While it is great to avoid isolation by finding a friend, as explained in the previous blog (Number Three in this series), that’s really only half the story. The other side is to BE a friend.
To be brutally honest, no one does motherhood very well in isolation. Some people do have to do it that way (or did once), and have little choice about it. Just think of lighthouse keepers’ families, settlers in foreign lands, and farmers’ families on huge properties in the outback. I so admire their spirit, grit and determination to do their motherhood job well. But in the 21st Century, thanks to the internet, even those champions are usually not so isolated.
In reality, most modern women are in situations where there are other people around, even if they are not the family, work mates or those they grew up with.
Isolation – personal, cultural, geographical
Having lost my mother when I was 16, and simply because of that fact, I felt a level of personal isolation as a new mother. However, in reality I had a “tribe” around me. They gave me data, feedback, ideas, and resources. Amongst them were the infant welfare nurse, church friends, old school friends, and female relatives.
And the men in my world were also enlightening. Their perspective was always different and interesting. In particular, the dads of family friends had a refreshing point of view, in contrast to my own father, whose old-gen ideas and opinions I’d grown up with.
Personal isolation is one dilemma. But there are also those women who have moved geographically distant from their usual support networks. Perhaps they moved interstate, or to another country altogether. This geographical isolation is another challenge to doing motherhood with confidence and certainty. How do you do that when you really, truly, know no one close by to talk to, befriend or emulate?
While some mothers are physically distant from people, others find themselves surrounded by many people who do not share much in common with them at all. Living in another country is also a factor here – that’s geographical AND cultural isolation. Another form of cultural isolation occurs when you choose a very different life-style to your own family and up-bringing. I know many women who decided to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, contrary to their family of origin. This too brings a whole series of values and perspectives vastly different to their usual family culture.
But YOU can be the change
Sometimes, for the sake of your own survival, it’s important to take the initiative to BE a friend. Search out like-minded people. Look for friends you can connect with via the internet. Go to a local place of worship and befriend other women – young or old! Go to mothers groups, or get to know school families. Instead of allowing isolation to be an ongoing part of your story, change the story. BE a friend!
I could only admire a new mother at my church who went out of her way to connect strongly with others. I realise now, she had a triple-whammy isolation going on. She was newly arrived from another country, contrary to her own upbringing she had recently become a Christian, and she didn’t feel especially connected to her mother because she’d been adopted. How important was it to her to get a strong network going? It was absolutely critical! She became a good friend to me, and to many others.
Being a friend to others, sharing what you learn, moving beyond the comparisons, and being honest with each other – these are all part doing life together. It is a relief to drop the dang defences, and the perfect pretenses, and to be real with each other.
So how do you rock at being a mother?
You find others and BE a friend.
Here are the benefits of being a friend:
1. You receive from the giving
Sharing experiences by being a friend means you end up receiving as well.It’s a WIN all round. Fist bump!
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
2. Others really do benefit
You learn the hard way, often. Teething, toilet-training, tell-tales and tantrums. Sometimes there are no short cuts. But by passing on what you learn, you can provide help, assistance and hope to someone else.
Your hard work and suffering makes more sense when others can learn from you and your mistakes. It’s good to remember there are others doing life tough too. You can give them the love and care they are crying out for.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
3. You re-affirm your own values
By telling someone else your experiences you have a great opportunity to become more firm in your own beliefs, values and understanding of life. Or, you get to hear others’ perspectives and perhaps they have some wisdom to alter your world-view. But it happens in relationship. Actually, it always happens in relationship!
4. You find treasure
There is an old Italian proverb which says, “He who finds a friend has found a treasure.” Yep, there are such good outcomes to deliberately finding friends. Treasure comes in many forms! That’s why it’s a good idea to be a friend.
Who finds a friend finds a treasure.
<Chi trova un amico, trova un tesoro>
What’s your experience of deliberately being a friend to others? Let me know in the Comments below!
Ways to Rock at Being a Mother No. 5: Be Self-Aware>>>