We are better together….and I’ll go one step further.
We NEED each other.
These two statements may be common sense to the rest of the world, but as a self-proclaimed life-long introvert this lesson has been a long time coming and quite the revelation! My entire life I have prided myself on being able to accomplish goals on my own. Or finding happiness on my own. Or creating solutions to problems on my own. I didn’t like to ask for help or admit to myself that I needed anyone. I was always happy to help others but didn’t want anyone to help me. (Sound familiar?) I would never have allowed someone to tutor me in high school growing up. (And I probably could have benefited from it now and then.) I never once studied in a group in college. I also avoided any kind of sociality in fitness classes. I’d come, stay in the back, not make eye contact with anyone, enjoy the class, and promptly leave. But alas, to the frustration of every introvert, being social is a part of life. Work and school make it inevitable. And I was never horrible at it, with my close friends I actually enjoyed it. But if given the option I preferred to be alone.
Despite this, when I became a new mom, the lifestyle change was a bit jarring. I went from working 40 hours a week, interacting with adults and associating with co-workers and clients, to being with a single needy infant 24 hours a day. Unless I made a conscious effort to meet with other people, the only adult I saw all week was my husband. As a true introvert, that should be right up my alley! And even though I was happy with my choice to stay at home and I loved being with my baby, it was also very isolating. Even for an introvert, it was rather lonely. When I had questions about why my baby went through 20 diapers and 10 outfits in a day, or why breastfeeding was so hard, I was left to me, myself, and I. How does a first-time mother navigate the tricky waters of potty-training without anyone experienced to weigh in?
I could talk to my mom, but she hadn’t had a baby around in 30 years. I could talk to my husband, but he was as clueless as I was. I could ask the pediatrician health-related questions but he wasn’t very helpful with the day-to-day struggles.
My saving grace as a mother came in the form of other moms. Moms who had been there, done that. Moms who maybe hadn’t been through the exact same trial, but who were compassionate and willing to listen. It is invaluable to know that you’re not alone.
These moms were friends in my neighborhood, my church, and old friends from school. Girl’s nights with them were so liberating! Not only did I get a break from being needed, but I got to swap mom-related battle stories with fellow moms while we all laughed at ourselves.
At some point I got thinking, why isn’t there the equivalent to a “girl’s night” for moms online? A group of women who could support each other with no judgment. Who could laugh together at the silly stuff and lean on each other when needed. Who could offer advice with no expectation of “you better take my advice or I’ll be offended!” Hence Strong Moms was born.
Over the last few years, in the course of motherhood, I’ve come to really understand that we are better together. Sports teach a lot of life-impacting lessons like this. In any sport a team is made up of people with different talents. In this analogy let’s focus on the best sport of all…volleyball. Six people play on the court, each with a specific job to do…right-side hitter, middle blocker, opposite hitter, libero/defensive specialist, outside hitter, and setter. Each job is just as important as another or the ball hits the ground and the play is over. No player can hit the ball twice in a row, which means that no player can play alone…at least not for very long.
Any good coach assesses his players’ strengths and weaknesses and puts them in positions that will play to their individual strengths. With a libero, you need someone who can read the ball, get low and return any serve. In a setter, you want someone who can anticipate the other team and place the ball exactly where it needs to go. In a hitter, you need someone who can find the hole in the other team’s defense and get that ball to the ground. If you had a whole team of players who could only play one position, you’d never get the ball over the net, let alone win a single game. Diversity is a beautiful thing in sports.
In the same way, even the best quarterback in the world could not get a touchdown on his own. It takes an entire team…an offensive line to protect that quarterback, a receiver for him to pass to, and so on. Each athlete possesses different strengths and weaknesses.
When we play to each other’s strengths, the way coaches do in sports, we all win.
I think I’m not the only one who is in need of this lesson. Political and social tension has escalated over the last few years, culminating in the disastrous attack on Capitol Hill this past week by fellow Americans. FELLOW AMERICANS. Let that sink in.
Our nation was built by those seeking freedom from tyranny. Freedom not only to choose but to have the precious gift of options. Options regarding faith AND government. Our nation was built by immigrants. Poor people from a wealth of different countries coming together because of a common yearning for a better life. In a nation built on this freedom we fought so hard for, and that diversity of opinion that we fought to preserve and protect, we are attacking ourselves.
We do not have to all think the same way or have the same opinions to create a unified society. The focus should be to have a common goal. Get the ball over the net. Get the football into the blue zone. Create a free society where citizens can live in peace. Whether within a team, a group of mothers, or a nation we need each other. Instead of fighting each other and trying to be heard more loudly than another, we should all be a little quieter and listen. Listen with the intent to understand, not waiting with a comeback. Offer a compassionate heart instead of a mind that’s already made up. There’s a lot to be learned from a group of mothers!