As we approach the 10th anniversary of our first chapter, CharlotteMommies, I’ve spent some time reflecting on the many things I have learned in the past decade – not just about being a mom, but about being a person as well.
So without further ado, I give you:
Ten Things I Have Learned from The Mommies
1. Friends come wrapped in the strangest packages.
A couple weeks ago, I celebrated my 39th birthday. I’m not gonna lie – this is the first time that my age has bothered me… I felt like suddenly I was on a stopwatch to see what I could accomplish before I turned 40. For the first time in my life, age DID seem to matter.
A friend of mine, in an effort to cheer me up, invited some of my other friends to come and share their stories about CharlotteMommies. She asked me for a list of who I would like to invite and I shared a list of names of friends I looked forward to seeing.
Imagine my surprise when everyone got here and, despite being members of the same website for years, many of my friends had never before met each other. It never occurred to me how varied my friendships were until it was staring me in the face.
It goes to show that your friends don’t necessarily have to look a certain way or play a certain part – friends take many shapes and sizes and serve a wide variety of roles in your life. Don’t be afraid to seek friendship, even if it doesn’t seem to be someone you’d have much in common with – you’ll be amazed at the things you learn when you surround yourself with a wide variety of wonderful, intelligent women!
2.There is so much more to a person that what they let the world see.
Another friend story (there are sure to be more), but an important one all the same:
I’ve been making friends online for almost as long as there has been an online to make friends on. Does that make me a super-geek? Probably, yes… but hey, it got you here, didn’t it? So be kind to me!
One of the things I have learned is that the person you see online is rarely the person you see in real life. Emotions are heightened when you have a screen of anonymity to protect you and your opinions from others. Passions flare and it can easily seem that a person’s sole purpose in life is to re-elect President Obama or rid the world of some injustice. A mom might spend all her online time passionately educating about the benefits of breastfeeding or the perils of fluoride in the public water system.
The worst mistake you can ever make is to believe that this topic is the only thing this person cares about. The most passionate breastfeeding advocate could turn out to be the most sympathetic to a mom who could never make it work. The Obama lover may turn out to be the friend most likely to jump in front of a bus for you. You won’t know until you acknowledge that there is more to them than meets the eye!
A story I like to tell is that of my dear friend. She almost didn’t come to an event at my house because she felt that our political ideologies differed so much that we wouldn’t have anything in common. How far from the truth was that! I am eternally grateful that she didn’t let that stop her from coming, because today, five years later, I count her as one of my dearest friends.
Recently someone shared a blog post with me about how women rarely document the sad parts of our life and choose to document and share only the good moments, or, at best, those trivial upsetting moments that don’t show our innermost weaknesses. Yet we constantly judge each other based upon this perception that we ourselves acknowledge we send out to the world.
The best advice I can give you is to be curious enough to see what is behind the online persona. At the very worst, you will see that you were right. But more likely, you will find that there is so much more there than meets the eye… and may come out with one of the greatest friendships of your life.
3. Moms are like sisters – you can pick on each other, but if someone hurts one of us, watch out!
One of the constant frustrations with running a network of almost 30,000 women is that … well… there is a lot of bickering! We are all very passionate about being mothers and it is very important for each of us to feel like we are doing a good job for our children. When we are faced with someone who does something differently, it can cause a little friction every now and again.