Looking for Mommies like me

Going your own way is a hard thing to do. A couple years ago when I discovered an internet community of women "like me" (mommy bloggers) I felt that I found a place I belonged. A large group of women who believed in natural home births, homeschooled their babes, grew gardens, ate a plant based diet (though this was rarer), and made their own fill-in-the-blank.

But the farther we go down our family's unique path the more I have an increasing sense of being "different" yet again. Our family is choosing to walk into the wilderness, literally and metaphorically speaking, in several areas of our life. And I see less like-minded mommy companions at my side the farther we go.

Take our family's outdoor pursuits for example; a very literal walk in the wilderness. Sure lots of blogging mommies write about the outdoors and taking their kids on nature hikes, especially us homeschoolers. It's a huge part of the "curriculum". But I don't know many other families, either real or on-line, who hike almost every weekend and structure their weeks very much around this core family time.  

Nor do I find many other homemakers who have chosen to garden less to follow their husband's desire to spend more time in the woods together. Or women who are trying to figure out how to use non-disposable menstruation products while backpacking, never mind at home. And are mentally preparing how to teach these skills to their daughters. Those mamas may be out there but I haven't met too many of them.

And this is just one area that I feel I walk alone. There's the way we eat (I'm not raising chickens, we don't regularly eat eggs), the way we gather with other believers (we don't go to church, we are the church), the way we homeschool (very family based not belonging to co-ops). I sometimes feel so isolated by it all.  

This is not to say we aren't involved in our community, we are. I'm a part of two buying clubs which are collectives of people buying food together, we have a farm share and are actively engaged with a local organization that teaches our community about growing food.

We meet weekly with other homeschool families for play dates and activities, we gather with Christians for fellowship and encouragement and we regularly host friends, family and strangers for meals and hospitality. But being involved in your community and having deep connections with other people are not one in the same

The way we live takes a lot of energy. We invest ourselves each day into building our family and a healthy future for our children. I don't have a lot of time available during daylight hours to connect with people, so I enjoy my (brief) post-child bedtime internet connections.  But even there I am feeling less like I belong. That I am on the fringe of the fringe.  

Do not misunderstand me. I am not seeking pity and I am not complaining.  I have a family life that is rich, sweet and deep. My days are full of meaning and purpose. I have a life partner to love, laugh with and hold on to.  

Nor am I am saying my life is special in any way that other women do not experience.  I think we all have unique living circumstances but I have the perception (probably false) that other people just "fit in" better. Fit in with the norm, or fit in with the fringe. But that they find a community of women and can say "this is where I belong".

Maybe I need to seek less affirmation from other women. From mothers, bloggers, homeschoolers. And be confident right where I am as wife, mother and homemaker. 

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

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  • Annie @ Sister Wisdom

    Annie @ Sister Wisdom on March 22, 2010, 2:15 a.m.

    Hi, I've been reading your blog for a while but not sure I've ever commented! Love the new look. I had to jump to the site from my reader to comment here, because though my family/lifestyle is different than yours, I connected with your thoughts. I can't say I've ever found a group of women I felt like I "fit in" with. I'm interested to see how your other readers respond, because I have a feeling that this is a common perception, that many of us women feel like somehow everybody else is "in" and "gets it" and we just don't somehow. I have some truly beautiful and deep friendships, developed over years, which are based on mutual values but don't necessarily share much in terms of lifestyle. I've learned to accept those differences and enjoy the way we challenge each other. I do still long for that group, that community where I won't feel like, as you said, the fringe of the fringe. The thing is, I'm just not sure it exists. And I guess that's okay. You summed it up in your last paragraph so well. It's lonely to choose a different way. But it's worth it, worth it, worth it. Best, Annie

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  • Molly

    Molly on March 22, 2010, 9:37 a.m.

    I have so much to say in response to your post! Let me start by saying you are not alone! I, also, feel like I am in an environment where I don't fit in. Like Annie, even in this environment, I have found some wonderful friends who accept me as I am and I learn from their perspectives. I am sure, like me, that you are not looking for people who are the same because they see life the same way, but someone who you can enjoy the things you enjoy in life with. I am not looking for someone who has an exact list of interests as me either, but it would be a rare treat if I could find someone who has more than just one or two! I have been following your blog for about a week now, but the reason I began following it is that we seem to have a lot of the same interests. We homeschool our 3 children, I have been a vegetarian for almost 20 years and I lean more toward vegan eating all the time, we find organized religion a challenge for us, and we try to spend as much time outdoors as we can. I'm not sure that our paths would ever align perfectly with anyone else which is a good thing since there is so much to learn from one another and I really respect a person for choosing their own way and not following the crowd. This is the sort of person that I would like to be friends with! I will continue to follow your blog and look forward to learning from you!

