Finding Your Momtourage & A Peek At Mine!

Mom-tou-rage [mahm-too-rahzh]

Noun.

1. The group of women that preserves your sanity.  And when they can’t, they offer wine.

2. Your personal group of warriors in yoga pants that are out on the front lines with you.

3. The fellow moms you laugh with, share with, cry with, socialize with, celebrate with, and adore.

4. A sisterhood you can rely on to help you figure out and support you through the insanely challenging and rewarding endeavor that is parenthood.

Origins: a playful take on Marky Mark’s show “Entourage”.  When combined with the word “mom”, it creates the perfect noun to name your mom peeps.

Example: “My Momtourage rolls 55 deep and is composed of strong, brave, smart, compassionate, and supportive women that share a likeness of general badass-ery”.

 

Find your Momtourage.  Whatever your situation as you brave into motherhood and however big of a support system you may have, find your Momtourage.  Whether you get put into a Momtourage, make your own, or seek one out.  Find your Momtourage.

Its been 14.5 months since I gave birth to our beautiful daughter, and I’m currently 18 weeks pregnant with minion #2.  One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned along our journey so far is that motherhood is meant to be shared.  There are too many emotions on the spectrum, too many hardships and speed bumps along the way, and too many lessons to be learned to bare it all yourself.

I was the first of my friends to get pregnant.  I went through my pregnancy and the first two months of motherhood feeling pretty alone and unsure about all the changes that were coming my way.  No amount reading can prepare you for it.  Once I was fed up feeling this way, I started my Momtourage.  I created a Facebook group and began adding first time moms in my social network that I knew were the kind of women I needed to surround myself with.  All of our kids were very close in age, and we were all going through the same things together. Over the course of the past year, our group evolved into my safe place. My haven.  Our group grew to 55 moms until we finally decided to keep it at that number.  Not for the purpose of exclusion (trust me, there are more we could add!), but to preserve this sacred community of trust and kinship we created.  Eventually our group began meeting up for play dates (with and without our children), and out of it I’ve been blessed with not only other moms to lean on, but friendships I’ve grown to cherish.

Our few rules were set from the beginning, and while they are simple, they’ve never been broken.  

There is no room from judgment.  Motherhood is hard enough, and you don’t need others judging the decisions you make that are best for your family along the way.  We all make different decisions, and we all respect and support each other in those decisions.  Bottom line.  No two ways about it.  No exceptions.

There are no stupid concerns or questions.  We all come from different backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge bases.  What may be simple to some, may not be to others.  There are no stupid concerns or questions.  Someone’s always wondering the same thing!

Always remember you have someone to lean on.  Whenever you feel alone, most likely someone else has gone through it too. Be open, share, and at the very least… sometimes its just nice to hear a, “I haven’t experienced this, but I’m here to listen and I’m sending you hugs”.  This one usually applies to all 24 hours in a day, too.  There is always someone up in the middle of the night breastfeeding! 🙂

We’ve shared it all.  

Teething remedies, teething nightmares, nighttime routine ideas, activities for rainy days.

We celebrate birthdays, milestones, new pregnancies, and those mom moments that melt our hearts.

We’ve shared the utter devastation of miscarriages.  Only to find that its an experience many have endured.

Those, “No one else will really get it and I just need to vent!” moments.

Products and places we love and can’t live without.

Parenting philosophies we hope to adopt, and the type of parents we strive to be.

Our biggest mom wins, and our biggest mom fails.

The million, “Is this normal?!”s.

How to communicate and stay a team with our significant others throughout parenthood.

Every week we share pictures of our babes and growing bellies, watching them learn and grow.

We’ve shared it all.

A big part of the mom I am today is because of my Momtourage, and a million thank yous wouldn’t cut it.  Being surrounded by different ways of parenting, different choices, and different experiences has deepened my compassion and empathy and reminded me that this journey is so incredibly unique and individual.  They’ve taught my inner monologue to go from, “I cannot believe that mom is doing that!”, to, “I bet she’s got several reasons for that choice.  Hats off to her for doing her best” (aside from potentially harmful behaviors, of course). They’ve taught me to be open to new ways of thinking and ideas I never before considered. And they’ve calmed my nerves and fears on those days that just go all sorts of wrong. No matter how naturally motherhood comes, you won’t know it all – whether you’re a first time mom or a third time mom. Leaning on others and reaching out isn’t a sign of weakness, it means you care enough to do it well and do it right.  As a teacher, its common knowledge that the best teachers are often the best borrowers of ideas.  They aren’t scared to seek out and incorporate others’ ideas that might make their day and the days of their students a little easier and more effective.  Same goes for motherhood.  Use your Momtourage to learn and find inspiration. Surround yourself, through whatever means, with moms you can lean on.  Send messages.  Reach out. Ask to join a group.  Create your own.  Talk to moms at the playground in your neighborhood.  Talk to moms at your grocery store. Sign up for support groups in your area. Surround yourself.  

Now, I’d be acting a little reckless if I just left my advice to “surround yourself with moms”.  It’d be a little too cavalier to imply that any moms will do.  Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. There are far too many out there that are quick on the trigger to judge and offer the, “well this worked for my child, so it will obviously work for yours” kind of advice (or better yet, the barrage of unsolicited advice). There are too many out there that have “done all the research” and just know that their way is the only right way. So be picky.  Be choosy.  Look for those qualities such as compassion, empathy, dependability, and genuine kindness and care.  Seek out those women that do the best they can for their family while letting you do the same for yours.  Surround yourself with the problem-solvers, the ‘think outside-the-box’ers, and the “I may not fully understand, but I’m still here for you” kind of women.  You’ll be happy you did.  I promise.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, be that mom you’re looking to surround yourself with.  Extend the kindness and thoughtfulness you hope to receive from others.  Lend an ear, lend a hand, and lend a shoulder.  Be empathetic, be sympathetic, and remind them that we all have those days.  Build other moms up, and help them find their stride.  Celebrate their successes, and point out and acknowledge their strengths.  Offer your honest experiences and opinions when asked, but remember that not everyone may choose to share them.  And that’s OK.  Let them know they aren’t alone.  Help brainstorm solutions.  Help bring out the best in each other. Share resources.  Share laughs.  Be a source of positivity and understanding to help change the brash mom culture we see all too often.  Even if it’s one mom at a time.

To celebrate the gratitude we have for knowing we have these kinds of women to lean on, my Momtourage was inspired by the “End The Mommy Wars” campaign and put together our own version of their picture project to show our support for not only each other, but for all you wonderful moms out there. There is no one way to be a perfect parent, but a million ways to be a great one.  Meet a few of the women in my Momtourage, their BEAUTIFUL babes and bellies, and enjoy! 🙂 

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Different choices. Different beliefs.  Different children.  Different situations.  The same goal.  To raise happy and healthy children, together through love and support.  

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