6.09.2011

authentic parenting–part 3: creating community

Well this week’s post was supposed to be a peaceful home, but somehow I messed it all up and posted what was scheduled for later… but that conundrum actually leads me to what part 3 was going to be anyhow: creating a meaningful community.

I’ve written before about creating community for myself, and much of that post is applicable to authentic parenting as well. Being an introvert certainly makes finding my community harder.

The thing about living an authentic life and parenting in an authentic way is that a lot of people aren’t coming along for the ride. Some disagree with your values, parenting style or life choices, and choose not to be as involved in your life. Others disagree and are vocal about it, so you choose to honor the value of peaceful relationships and let them go. Sometimes people disagree and they remain in your life because of necessity – and it often becomes a difficult, painful relationship or one where there are “off-limit” topics as a peace-keeping method (in my family it’s politics.) Sometimes life has just diverged too much and there isn’t time or topic to retain those relationships. Sometimes people aren’t along for the ride because they don’t know what they value and they’re afraid to take a really hard look at their lives.

The point is, many Mamas find themselves more alone than they’ve ever been, or surrounded by people as a mechanism of parenthood who may or may not share their values. Being around people who aren’t building you up, supporting your values or being lovingly accepting can be as bad as being alone – maybe even worse.

The journey to finding my values as a woman, as a wife and as a mom has led me to drift away from friendships, become closer friends with former acquaintances, and break ties with some. I experienced feelings of isolation and it made me questions my values. But ultimately my values need to be the basis of all my actions, so I had to find ways to build community for myself based on my values.

I went on a community-building rampage. I joined baby boards and parenting groups and attended meetings and read blogs. I talked to moms at the grocery store and at the baby clothing resale shop. But I soon found myself smiling and nodding a lot more than I wanted to, and intentionally not sharing some of the things I’m most passionate about in my life as mama.

So I started writing about my experiences as a mama, putting myself out there so I could perhaps meet others who felt the same and maybe even help some other mamas get through those early months. I was also talking to myself, trying to build a better mama through telling myself what I needed to hear.

When I couldn’t find the right community to fit into, when I was trying so hard to make the mama I was trying to be fit in with the mamas I knew and it just didn’t mesh, I decided to create my own community.

It’s small, and it’s not homogenous. We don’t all have the same values and beliefs about life and parenting. We don’t even all have kids. But you are here with me, my community of people who share, accept, and encourage my attempts to be a more authentic parent.

Building my own community helped to make me more sure of what my values were, and more able to focus on those values. Creating my community allowed me to be a more authentic parent.

Thank you for being my community, for allowing me to keep telling myself what I need to hear, for accepting me, encouraging me, discussing your lives with me and for allowing me to be myself, truthfully.

Have you had to build your own community?

4 comments:

  1. Lovely insight. I think personal communities changes as life circumstances change - moving, marriage, children, new jobs, etc. One thing I value in my communities are people who, yes, lovingly accept me, but also challenge me to see the other side of things. Opposing viewpoints can make me re-think my own, perhaps adjust my own opinions, or even just feel good that I'm doing a great job as is. Of course... this only works if those opposing viewpoints are lovingly and politely shared.... ;)

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  2. So very true! I've had a million little lightbulb moments when a friend asks a question or shares an insight or idea. (Lovingly, of course!) Growing up in the military I was used to moving and re-building communities, even sometimes living in a community that didn't really feel like "mine" because I knew it would be temporary. This life change, while requiring another community to be built and at a time when I am least capable of devoting time to it - is not temporary. This is real. Thank you Amanda, for being part of my community!

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  3. wow-- another great and thought-provoking post! can't keep up!

    best,
    MOV

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  4. authenticity of self - an amazing concept! LOVE IT

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