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    • renee

      renee on March 23, 2010, 12:15 p.m.

      Molly,

      You said "I really respect a person for choosing their own way and not following the crowd. This is the sort of person that I would like to be friends with!"

      You know, you're right. I am the same way. I really admire people who stand by their convictions and lead interesting lives even if they are not like mine. I like reading strong opinions (even if I don't agree with them). Thank you for reminding me of this. Thank you also for visiting here, I really appreciate it.

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  • exhale. return to center.

    exhale. return to center. on March 22, 2010, 12:55 p.m.

    excellent post renee. lots to reflect on here.

    i'm finding the further along i am in my mothering journey the less i need to have other people in my life who "get" everything i do.

    i have my waldorfy friends and enjoy sharing holidays and handwork projects with them. my roadschooling / homeschooling / unschooling friends whose adventures i enjoy following. my birth network friends who inspire me and get me jazzed up about local political issues. my farm / csa friends. my church friends. my neighbors who we gather with casually from time to time.

    at one time i think i was looking for a small group of people who would comfortably interface in all of these groups with me -- my own tribe of kindred spirits who would see everything as i do and affirm all my lifestyle decisions.

    but that's just not how it is. and not how i would have it even if i could choose at this point. i like the diverse groups i'm part of and the ways i grow and expand by being exposed to different ways of seeing the world.

    thanks for giving me something to chew on this morning while i get breakfast ready for my family...

    ~erin

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    • renee

      renee on March 23, 2010, 12:10 p.m.

      Erin, thank you for taking time from your vacation to comment here.  That I gave YOU something to think about is humbling (I see you as very thoughtful, reflective, inquisitive person).

      I appreciate you encouraging me to appreciate diversity. You are right. I know you are active in your community and travel in different circles so you can relate.

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on March 22, 2010, 1:48 p.m.

    I have been lurking on your blog for awhile. I enjoy your blog because your life is different than mine. I would love to homeschool, but my husband is very much against it at this point and since we have enrolled our children in a wonderful Montessori school that they are happy in, I can't argue it at this point. But reading your blog gives me ideas for enriching my children's learning at home, as I firmly believe that I am my children's primary teacher. I cloth diaper and attempt a paper-free kitchen, but am not nearly as environmentally friendly as you. I am inspired by your commitment to family time in the outdoors. While I don't feel that's our "core," its refreshing to see a family so focused on their personal values.

    I too have felt lonely at times. My husband's job is very different, months away working then months at home. I spend half my year as a single stay-at-home parent and half my year as one of two stay-at-home parents. Very few of our friends have any idea what that is like. I know the feeling of missing out on female understanding and companionship. I think we all know that to some degree. But I do want to say that even if we don't have exactly the same values and lives, I think you're doing a fabulous job. I find your blog to be refreshing and inspiring. Thankyou for spending the time on it that you do.

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    • renee

      renee on March 23, 2010, 12:08 p.m.

      Thank you very much for those kind words and for coming out of lurking to speak them. That my blog is refreshing and inspiring blows me away a bit.

      I can see how your life is quite different from the "norm" also.  Maybe we all feel outside the fringe?

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  • Hillary

    Hillary on March 22, 2010, 2:12 p.m.

    Hey Renee. Thanks for sharing such deep emotions.

    This has been a common theme in my life and I've found solace in realizing that often when I am growing and changing is when I mostly feel this way. So many times I feel like I've "found" a little spot to fit in--only to outgrow it a few years later. It's happened again and again almost to the point where it doesn't surprise me, rather it means I'm moving on.

    I really admire your family's path and am consistently inspired.

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    • renee

      renee on March 23, 2010, 12:06 p.m.

      Hillary, I must be growing and changing. In fact I know things are changing in our lives and I am mentally preparing for those. Thanks for that reminder. That I may not always feel this way but that it might just be a growth phase I'm in.

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  • Tara

    Tara on March 22, 2010, 2:20 p.m.

