Wow, that was a surprising response that I got from my last blog post about marching in the 4th of July parade with Moms Demand Action. It sure was written in a very different and more serious tone than my previous post, which was about the Dave Matthews Band's poop.
I can't believe I was ever hesitant to a.) Participate in the parade with Moms Demand Action; b.) Write about my experience and c.) Actually press "publish." I'm so happy I did all three.
My husband is my pusher, not in the Nurse Jackie sense of the word, but in the best sense of the word. He pushes me to be myself, especially when I am feeling uncomfortable. Like when we left the city, where I felt very comfortable and fit in easily, and moved to the suburbs, where I didn't always feel that way.
When we first moved here, I told him I felt like I didn't fit in with the other moms in our new town. l then suggested very calmly and rationally (read: probably hormonally-postpartum cried), that we move back to the city where I'd be around more like-minded people. He asked me why I was trying to fit in in the first place? And did I really need to live in an area only surrounded by people who thought like I did?
Well, what a silly question, I thought -- it would sure make my life easier. Most musicians or creative types live downtown or in close-in suburbs, wasn't that where we should be, too?
His counter-argument was that maybe I needed to be here, being my own damn self, to give voice to other people who also feel like they don't fit in. Like some sort of Queen of the Misfit Toys, I asked? No, thank you. But I did stop trying to be like everyone else. And wouldn't you know it, my world opened up here in my new hometown: Folks actually preferred the Real Me to the weird, smiling and nodding Mommy Robot I was at first.
My husband was made for this town: he coaches every sport, he volunteers at the kids' school and dammit, he can remember everyone's names! And their kids' names! And their spouses' names! He even remembers their dogs' names. I am always whispering to him, "What's that guy's name again?" and he is always appalled (appalled!) that I can't remember the name of someone whose kid he coached on the football team five seasons ago.
I think I probably would always feel more comfortable in an urban or more progressive environment, but 10 years after our move here, I finally have my sea legs. But when I was asked a few too many times if I actually got paid for performing in concerts or if it was just a fun hobby of mine, I started to feel isolated over the constant juggling act between my home life and my professional ambitions.
Then, I had an idea. What if I became the person I wanted to meet?
Meaning, I wanted someone to call me up, invite me over to sit on their couch with a glass of wine and talk about juggling parenthood and working. Oh, man, how badly I wanted someone to do that!
So instead, I reached out to all the Moms I knew in town that also worked outside of the home -- or used to, or wanted to. And I invited them over to my house, to sit on my couch, drink wine and talk. The ladies that showed up that night were just like me: desperate for this conversation.
That was eight months ago and we've been meeting every month ever since then. We have grown to around 45 women, all from our little Mayberry town, all super interesting, all looking for the same camaraderie that I was. We pick a topic for each month, everyone brings something to the table, literally and figuratively, and we talk, drink wine, compare notes and laugh our butts off.
This group isn't in any way, shape or form part of the so-called "Mommy Wars" because really, who has time for that crap? Not us. There is no time to spend taking anyone else down because we are focused on lifting people up.
I hadn't met some of these women before this group and they are amazing. Smart, resourceful, ambitious, loving, and for me, the biggie: understanding and compassionate about the balancing act of this life. And the most surprising part of these women to me is the fact that they had all been here all along, wishing for the same camaraderie as me.
I applied this same principle of "being the person I wanted to meet" when I chose to march with Moms Demand Action in the 4th of July parade. How I wished someone in town would start this dialogue about gun sense so we could talk openly about it!
My big takeaway from this experience is that there are many, many people wishing for the same thing: for someone to magically come along and start the conversation or to form the group that is needed; to break the ice on these difficult subjects.
If no one else is breaking that ice, you need to do it yourself. Chances are, if you are searching for and wanting something in your life, someone else is, too.
I think a lot of people think gun violence is not "our" problem because it hasn't happened in our town. That is such a load of crap. It's definitely our problem -- we are all connected, we are all affected. It makes me sick, literally my stomach hurts, my heart hurts, and my brain hurts, when I read about gun violence. So don't tell me it's not affecting us in our little town. If it's not affecting you yet, you're just not paying attention.
Since my post went viral (I can't believe I just typed those words considering I just started my blog two months ago), I have heard from 30 moms and one auntie who live locally telling me to count on it, they'll be marching with Moms Demand Action in next year's parade -- there were nine adults who marched this year.
What if everyone did this? What if everyone reached out to their social network and said, "I'm doing this -- want to come with me?" What if we all helped this movement, or any social movement, to grow exponentially like this? I mean, seriously, I'm just one opinionated mom with a brand new blog I barely know how to use and look what I managed to do? If I can do it, you can do it.
Finally, lots of people made comments about my dad and how much they loved his spirit in encouraging me. My dad isn't doing very well right now: Ever since my mom, his wife of 55 years, passed away three years ago, he's been mainly housebound and sad. When I told him what happened with my blog post and what people were saying about him, he laughed. A real belly laugh! He was seriously tickled by the whole thing. And he was proud of me: "I love you, Sweetie" from a man of few words. That's what I'm going to hold closest to my heart about this whole thing.