In the summer of 2006 my little family moved to Gulfport, MS because of a job opportunity for my first husband. We had been through a lot the year before and saw this move as a fresh start.
My ex-husband began working 18 hour days rebuilding the casinos that were destroyed by Katrina. Gabe (my oldest) and I spent most of our time at the apartment pool and then visited with my aunt and uncle on the weekends. I loved these moments with them but felt a strong desire to meet other moms and begin some sort of playgroup.
I began attending the weekly story time at Barnes and Noble and worked up the courage to ask another mom what her name was and how she had met other moms in the area. Little did I know that beautiful Cuban woman would become my “partner in crime” (in a good way, of course!).
We then reached out to other moms at libraries, parks, and even the Chick-Fil-A play area. After 5 months we had created a group with around 15 actively participating moms. Over 3/4 of our members had moved to the Gulfport area within the past year and had little or no local family support.
We quickly became each other’s family, bringing meals to our moms with new babies, scheduling several play dates a week, hosting family get-togethers, and doing fun activities with the kids.
There was also a private website where we created a safe place for the ladies in our group to communicate their frustrations and joys about motherhood, marriage, family, and whatever else we wanted to share. We even read a few books together and had some great discussions.
I spent a year-and-a-half with these women. I dedicated the majority of my time to loving them, rooting them on in the everyday happenings of life, and had found some great sisters to share my insecurities and fears with without feeling judged. And really, they supported me through more than I ever helped them.
I learned so much from each of the women in this precious group and when I look back on our time together I know God orchestrated it all. We were a group of outsiders looking for a way to fit in with a community that was trying to rebuild. And in the process our families flourished and so did our friendships.
Spring 2008 rolled around and Arianna and I were both moving our families away from the area. It was heartbreaking for us and I remember crying during our last family cookout because I knew things would never be the same. We were excited about our new adventures but knew there was a real possibility we would never see our fellow moms again.
I look back on those times and I feel incredibly blessed to have met, connected, and experienced the love from these women who just wanted to be around other moms and feel accepted. We experienced new births, miscarriages, husband job promotions, and baby milestones, TOGETHER.
One of my goals in the next five years is to be a part of a worldwide group of encouraging women who touch others’ lives in ways I never dreamt of 7 years ago. This group helped me take my first step in the process and I didn’t even know it.
We all have to start somewhere, right?!