    How I adore your Blog! I have been following it for about 6 months and look forward to seeing what you post. I find that although I am not like you, I can relate to many of the things you write as a mother, wife, woman and daughter. I can't tell you how inspired I have been by you! . I am in the process of DE-CLUTTERING our lives- scaling down the toys and items that we have to allow for a more simple and thoughtful existence. I have been wanting to do this for a year, but felt motivated after reading your blog and about your own journey. I cloth diaper, use non disposable feminine products- even when camping- (i just have a large stash of cloth napkins and washcloths to clean with, collect them in one of my waterproof, fabric bags that I use to tote around wet and soiled cloth diapers and soak in water and a little borax when I get home before washing). You and your family inspired my family to make the investment in good, winter gear to ensure we are outside in the winter almost as much in the warmer months. We live in New England as well and being raised in a city, cold weather = indoors. Inspired by your family, I made the realization that all it takes is the right clothing and preparation. THANK YOU to you and your family for that!. We used what we had this year, but decided to add it to the budget and take advantage of off season sales. I could go on and on about what I have gotten from your blog- but I think the main thing that I want to say is "Thank you". Thank you for sharing your life and thoughts. I so appreciate the time that you take to share intimate and intricate details of how you and your family exist, the things you find fulfilling and important, and your beautiful photos. You have greatly inspired this CT mom to have the courage to embrace some things that have been in my heart but that I always felt were "too out there" for others to get. Truth is, I find that now, I don't really care about how I am perceived outside of my husband and children and that has been the most freeing. I look forward to reading your next post!

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    • renee

      renee on March 23, 2010, 2:16 a.m.

      Tara, thank you for coming out of lurkdom to comment here (at least I don't recall seeing your name before).  Thanks for the tip about using cloth pads in the woods.  I'd love to chat with more women about these things.  You have the "advantage" of being in the diaper stage also so you're in the mode more. 

      So glad you are enjoying the winter weather and making the most of the seasons.  Life in NE would difficult if we didn't do that. 

      You said "I don't really care about how I am perceived outside of my husband and children and that has been the most freeing." how true.

      Thanks again for your comment it was very encouraging.

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  • texassky

    texassky on March 22, 2010, 3:23 p.m.

    Interesting post for sure. the comments are truly insightful! I am most likely your total OPPOSITE :) But that's ok with me if it's ok with you! The best things about most people are their differences. I have to tell my 3 year old daughter this quite often as she is now beginning to verbalize her explorations of other children at her private, religious school... hehe. I have to tell myself that, at times, too. I think your family's lifestyle is very unique while mine is quite common. I yearn to do things like make soaps and take weekly hikes or have a sustainable farm. However, I am a working mom and I love my occupation (meteorologist.) I appreciate the extra income and so does my family. I struggle with not being able to spend more time with my loved ones, but I have loved ones here at work as well. They are like an extended family! Many times I feel lonely but I always try to remember that God has a place for me. In my loneliest times I can hear His voice the loudest and I am no longer all on my own. BTW: I struggle with organized religion...church. But, I go. And, through missions, I am reminded why I go. Good luck in your search! I enjoy reading your blogs!

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    • renee

      renee on March 23, 2010, 1:55 a.m.

      Thank you texassky for sharing your unique story.  I find it fascinating that even though our lives are so different you enjoy visiting here.

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  • Kika

    Kika on March 22, 2010, 3:28 p.m.

    Alot of us are "outside the norm" or struggle with fitting in to some degree. If you took a cursory look at my life you may feel I am too mainstream for you but you'd be missing our own struggles to live out our core values, to be set-apart, to figure out our place in this world... We're not all called 'to the wilderness' in the same way you are. The reason many enjoy reading your thoughts is because they challenge and encourage us to be equally willing to go figure out who we are/what we want out of life and have the courage to pursue this - even if it means feeling alone or misunderstood along the way. I wish I had a 'kindred spirit friend' here who really understood me but I don't. Still, I appreciate the women who are in my life and I don't want to ever be ungrateful for their love in my life. We each have a unique perspective to challenge eachother with. We are NOT meant to all look exactly alike, eat alike, talk alike... I really don't think that is the point. Furthermore, diversity is one of the most beautiful aspects of creation! We each have a unique role in this life to discover and pursue. Finally, I believe we are blessed to be a blessing. So as you learn and grow and continue to pour out into other women's lives, you are blessing us with your particular (needed) giftings.

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    • renee

      renee on March 23, 2010, 1:53 a.m.

      Thank you Kika for your encouragement and wise words.  Spilling my heart here today was a good thing to do.  I love the perspective all you women are bringing to this issue.  Thank you for reminding me to be grateful for those I do have in my life and to appreciate them. 

