While most days my neighborhood feels like a charming halo of retirees and wrinkles, I sensed there were other young mothers nearby. The signs of tiny life were tucked away in my memory – a toy left out in the yard, a glimpse of an infant seat being jostled in or out, and once a petite face peering out the window. I had managed to spark lively conversations with many of my elderly neighbors while tromping around on adventures with my two boys; however, I had never matched the timing to run into any of the other moms in the neighborhood.
Even though I am fortunate to have a strong network of stay-at-home mom friends, all of our normal activities like MOPS and Mother’s Day Out had ended for the summer and many of my closest friends were busy welcoming second and third babies into their families. My husband and I were taking a break from our Thursday night small group and regular playdates had become a thing of the past. With two different nap and eating schedules I was always winging it and adult interactions were sporadic.
On top of this, our second son had just spent his first nine months living up to his name, Finley, meaning “fair warrior,” by battling multiple health complications. Three hospitalizations and frequent illnesses resulted in waves of quarantine that left us isolated for days at a time. To say I was lonely is an understatement. I felt prompted to do this sooner, but as with most promptings of the Holy Spirit, I procrastinated until I was low enough to realize how much I needed it. Community was calling and I couldn’t sit inside alone any longer.
I pulled out some glittery pink notecards and markers. I decided on a time and a place and wrote a silly little note that went something like this … “Dear Mama, I am a mama, too who lives on your street. I couldn’t help but notice you have little ones and would love to meet you sometime. I am starting a summer moms group and was wondering if you would want to join?” Now, this did not feel gutsy at the time. It felt more like I was a little girl inviting people to my birthday party, hoping they would come. But thinking back, it was a bold move. When I really started looking, I counted five – yes five – other moms on my street, which blew me away. I wasn’t alone. The next day we took a walk and my 2-year-old helped me place each note into the appropriate mailbox. And then I waited.
Honestly, I was amazed. Within just a few days, I had heard back from four out of the five moms. While only two were able to meet regularly throughout the summer in our “summer moms group,” I started to develop a friendship with almost all of them. One is a working mom with two girls around my sons’ ages. Her husband works late hours like mine does and now we regularly walk to each other’s houses in the late afternoons and hang out or eat dinner together. Another is a single mom with an elementary-aged daughter. My oldest son adores this “big girl” and she has become like an older sister to him. The third mom comes from a different culture with a contrasting parenting approach to mine, but she is the most welcoming neighbor I have ever had. Her door is always open and her son loves to loan his very cool toys to mine. He even has a snake, which may or may not strike fear into my protective mommy heart. But watching that python eat a live rat was the highlight of my son’s week, and quite possibly his entire summer. Boys need that sense of daring adventure! Who knew we would find some of it next door in our quiet, grey-haired neighborhood?
They were just blank glittery pink notecards without an initial purpose, nestled for who knows how long in the back of a closet. I’m pretty sure they were from the dollar section at Target – HA! I never could have imagined the community they could bring. I will always remember this lonely fellowship-filled summer and the lesson it has held for my life. Every single one of these moms has told me how glad they were that I sent them the note. We all need community and are waiting to be invited in. Sometimes it just takes one small gutsy act to get the party started.
Consider starting a small summer moms group and working through our newest Intimacy Collective together.
Jordan Canafax is a stay-at-home mama who loves to run around outside barefoot and get dirty with her two boys. She and her ruggedly handsome hubby love daydreaming together about moving to the mountains.