We’re all pretty good at faking it.
If you know us from casual conversations and Facebook posts, it seems as if we’ve got it all together. Our kids are smiling in matching outfits. The latest family outing was a smashing success. Our yards are perfectly manicured, and our homes are spotless. Books could be written about our marriages. We all basically look like 1950’s sitcom families.
|photo credit: DennisSylvesterHurd
via photopin cc
But this is nothing more than a fragile caricature of the challenging and humorous reality facing young families today.
What’s really going on? Our toddler just ate dirt, and picked-up dog poop with his bare hands. It takes all of our energy just to keep the kids from fighting constantly. The house is a complete disaster, and the bathroom hasn’t been cleaned in weeks. The kids behaving themselves in public feels as miraculous as Moses parting the Red Sea. We can’t remember the last time we went on an actual date. It feels like all we do is wipe butts and try not to drive each other crazy.
You get the picture.
Gratefully, my wife and I have discovered a secret. Without this one simple thing, we’d quickly slip into despair and insanity. In fact, it’s made such a difference for our family that we’ve become evangelists for the cause. Convincing someone to give it a try feels like we’ve won the lottery. What is it?
But not just any type of community. Through my wife’s experiences, we’ve found immeasurable peace knowing that our struggles as a young family are perfectly normal. She’s found meaningful connections with other women in the exact same life place. We’ve gleaned ingenious parenting strategies, and have been inspired by the small victories in other marriages. We’ve found deep friendships in the midst of a lonely phase in life.
For us, the rescuing peace of true community came through an organization with chapters all over the country. It’s called M.O.P.S. (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers). My wife’s diverse group of moms from across the South Side of Chicago has been our lifeline (Check out M.O.P.S. of Beverly). These educated, intelligent and inspiring women support each other in ways that make life with little ones manageable. Even though husbands aren’t allowed to attend, we’ve all greatly benefited from the experiences of our wives.
Surviving everyday life with small children is too difficult to endure alone. If you’re doing so, stop it. If you know a young family, convince them to get the support they need. Even though we all love our kids, the support of a community that understands our unique struggles is the best way to find peace. And stay relatively sane.