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  • Francesca

    Francesca on March 22, 2010, 3:32 p.m.

    I totally relate to your feelings of isolation and loneliness. I've always done things in an unfashionable way in my life and often found myself in situations where I embodied "different-ness" by being foreign, or too young, too old, or the outsider (I went to work abroad when my peers were in college, I went backpacking throughout South America when my coworkers were pursuing careers, I went to university when my friends were starting families ...) It never really bothered me too much, but I have felt that sense of "loneliness for female companionship in the walk". Now, through the internet, I find that some of the choices I made years ago - leaving the city and living a frugal and rural lifestyle - are somewhat shared by many bloggers worldwide. I still don't quite fit in, and often feel that there's a bit of a communication gulf, but there are also strong connections.

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    • renee

      renee on March 23, 2010, 1:51 a.m.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts Francesca and I appreciate hearing about your experience (I love people's stories). I love visiting your blog and seeing snippets of your uniquely wonderful Italian life.  

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  • Jenn

    Jenn on March 22, 2010, 3:41 p.m.

    Yeah, me too! :0) In fact, I have no friends. That sounds pitiful but it's true. At least none in real life. None here, where I live. Only online. We are SO different than everyone else around here. No-one I know has home-birthed. Only online. No-one in my homeschool group eats like I do, in fact, I get made fun of! :( No-one else can conceive of why I do not vaccinate or take my kids to the doctor or why we use mostly herbal/homeopathic remedies. I'm a weirdo! I gather with these ladies not for companionship or friendship even (though some of them are really lovely) I do it for my kids, so they can connect with other kids and have fun. I have nothing in common with any of these ladies except that we homeschool. So no real deep friendships will form. Also, one of my best friends in the whole world moved away from me two years ago...my mom...and I miss her so very much. I don't care if I have like-minded friends in real life, as long as I have my husband and my mom. I'd be just fine! But I lost my dear mom friend and now I have only my husband....which isn't a bad thing... :) I just long for that female companionship sometimes. We don't go to church either, we homechurch but only us...we don't know anyone else who wants to. :( Everyone is really big into church activities here and I just don't fit in there.

    So...long story short, I totally get what you're saying. I do. Even though I don't choose to go explore every single Saturday doesn't mean we don't get out there and explore...just not as often as you. We don't do measley "nature hikes" either...we have stomping grounds, real serious hiking and we love to camp! But I am putting in a big garden this year. LOL There are no farm shares here...we live in the backwoods kind of...in a little town that has no idea all the possibilities out there. I WISH we had some of the stuff you have. I just buy local veggies from farm stands on the side of the road in the good months...:0) I am thankful for the fact that I live in the "Bible Belt" of America and there are lots of believers here...but that is about the only good thing where I live. I am an outsider, I am a freak, I do not fit in and I don't have any friends.

    Sounds so depressing...LOL But we are happy!

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    • renee

      renee on March 23, 2010, 1:47 a.m.

      I don't think you're a freak, I think you're cool. I esteem your lifestyle in many ways and am always amazing at your precious handiwork.

      Oh and I'm envious of your big garden - I love gardens!

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  • renee

    renee on March 22, 2010, 3:43 p.m.

    Wow, so far I am blown away by all your thoughtful, kind and thought-provoking comments.  I like what you are all saying about appreciating diversity.  I love "messy" fields of wildflowers, hanging out with mixed groups of people (age, lifestyle, religious beliefs etc.) and the healthiness of diverse neighborhoods to diverse vegetable crops.  

    I agree we are not meant to look all the same and we each have our own unique purposes and vision about how to life our lives.  The fact that I have inspired some of you to follow with greater intention your own paths is simply amazing to me and very humbling.  Thanks for all the encouragement!

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  • Naomi Kilbreth

    Naomi Kilbreth on March 22, 2010, 4:03 p.m.

    Renee, I know are lifestyles and priorities don't match in all areas, but I believe I do truly understand where you are coming from. Maybe it's just me, but it seems that few people really understand the joy of placing one's family as the highest priority above everything else on this earth. I know people look crosseyed at some (or lot) of the things Glen and I stand for, and I can comfortably count on one hand how many women I truly connect with when it comes to our beliefs. In one sense, that may be good in that it strengthens our relationships with our husbands (if we allow it to) by becoming more and more best friends with them, but it can also feel lonely. Of course I don't have anything wise to offer you, except to encourage you that there are others who feel they are forging a new path, and while it may be lonely at times, for the sake of children and their chldren, it is absolutely necessary. God bless you and your family Renee!

