I recently attended a professional development event on the importance of fostering mentor relationships to move your career forward. As I listened, I wondered whether the same could be said for parenting. I realized that some of my relationships with other moms have definitely shaped and improved me.
While I was pregnant, an old friend added me to her Facebook moms’ group. Unlike some of the other groups I had perused, this one was full of funny, honest, irreverent moms who also had each other’s backs and cheer each other on in a way that was/is unusual for the interwebs. While some of us interact primarily online, a handful of these amazing women have given me serious mom goals.
The Mom Rocking the Teenage Years
I recently asked the group to weigh in on their in-group mom mentors, and Emma* got about a million mentions. As one mom put it, “When I post a tween problem, I pray I get an Emma answer.” Emma has handled the turmoil of teenage life with unbelievable grace and good humor. Whether it be navigating friendship, broken hearts, academics or social situations, Emma maintains the enviable balance between allowing her daughter the space to make mistakes and find her own way with the kind of relationship where her daughter knows she can come to Emma for anything. Case in point, said teenager opted to call Emma from a party at 2:00 a.m. Even though she wasn’t supposed to be at the party, rather than take a ride with someone who shouldn’t be behind the wheel, her daughter called, knowing her mom would pick her up without question. Safety first, consequences later. My girls are nowhere near the teen years—although my almost 4 year old’s attitude seems like a glimpse into a crystal ball— but I hope I am laying the foundation now for that kind of relationship with them (and that Emma writes a book I can keep handy for those years).
The Mom Who Gives Back
Christine* and I gave birth within a month of each other, but it wasn’t until her daughter was hospitalized that I got to know her. The other group members and I would wait all day for an update post hoping the situation had improved. This was also the first time that I saw our mom group mobilize to help a member who was struggling, solidifying that these were my people. Her daughter’s medical journey was long, but even during her own difficulties, Christine started giving back to others. She befriended other medical moms and supported them in their journeys whether it was a listening ear or bringing them a meal. She collected donations for their “home” hospital’s pediatric toy closet and food and personal care items for the parents’ lounge. Having had a kiddo in the hospital for a very short time myself, I found it inspiring that Christine was able to channel that stress and anxiety into something positive for others. She’s my daily reminder to look for ways to pay it forward.
The Mom with Perspective
Melissa* left an unhealthy marriage with three small children in tow and eventually created both a loving, happy relationship with her new partner as well as an amazing coparenting relationship with her ex. She frequently shares her story and experiences with other women in our group who are struggling with leaving a marriage or with managing the coparenting relationship with their children’s other parent. Her compassion and openness to sharing her journey has helped numerous moms experiencing the most difficult phases own journey. She gives great advice on setting boundaries, controlling your own reactions, and keeping the goal of an amicable future in mind. While our experiences have been different, I’ve found Melissa’s advice applicable for navigating through all kinds of different transitions that life throws my way.
There have been so many more moms who have inspired me, made me laugh on a tough day, and offered their unconditional support. I would never have imagined I’d find them on the internet. Be on the look out…You never know where you might find your own mom mentor.
Do you have any unconventional mom mentors?
*Names changed to protect privacy