Mamas Day 2014: Mamas and Children Thrive Because of Community

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

This is the first post in our Mamas Day 2014 blog series featuring submissions from many of our Strong Families partners. The post below was written by Erin Wilkins from the Family Tree Clinic in Minnesota.

I couldn’t be the mama that I am without my community. Not only do these important people help take care of my kid, but my community helps take care of me so that I can be the mama I want to be. The older my kid gets the more my parenting feels like a collective process in many ways and involving lots of people.

The road of single parenting and co-parenting can feel like a lonely one at times, and having the nourishment and support of the grown ups in our life helps it feel more manageable and actually pretty amazing. Being a parent in this way has allowed me to embrace the idea of interdependence on a level that I never had before. I’m still learning to feel ok with the idea that I need help from other people. I can’t do this parenting thing alone and it is good for us to share the responsibilities with the people who love us.

My kid has a lot of honorary aunties and uncles, and she has a special spot in her heart for all of them. Many of the people who are central to my life and support network are central to her too. The time I spend with the adults I love, away from my kid, is sacred. Having space to take a break, to be listened to, and to recharge goes a long way. By knowing me intimately, my close friends also know my kid in a way the is deeply personal and special.

The support of my co-workers and the place that I work has also been vital to my confidence and happiness as a parent. As a workplace and organization we value family and prioritize our children, and this makes being a working mama so much better. I work with some amazing parents and they provide me with endless encouragement, advice, and validation.

The biggest source of support in my community though has been the other parents, and especially the other queer parents and single parents who share similar joys and struggles as me. Our children have become best friends. We have built up a community of different kinds of families who are collectively woven together by our mutual values and our visions of parenting, childhood, and justice. We gather often to share food and drinks and stories about our kids while they play. They get it. Or a lot of it, at least.

I feel lucky to be raising my kid with this community. My daughter and I make up a two person unit, but we are also so much more than that. I embrace the privilege of being surrounded by people holding us up and helping us to be whole, so that I don’t feel so alone in the journey. So I can feel like a person, connected to other people. So I’m able to feel strong and independent while always trusting that there are people who have my back and my kid’s back. And most importantly, so I can do my best job as a parent.

Erin Wilkins is a queer mama living and co-parenting in Minneapolis, MN. She works at Family Tree Clinic, a community sexual health clinic that has been providing holistic, sex-positive, patient-centered health care and education for over 40 years! Her co-workers are some of the most amazing parents ever.