By Rustina, Contributing Writer
Being a mama is an amazing part of my life, but sometimes, it can feel really lonely too. I have family close by, but they are all in different stages or have different lifestyles. I know there are people out there that have similar beliefs and have kids in the same stages, but they aren’t here in my town – I can’t “see” them. The ones I see online, their lives look so perfect and “together,” you know? I am definitely not perfect, and I definitely don’t have it all together (although Kate’s blog How I Went From Chaos to “I Got This” (and You Can Too!) is helping me get on the right track!). I end up feeling lonely and inadequate most of the time – if I let myself dwell on it all too long.
We can feel this way even when we have loved ones around. If their ways of parenting (or their expectations of your parenting) are different, then we feel constantly scrutinized and defensive. No one wants to live that way.
There are two important parts to the puzzle, I think. The first is clearing our own mindset to accept the support you need. The second is finding your own village or tribe to grow in.
Clearing Your Mindset
Having common goals with those around us, helps us feel supported and aligned. If you have to constantly defend your approach, it gets harder to reach out to them when you need a shoulder or a hand. When they feel that pulling away, then they will reach out less also. It is a double-edged sword sometimes. They may not mean to put you on the defense, and you may not mean to shut them down from caring either.
Those who do constantly complain or nag are likely as toxic as aspartame and dioxins. Going low contact or no contact can save you a lot of stress in those situations. This is a lot easier said than done in some cases, but finding a balance that works for you is the best thing for your health.
When our relationships are toxic, it can often leave you in a mindset that isn’t balanced or healthy. Resetting the mindset that relationships should be balanced and mutually beneficial helps us to not feel drained and overwhelmed. Quality over quantity, every time!
How to determine your “open to a village mindset”:
- Take some time – and notes if that is your thing – and consider the relationships in your life.
- Are they there for you when you need help?
- Are you there for them when they need help?
- Who reaches out to the other?
- Is respect shown to the other when there is a disagreement?
- Is respect shown when there are no disagreements?
- Relationships are not selfish, but we are an equally important part of the equation. Here are some more ideas to consider:
- Am I growing and healing from the pains (mentally, in this respect)?
- Am I more stressed today than I was a year ago?
- Am I communicating to loved ones when I need support?
- Think about relationships, not just your own, but those that you observe.
- What do you see that you like, don’t like, or don’t understand?
- How can you incorporate what you like or start weeding out the attributes that you don’t like?
Some ways to gently and healthily “clear your mindset”:
- Spend time with yourself. Think about you sometimes. As a mom, I am always putting others ahead of me. It gets confusing for others (esp kids) to respect me as a person, if I am not showing that respect to my own self.
- Take time to sit and think, do some yoga or qigong, read that book pile, soak in some epsom salt – you need these things too! When we respect and care for ourselves, it shows others an expectation that they too need to respect us. You can’t pour from an empty cup. ❤️
- It’s ok to reduce relationships that can’t grasp the idea of respecting you.
Finding Your Village/Tribe
I never liked the saying “it takes a village to raise a child.” I am a fiercely independent introvert so the notion of “needing” others to do something I aim to do just hasn’t sat well with my soul, you know? That said, I am seeing the stress relief and support of a “village” more as I start approaching the great era of middle age. Having stronger relationships outside of my hubby and my immediate family is something that is important too.
After getting so used to my comfort zone and being an introvert, it has been hard to “find my tribe” or “my village.” The great antisocial experiment called covid regulations, didn’t help either! Although, I do love virtual connections, and one thing it did was bring more people into the online “village” more. Perhaps, that can be considered the only useful thing it did.
Online groups are great for introverts or those who need their alone time to recharge, just let their mind clear (and cheeks relax!). I love people, but I need to have equal amounts of alone time (alone with my kiddos does the job too for me, but it’s ok if you need time solo – never feel bad for that).
Some tips for finding online tribes and in-person villages:
- Find groups that have a similar passion like homeschooling, canning, nature exploration, sewing, art, etc
- Places to look:
- Facebook groups (like our Modern Alternative Mamas! group)
- Ask at local stores (some craft stores have quilting clubs, hardware stores may have beekeeping meetups or do it yourself demonstrations that are great for meeting kindred spirits)
- Local parks – check their social media pages for conversations about meetups
- Places to look:
- Try a search for meetups near you
- Go to local or nearby places like church, parks, activity centers, zoos, or museums to find other people enjoying things that you enjoy also.
- Post in local buy/sell/trade groups or radio broadcasts that you are looking for a group to do XYZ type of events.
Whatever you do, DON’T stress or end up settling for toxic relationships that hurt you and your family. You are worthy of being loved and respected. No one should treat you otherwise. You don’t want to live in an echo chamber, but you do need to be respected, always.