can know and serve.

I’m blogging about this because I want to know your thoughts – especially those of you who stay at home with young kids. Do you feel a strong need for community like this? What would it look like for you to pursue it? I look forward to sharing more with you soon…my first one is next Tuesday! I’ve already printed the flyers, so there is no turning back now. 🙂

17 thoughts on “Motherhood & Community”

  1. building community is not as second-nature as it should be, huh? good for you for getting the ball rolling in your neighborhood!

    i am a working mom and feel doubly isolated. i feel like there are even fewer opportunities to connect with other moms/families because i spend a majority (well, a good chunk of time) of my time away from home. i’d love to hear how your get-together goes. i might be inspired to do the same in my own neighborhood!

  2. You said exactly what my heart feels every day about isolation, and yearning to live in a community or village where I spend my day rubbing shoulders with other women and mothers. Instead I live in the mountains, in a cabin community where everyone else spends their weekends.Let’s face it, people who can afford to have a second home aren’t generally in the same place in their lives as I am. Their children are grown, and gone, and we have nothing in common. Loneliness will be a part of my life as long as I live here. It is hard, and I don’t believe it is how we are meant to live, to raise children.

  3. Definitely can relate. My husband and I moved to the midwest 4 years ago and started from scratch with friendships. Our church and small group has been a huge blessing, but day to day I’m still pretty isolated. Facebook and blogs seem to replace neighbors dropping by

  4. Great post. And so funny, because I just spent the afternoon following up with some moms about OUR Tuesday community playgroup! I agree with what you’ve written about the isolation that often comes with being an American parent of young kids. It can be pretty intense. Our family lives far from both sets of our parents, and really feel the loss of that when arranging for childcare/babysitting and other kinds of child-related help. Ah, grandparents!

    We’re super blessed to live in an apartment for grad students w/ families. That helps a lot with the sense of community (and there are many unplanned ‘playdates’ that happen outside!). We also really love our church and are lucky to have many young families attending. (That’s who I’m organizing tomorrow’s playgroup with!) I don’t know you in real life but am proud that you’re taking a big risk to start this group at your home! I’m excited to hear where this (and God) takes you. I’m sure there are many others you’re reaching out to who are thirsty for community and will gladly receive your invite!

  5. You hit the nail on the head Evie! I too feel completely alone being a stay at home mom. I have a huge family, great friends and I love my little family more than words can say, but I feel like I’m going to lose my mind! I wish I lived someplace where something like that was possible, it would be such a wonderful break for everybody! God Bless and good luck!

  6. I feel the same way, and perhaps even more so being a non-religious parent. I never imagined that parenthood would be so isolating.

  7. Thank you for this. It is a good reminder to value the community I have around me–and an inspiration to encourage more of it. Can’t wait to hear how your play dates go!

  8. Yes, yes, yes!!!! This is wonderful and I and you a virtual hug of encouragement for stepping out in this adventure! Being a stay at home mom can definitely feel so lonely amongst the chaos! I always feel reguvinated after a morning spent in fellowship with friends and their kids! I may have to follow your lead and start a community playdate in my town!

  9. Thank you for all the encouraging comments everyone. I’m looking forward to letting everyone know how it goes!

  10. I commented on FB. Just wanted to say I enjoyed reading this and being off work and home with the kids, I still feel lonely sometimes and overwhelmed. This was very enjoyable to read and offered some good perspective.

  11. i love all of the flowers and the small that come with in of them.all of the smalls make me think of all the art that i could make.i love the deep bule and purple skys in the evening

  12. I am a Bulgarian mother and feel exactly the same…I don’t know for African villages and villages at all but I am feeling isolated by the big distances that I have with my friends. We moved in new neighborhood and here somehow I hardly relate with the moms to the degree to invite them with families and so on. I think what you do is in the right direction and I would try to do sth similar. At least I could try more for summer, but this sill does not resolve the issue to have some busy kid and happy mom during the day. My kid is in shy period and it is double hard to find friends in the park.
    I should add that this post make me think more for the situation and to feel related with a community even it is somewhere far away or virtual:)

    1. Thank you for your comment, Freja. I feel your pain! It’s surprising that creating community, something that should be so natural, could be so hard. I hope that you find one there, even if it’s just a few other moms that you can relate with and do life with on a regular basis. It only takes a few!
      I hope you will keep in touch, and even though I’m thousands of miles away, feel free to contact me anytime. I would love to hear from you, even if you need to vent to someone. 🙂

  13. I found your blog while looking for drawings.

    I spend a lot of time alone, and yet I rarely feel lonely. Perhaps there are different kinds of people, convivial and solitary. (Probably some in between, too.) Because of the work I do (I’m an artist, a painter) it’s fortunate that I don’t mind being alone since my painting requires significant chunks of solitude. Indeed, if for some reason I fail to get some “by-myself” time during a day, I get cranky.

    My family provides most of my companionship, and a few close friends, and many friendly neighborhood passers-by that I encounter daily.

    I suspect that your longing for company is a sign. Happily, you’re paying attention to it. I think our longings can provide a strong sense of how we’re meant to chart out our lives, if we learn to trust intuition and use it properly.

    The plans that your loneliness prompts you to invent sound wonderful. I hope you find the right balance combining parenting with neighborliness and discover new friends among the people who live near you. Sounds like your loneliness has been working inside your life as way to bring you joy as you reach out to others.

    Good luck!

    1. Hi Aletha, thank you so much for your comment. It’s interesting that I’ve evolved to feeling the need for social outlets/community since becoming a mom. I can definitely relate to you pre-children, I loved solitude, was a homebody, and really didn’t care to get out much. My how things change! But I really loved reading your insight and comments. Best to you!

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