If you’ve been here before, you know this is a place for community. It’s the whole drive behind this blog, the membership, and basically every social media presence I have. And, while I have found some great community and connection along the way, I’ve also noticed some gate-keeping – a lot of gate keeping actually.
In small communities, it’s hard NOT to feel a connection and camaraderie. You share many things in common, and you can bond on those things.
When we see other moms struggling with bed times, or knowing what to feed their kids, or losing their patience, we think to ourselves, I understand her. It bridges the gap and creates an instant connection we may not have had before.
The same applies to chronic illness/disability. None of us experiences it the same way, but we empathize with the shared experiences of: lack of energy, feeling like a burden, needing extra help, changes in our abilities, and more. That creates a connection we can share. An understanding others may not have.
Yet, this is where the gate-keeping comes in. Even in these small groups that should be marked by understanding and humanity, there’s a “you can’t sit here” mentality.
It’s the act of saying that someone is too much of something or not enough of something to be part of the group. We have little factors that tell us whether someone is in the group or not in the group. Whether we will choose to bond with someone or not.
And, it’s unnecessary.
What does it take for someone to be part of the mom club? They raise tiny humans, lovingly. That’s it. Nothing else matters.
What does it take for someone to be part of the chronic illness community? Some sort of long term physical or mental health condition. That’s it.
And, what does it take for someone to be a part of the disability community (which can often overlap the above)? It takes a physical or mental limitation that requires extra help, resources, or completely limits certain activities. That’s it.
I am part of all of these groups. I am a mom. I have a few chronic illnesses, and I use assistive resources & won’t be going back to full time out of home work any time soon.
Yet, sometimes I see messages that make me wonder if I’d be accepted in any of these groups.
Am I sick enough to be part of the chronic illness community if I have several good days?
Do I do enough for my kids if I’m relying on my husband for so many things?
Am I disabled enough by not being able to traditionally work for the disabled community?
These are questions I ask myself often. I worry that I’m too well for the illness community and too ill for the well community. I worry that I’m just not trendy enough or active enough to be part of the mom community – and this was even worse when I was unable to breastfeed.
The gate keeping, even in these groups that should honestly be the most encouraging and supportive, is heartbreaking.
What about that new person struggling with their diagnosis? But, only has one medication. They are still part of the community, but what message are we sending them?
What about that new mom who struggles to breastfeed (for whatever reason)? Or that mom who homeschools or utilizes public school? What about that mom who needs extra help for medical or psychological reasons? What messages are we sending them?
What about that person who can’t work in a traditional workplace, but are denied disability? Or the person who only uses a cane occasionally? Or the person who needs compression gloves to help them do things, but need only limited help elsewhere? What messages are we sending them?
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve found some amazing friends (see the Maven Monday series to meet some of them!). I have noticed that there are a lot of amazing people in each of these communities. I’ve also encountered this gate-keeping myself. And I’ve seen it happen to others.
We need to be the change we want to see in these areas. The 31 days journal (which I will actually be releasing as a book soon) includes several prompts about support, friendship, and community because it’s so important. I know if I want to be part of a supportive community of moms with burn out, or chronic illness, or who have kids with chronic illness, then I need to be that community for others. That accepting, safe space.
So, here’s my invitation if you’re reading this:
If you’re a mom – a woman raising tiny humans with love – this is the place for you. Even if we don’t agree on everything, it’s okay. This is the place for you.
If you, as a mom, are chronically ill, or struggle with burn out, or you’re raising a child with special needs (whatever those may be), then this is the place for you.
If you yourself are a woman just trying to navigate health issues, mental health issues, burn out, overwhelm – this can be the place for you too! I talk to moms a lot because I am one, and I know what we need, but this is an open place.
I pray you find connection and community here and on my YouTube channel, and my Instagram. And that you’d consider joining the membership. There’s a free trial and everything. None of us needs to go through this all alone.
God created us for community, so let’s open up the doors to those communities. And, let’s extend this openness to our roles in business and ministry, too. No need for gate keeping or a “you can’t sit here” mentality. There’s more than enough room at the table, so let’s open up some seats.
Share below some things you look for in your chosen communities, both online and in person.