My husband and I moved three times in three years. It was awful. I hate moving. Absolutely loathe it. I hate the packing and unpacking. I hate having to reorganize my life to fit into a new home, over and over again. I hate having to start all over- finding new doctors, libraries, churches, and supermarkets. And I absolutely hate having to find a new community. I hate having to make new friends- for myself and for my kids. But I do it anyway. I have quite a few long-distance friendships, but nothing compares to having friends right in town, so I force myself to step out of my comfort zone.
I am an introvert. I do not like putting myself out there, striking up conversation with complete strangers in the hopes of finding a new friend. The whole process makes me anxious. Just thinking about it makes me nauseous, even though I haven’t moved in three years. But I’ve forced myself to do it three times since getting married and becoming a mother, because community is important and I know I need friends.
The last time my husband and I moved, I knew no one in our new community. It was a brand-new state, and I needed to find brand-new friends. Again. We visited playgrounds every day, and I struck up awkward conversations with strangers. We found the local library, and I tried to sit near moms with kids about the same age as my own. I attended local mom groups, hanging out with women with whom I had nothing in common except for the fact that we all had kids. I tried everything, and it was exhausting. And mostly unsuccessful.
Then, about a month after we moved, we were coming out of church when I looked up and saw a familiar face. She was an old classmate from grad school, and she was new to the area too. Her son was a bit younger than mine, and she was expecting baby number two. I hadn’t even known she was married, let alone a mom. We hadn’t kept in touch after graduation. And yet there she was- another mom like me.
And so God made a community of mothers. It started with two moms with their faith in Him in common. It started small and vulnerable, and it has flourished with a great deal of love and tender care. We have worked hard to make it grow, but we all believe that it was God who made it happen. He brought us together. We were all alone and desperate for friends, for community, and He gave it to us. He gave us the most beautiful community I could have ever dreamed of.
We are all friends now. We shop together, celebrate birthdays together, go out for ice cream together. When one of the moms had a NICU baby, we stocked her fridge and pantry with food, loaded down her freezer with meals, and cleaned her house before she came home with her baby. When one of the moms had a sick child at home, we took turns helping with the other kids and picking up groceries. When one of the moms nearly died giving birth, we prayed and prayed and prayed for her recovery. I know these women would do anything for me, and I would do anything for them.
Our kids are friends now. We take turns hosting regular play dates, and often meet up at local parks and playgrounds. We go on picnic lunches and host ice cream sundae parties on Sundays. Our kids look forward to seeing each other, and count down the days until the next meeting. They go to school together, go on field trips together, learn to swim and dance and play sports together. They are developing friendships that have the potential to last a lifetime.
Our husbands are all friends now too. They pray together and hang out regularly. They support one another in whatever ways are needed. When one of the husbands had a standup comedy show, the husbands all showed up. When one of the husbands desperately needed help watching his kids while his wife was gone, someone showed up at his house within the hour. When one of the husbands needed advice, the dads were ready to talk and pray with him. Their commitment to our community is beautiful to see.
Community is such a gift. We were never meant to parent alone. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. I am so grateful for my village. When I am celebrating, they are there. When I am frustrated, they are there. When I am excited, they are there. When I am exhausted and overwhelmed, they are there. They are always there- with coffee or donuts, advice or prayers, hugs or tissues. Having the support of a community completely changes motherhood. It’s still not always easy, but it’s not nearly as hard when you’re supported by other women who understand you.
Ten years ago, God led two young women, fresh out of college and single, to study at the same school. We didn’t know that God had a future planned for us, that our friendship would lead to a community of mothers when we needed it years later. He laid the foundation, planted the seeds, and then let it grow. We nurtured it, encouraging it to blossom into an incredible group of women who support one another, pray for one another, lift one another up. It was hard work at times, requiring real effort to build up the group, but it was worth it. We were all by ourselves on our journeys of motherhood, and it was not good for us to be alone. So God made a community of mothers.