I’m a part of a lot of mom groups on Facebook. The Faceless Village I like to call it. Some of these groups are local moms I know in real life, others are regional/national and full of strangers, some are about weight loss and nutrition, others about buying and selling baby stuff. When I was pregnant, I was obsessed with these groups and reading all the posts and comments as a way of preparing for The Bump to arrive. Now, I use them to share information with other mommies and schedule play dates. Most of the time I don’t see the posts from the bigger groups because I am no longer interested in seeing the same five questions being asked over and over again (what’s the best stroller, how do I sleep train, when can I start solids, what kind of rash is this, how can I increase my milk supply, etc). So I turned down the notifications on my feed, in hopes of seeing them less. It sort of worked.
Last night I came across a vent from a mom. I don’t usually read the ones with the disclaimer that it’s a “vent”, but I was sitting on my couch, my son had miraculously gone to bed before 10pm and there wasn’t anything on the handful of television channels I get. So I read it. Usually the rants annoy me, and I don’t mean to take away from the women who write them or to discredit their feelings in any way, but I find little in common with the women who are frustrated that their SO doesn’t help more during night feedings, or that their MIL’s doesn’t adhere to their sleep schedule when they babysit, etc. However, the rant I read last night wasn’t about DH, or DD or DS or MILs or SO’s. It was about a single mom who was feeling so low and helpless she was turning to the Internet to vent about a very vulnerable situation. She wasn’t asking for pity or help, she just wanted to get her feelings out. I read the rant and every comment posted.
Thankfully, they were all supportive, some even helpful. It takes courage to put yourself out on the line, to open yourself up to a group of women you may or may not know, especially when there are plenty of mommy-shamers in these groups. I felt for her. No, I felt connected to her. She was a part of the single mom club, a group with no membership cards or I.D.’s, no clubhouse or secret handshake, we don’t wear a pin on our sweater or a ring on our finger to identify one another. Rather, we exist among the sea of moms all trying to do the best for our families. However when I find one, I can’t help but feel an invisible bond. So I posted a positive comment, included a helpful resource I knew about, and noticed she was only a 30 min drive from me so I offered up some extra diapers my son already grew out of and asked her to PM me if she was interested. She did.
As I pulled out the half a box of size 4 diapers in the closet, I looked around for other things I could include. What would I want if I didn’t have diapers, food or money to last me the week? Well, I’d want diapers and food for my baby! So I gathered up a bag of new unopened toddler friendly items I had; diapers, wipes, goldfish, pouches, cereal, peanut butter, avocados, fig bars. I wrote a little card with words of encouragement, included a little cash for milk, and some bubbles and a puzzle for her two boys. “Every little bit helps” she wrote me, and so I will try to help a little bit.
I’m leaving in a few minutes to meet her at the park, and she will no longer be part of the Faceless Village; we will be real for one another. I will not pity her or judge her. I will not give her advice or tell her what I think. I will smile. I will tell her how adorable her boys are. I will let my son play with her sons. I will be open to listening. I will look at her and see her for who she is: a mom doing the best she can when she’s feeling the worst. I will hope her days get brighter and her heavy weight a little lighter. I will hope she leaves the park knowing she is not alone.
I have never had the courage to write to one of these groups to vent or ask for help, even when I wanted to. However, I have been blessed to receive help and kindness in many forms from family, friends and other moms who must have sensed that I needed it. For that, I will always be grateful. I am forever mindful of how I can pay it forward. I don’t have a lot, but I have enough. If I can help two little boys I’ll probably never meet again, feel better today, I’ll know I’ll sleep better tonight when I cuddle my little boy.
It takes a Village after all, even a Faceless one on Facebook.