On Moms’ Groups and Glasses
Let’s talk about moms’ groups. Are you in one? Do you want to be?
As a new mom I needed people who were right where I was. All of us almost drowning together, white-knuckeling all the parenting decisions we knew were the best. Laid back older moms – they scared me, mostly because I didn’t know how to do what they did and I felt like my failures were so obvious standing next to them. Now I want those women in my life, mentoring me and helping me. But I also just crave the fellowship of women and I don’t mind your baggage, wounds, or burdens.
The only thing I need now is an understanding that no matter what we’re actually doing there is a reachable goal that is living out the faith as the Church asks us to do. In other words, orthodoxy. And please note that I didn’t say an “easy goal” but a “reachable” one. There’s a big difference between those two and in that room is where we become saints. In that room is where I want to foster friendships.
A couple of months ago I was fortunate enough to spend the morning with the lovely ladies of Morning Star Ministry in Rockford, Illinois.
Guys, they are doing such a great job. Women are invited to spend one morning a month relaxing at a mini retreat. There’s lovely decorations, wonderful refreshments, morning Mass, a chance for confession, music and worship, a speaker, prayer, chatting, free babysitting for those who need it. They’ve thought of everything. (And this coming December 10th they’re hosting it in the evening so working moms can come, too. See! They’re thinking everything through!)
I’m part of two moms’ groups. One is at my former parish and I don’t know if I’ll ever give it up. It’s a mix of older moms and younger moms. We bring food (and keep a stash at the church hall), eat, chat, pray, discuss a podcast or book chapter, and our kids eat, pray, and play too. It’s amazing.
The other one is still pretty new to me. Moms from my new parish, and all of them parish-school moms at that, gather once a week, watch a bit of Women of Grace, and chat while our kids play all over the hostess’ house or our laps. I love it. Recently we’ve been watching episodes where they talk about “the daily duty” which makes us all smile and chuckle a little because: poop jokes.
I think about moms’ groups a lot. What should they look like, what should they do? Exclusive? Kids? Books? Wine? Also, how do we make sure that orthodoxy is understood without distancing those who are struggling with it? And how do we take care to build up the leaders while they build up the rest?
And then, on the most personal level: How will I fit in?
Take, for example, my new glasses.
I’ve been wearing a super old, not the right prescription pair for a few months because the kids broke my last pair. I’ve been wanting a pair of big, thick framed glasses since I was in middle school and loved Buddy Holly, but it wasn’t until hipsters made them cool again + five more years that I finally did it.
The women in my new-parish moms’ groups were the first to see me in them, besides Travis and the kids. Every time I had looked in the mirror I would tell myself, because I’m super lame and talk like it’s still the ’90’s, “These are hipster glasses and you look like a poser.”
The fear that I’m not good enough, the fear that those other moms will see me as totally lame, whatever, as if, the fear that fat Midwestern moms just shouldn’t try for cute and hip made me worried to attend the next group. But instead, those other women smoothed my feathers, ruffled from worry, and spoke to my angsty heart. “Bonnie, you look so cute! I love your new glasses! They really suite you!”they said and I was so relieved.
It felt like they said, “I see you, Bonnie. I see what you’re going for and I want you to know that you’re there. I’m happy for you, friend.” As silly as it may sound, that was when I felt like I finally did belong, like I was a part of them. From that point I have felt like I can go forward with them, becoming more who I am supposed to be while we all support one another in our vocations.
PS – I got my glasses for free from Firmoo. I really do love them and had a really great experience ordering them. The website is easy to use and the customer service was great. All I had to do was get a copy of my prescription from my eye doctor and the rest was easy peasy.
If you want a free pair of glasses you can get some, too, Check out their First Pair Free program!
Reprinted with permission of the author.
Bonnie Engstrom is a popular blogger, radio personality, and speaker. She co-hosts the radio show The Visitation Project, contributes to Blessed Is She devotionals, and is a cradle Catholic. She, her husband, and six children live in central Illinois, and her son’s alleged miraculous healing through the intercession of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen was submitted to the Vatican for Sheen’s beatification. Bonnie bakes a fantastic chocolate chip cookie and blogs at A Knotted Life. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook as well.