A long line of first years, our freshly-minted grey and white uniforms gleaming in the bright summer sunlight—it’s the first day of high school and I’m new in town.
The air smells like freshly cut grass and sweaty teenagers. I wait nervously; the feeling of unknown possibility looming ahead.
Will I make friends? Will they like me? What will it be like?
15 years later and I find myself anxiously asking those same questions; no one told me becoming a mum is like the first day of high school all over again.
Parenthood thrusts you into a new life you had barely imagined, at least not accurately. Many new mums go from busy full time careers into busy full time motherhood—a never-ending cycle of feeding, burping, changing, settling, cuddling and sleepless nights.
Priorities are altered and time stands still.
In among this mess of hormones, newborn baby smell and nappies, you find your relationships shifting.
Stay-at-home parenthood can be isolating for an extrovert. My journey into motherhood was an emotionally and physically difficult one, and the first months were spent gingerly moving about the house as my body healed and I cultivated a relationship with my son.
I was absorbed by this new, solitary task; but as I recovered and the fog began to lift other relationships came into focus and everything looked different.
New motherhood brings the opportunity to make new friends: new mum friends. From the awkwardness of an ante-natal class (let’s discuss one of life’s most intimate moments with people you’ve never met), to the unknown of turning up at a mothers’ coffee group for the first time.
The familiar refrain echoes: Will I make friends? Will they like me? What will it be like?
These groups can be hit or miss—or somewhere in between. Many friends say they’ve made life-long BFFs in these coffee groups; but others felt they just didn’t gel with the mums in their group.
Someone once said joining the sisterhood of mothers is like being swept up in a river and carried along. This analogy highlights the beauty of mum friends: the shared solidarity.
Along with fresh opportunities in friendship there are changes. Some babies are very portable, especially when they are small, and allow parents to continue social activities as before. But there comes a time when a portable baby becomes an active, crotchety toddler and you can’t take them anywhere!
Without the ease of impromptu coffee catch ups or dinner dates that last for hours I’ve floundered when it comes to knowing how to connect with friends without kids. Honestly, I’ve struggled when I hear well-meaning pastors speak (or write) of how important it is to open your home to people without kids.
My mummy life feels very trivial in comparison to the accomplished lives of people without small children. The daily grind of wiping bottoms and picking up food off the floor feels shamefully inadequate.
If I open my life to you, friends without kids, I worry you will find it small, boring, and uninteresting.
I’ve felt challenged recently, to reach out to those in a different phase of life. The Bible encourages me to show hospitality to those around me: to share my life with others.
When I feel inadequate about my home, my phase of life or what I have to offer I remember Jesus’ exemplary hospitality—the way he displayed compassion, extended welcome and showed kindness—all without an earthly home!
When we show hospitality we emulate God: his kindness and generosity towards us. We can joyfully give and open our lives to others as an overflow of God’s grace. Perhaps if I see my life as small, it is because I am failing to see the richness of what God has given me?
For, if I look deep into the hidden corners of motherhood, I realise I do find great joy and satisfaction. There is such sweetness in a child’s laughter. There is a profound delight in watching a toddler discover the world. There is a deep sense of belonging in being a mother.
Maybe my life isn’t so small after all. Are you willing to share it with me?
Originally posted on Christian Today.