“Everyone has a story,” Jami Kaeb said during one of the presentations I attended. “Who are we to pass judgment?” While I can’t say that the Bible passages that were quoted throughout the day inspired me – seeing real moms who are dealing with the same struggles and challenges that I am did. It’s both refreshing and inspiring to be reminded that everyone struggles, that no one is a perfect mom, and that we are all searching for the wisdom that will help us to raise our children well, without going insane in the process.
On Friday, a small group of my local friends road-tripped (no, not that kind of road-trip…) to Bloomington to attend the Hearts at Home Convention. I wasn’t sure what to expect – I just thought it would be fun. However, I took away more than I anticipated from the convention itself that I think will help me in my mothering journey, as well as in my career. Being able to look at the issues of motherhood that I struggle with every day and see them in a different light can only help to make me a better mother. I look forward to attempting to apply some of the concepts that were discussed in my daily life.
The “stars” of the convention were Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar – the parents of 19 children with their own TV show. They shared a bit about their life story, but honestly, I didn’t find them to be inspiring. It was interesting, sure, but there was nothing presented that gave me goosebumps or that I could take home and apply to my own life. It was the other, smaller speakers throughout the day that had a stronger impact on me. Thinking about how it’s okay to be an imperfect mother, how motherhood is murky and guilt-ridden, and thinking of ways to be a better partner to Mike and develop stronger friendships in order to establish the support system I need were all concepts that I could take away from the conference. It’s good to know and to feel that I’m not alone thinking that motherhood is by far the most difficult job I’ve ever had – and that we are all worried about screwing up our children and making the wrong decisions.
One speaker, Linda Anderson, seemed like she could be me in another 20-30 years. I found myself nodding in agreement with so many examples she gave it was like she was talking to me personally.
After the conference, we went to dinner at Biaggi’s and I was thrilled to run into Jill and Cindy (whom I’d never met in person but feel like I know). It’s amazing how blogs and Facebook make real connections. While I have sometimes felt alone in my mothering, typically Facebook and blogs have been there to reassure me that everything is okay – and sometimes to make me feel bad that I’m not as creative, patient, or talented as other moms – but mostly for the camaraderie.
The best part of the trip really had nothing to do with the conference itself – it was the connections I was able to make within the small group of people that accompanied me. I was able to have lunch one-on-one with Sarah, whom I’d never talked to solo before. It was nice to share and be able to get to know her a little better. At dinner, we were joined by Vicki (Bo’s preschool teacher) and I love that I consider her a friend as well as my child’s teacher – it raises my comfort level considerably. And a group of three of us, Bonnie, Jamie, and myself (yes, there always seems to be two Jamies) spent the night at hotel in Bloomington and went shopping on Saturday. While the shopping was fun, the highlight was staying up late talking about the conference, about what we took away, and sharing pieces of our real life that aren’t apparent on the surface or during the average playdate. Strengthening and growing those friendships will be a benefit that I foresee having a positive impact on my life (and ultimately my kids’ life too).
I know there are many mom’s who would want me to feel guilty for spending 36 hours away from my children, but those 36 hours did more to make me a better mother than I can even begin to describe. And that doesn’t even factor in the positive bonding time that my trio was able to have with Mike, which I also value greatly. I expect I’ll write more about the conference in the coming weeks as all of it solidifies more in my mind.