Recently I sat in the living room of a friend. I held her new baby in my arms as we talked about being moms, working (and going back to work), our health, and more. In the same week I shared lunch with another friend whose son is almost a teenager. She and I talked about our jobs and new paths, raising strong kids, our health, and more.
These friends are part of my circle. My journey in parenting is still young. Parts have been hard. Parts have been amazing. That glorious intersection — hard and amazing — is where the circle makes all the difference. I found a beautiful definition of a women’s circle that describes how I feel about these and other friends (although I wouldn’t limit it by gender). The circle is “an intimate gathering where we learn new ways of speaking, listening, and relating to others,” and further, “it is a place where we discover and integrate new blueprints that serve the [people] we are becoming.” Once formed, the circle becomes a place for truth telling, sacred witnessing, healing, and transformation.
Truth telling, sacred witnessing, healing, and transformation.
The circle creates safe space whether we are sharing the hard parts of parenting, the amazing parts, or both.
One of the hardest decisions for me was whether I could (and wanted to) stay home with my daughter or work full time, or something in between. I worked full time up until my water broke. I told my employer I planned to come back. I needed that door to be open, even if I had no idea whether I would actually walk through it. I shared my thoughts with friends who had trod the path before, and though it didn’t answer my question for me, it helped me hear it in my heart.
We know giving birth is a major physical and emotional event. Expecting anyone to make major life and work decisions within weeks of birth is asking too much. And in most cases, we must make the decision before we even go through childbirth, before we meet our child, and before we know how it all feels or who we are as parents. I remember feeling totally rushed and anxious. I remember feeling overwhelmed and worried. I decided to try and do it all by working part time and staying home part time. I did this until my daughter was almost 3. I got amazing time with my daughter. I lost some ground at work. I straddled the working-mom and the stay-at-home-mom universes. I never felt like I fit in anywhere. Some of that was anxiety. Some of that was my personality. It was amazing and it was hard. I didn’t share much in the early months. I was afraid of guilt and afraid of judgement. I disappeared from my circle.
Now I work full time, and it is also amazing and hard. So my circle is where I go for truth telling (anxiety, jealousy, guilt, fear, joy). My circle is where I go for sacred witnessing (I see you as a whole person, a friend, a mom, a woman). My circle is where I go for new blueprints, healing, and transformation. My circle is small and mighty, and I’m deeply grateful from my heart to my circle.