I had what very few mothers have. A No Judge Zone.
It seems these days as if being a mother has become a competitive sport. One is loathe to raise a worry or admit a failure for fear of stirring a storm of suggestions and ‘I have it worse’ stories. If you have a problem, the person you tell it to will have a worse one. Your job is to minimize and stand back if you can’t properly one-up the other mothers in your circle.
Every mom is compared to the next. I am better, worse, more unhappy, more competent, less career-oriented, more informed, better equipped and less loving than you.
The blogosphere is full of mothers who are so in love with their children one wonders how they can breathe successive breaths without fainting and mothers whose motherhood caught them so totally by surprise and so unable to cope that they are forced to spend hours telling us about their angst, presumably while their children watch TV or whatever it is unsupervised children do. Do we want to know?
But when my younger three children were little, I had my No Judge Zone. It was the Nica Moms. A group of women who had all adopted children from the same orphanage in Nicaragua. Some of our children knew each other in the orphanage; my son’s crib was next to another woman’s daughter’s. They knew each other before they knew us.
As one child and then another and another came to families in our town from Managua, we started to band together. For a long time, we would meet. The Nica Moms we called ourselves. We didn’t have rules but we followed them anyway. These were the rules, I think:
Our children were orphans who had been abandoned and had lived in an institution for varying amounts of time. They had a host of problems – physical, cognitive, emotional. They grew from adorable toddlers into kids with real challenges and the challenges deepened as they became teenagers and young adults. Much of this took us, the Nica Moms, by surprise. We thought that getting our kids healthy and settled would be a quick process but their needs were deeper and longer than we had planned.
Many of us had some very rough times. Sometimes, we tried to go it alone. When we were smart, we relied on each other.
To me, the greatest gift of the Nica Moms was the ability to say as a mother:
I am lost.
I am failing.
I am tired.
And not be judged. And then be able to say:
I am hopeful.
I am glad.
And not be judged.
What a rich blessing this was. How I wish every mom had a resting place like this.