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on March 22, 2010, 4:32 p.m.

    Just read about menstrual products - having used both the keeper and the diva cup - I like the diva cup better - a little easier to use for me for some reason! Back to the issues you raised. Are you happy doing what you do? I find I am happy with the way I live - which is not the way you or many other people live. And it is constantly changing. I'm sure you are the same.

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    • renee

      renee on March 22, 2010, 5:33 p.m.

      I also have used both, I actually own both and I prefer the diva cup but it still leaks. Which means cloth back up which is a hassle on the trail.

      Am I happy? Absolutely.  Both happy & excited about life in general but wishing maybe for more female connections.

      And yes, life does constantly change!  Change is the constant in life (smile).

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  • Granola Girl

    Granola Girl on March 22, 2010, 6 p.m.

    Walden, Chapter 2, "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For"

    I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan- like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to "glorify God and enjoy him forever.

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    • renee

      renee on March 23, 2010, 1:45 a.m.

      Granola girl, Wow.  This quote rocked my world today.  How timely! Thank you, thank you for taking the time to share it.

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      • Granola Girl

        Granola Girl on March 24, 2010, 6:11 a.m.

        I carry it in my backpack, laminated. It goes with me when we do long distance hikes to remind me why I am out on a mountain, in the pouring rain, with achy feet, in the growing dark, and still have three more miles to go.

        Some days (here at home) it works well, too.

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  • Jill Foley

    Jill Foley on March 22, 2010, 7:25 p.m.

    Your post has had me thinking all morning...I think that's a good thing : ) I think many of us struggle to "connect" with kindred spirits. Our family has lived in 3 states in 3 years and that certainly hasn't helped my situation. I have met some great people, but connecting takes time. I have found that the "connections" are beginning just as we are leaving.

    So I, too, can relate to much of what you are saying. Our family values much of what your family values...but we are unique in our own ways. We thrive on weekend adventures in nature. This past weekend, the adventure belonged solely to my husband as he climbed Mt. St. Helens....by Sunday night, I felt as if my weekend didn't happen because I didn't get to experience time in nature. I didn't realize it had become such a part of my life...rejuvenating me.

    But your post has had me thinking about what our family values (Christ, homeschooling, outreach (globally and locally), nature, adventure, simplicity, music, health...) and how we go about each day with these values in mind. Thank you for making my mind work a little harder today, and for all the inspiration you provide your readers.

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    • renee

      renee on March 23, 2010, 1:44 a.m.

      Jill, thanks for visiting and thinking (smile). Totally hear you about being rejuvenated in the outdoors. Hope your husband had a good hike, sounds like quiet the trek.

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  • Amanda

    Amanda on March 22, 2010, 8:34 p.m.

    Hi Renee, I've been thinking of writing to you for a while, and this seemed like a good day to choose to do it. I think I know just how you feel! Though I am on a slightly different path from you, I'm on a wildly different path from many if not all of the people I know in real life and online. I have been "searching" for a long time for a place and a way to fit in and create deeper connections with women friends, preferably in real life, but I'll take them where I can find them. Sigh. Unlike you, I'm also searching for a way to get my husband on board with a deeper and richer family life - he is so focused on singular pursuits, his passions, and spends a lot of time apart from us (myself and our two sons).

    Our family spends a lot of time cross country skiing together all winter (two full days a week, two partial days) but we don't have a family "warm weather" activity that we can spend a whole day doing yet - we all ride bicycles but the littlest is only 4 and can't ride as far yet. He's determined but still has short little legs!

    We do homeschool in much the same way you do, though my oldest is 6 so we are really just starting. And I am trying to figure out how to make my own menstrual supplies...which will make my husband roll his eyes and question my sanity, but I'll do it anyway...

    In a truly bizarre "six degrees of separation" kind of thing - while perusing your blog I recently figured out that I "know" (only through an online connection, we've never met IRL) your sister in law. She and I were on a message board together while we were both pregnant with our first children.

    I love your blog and feel inspired by you often. I make my own cleaning products and laundry soap but have become inspired to do lotions and soaps, all because of you. I'll continue to read and hopefully comment more, and maybe we'll get to know each other. :)

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    • renee

      renee on March 23, 2010, 1:33 a.m.

      Amanda, nice to meet you! thank you for choosing to share your thoughts today.  Cross country skiing! Something I'd love to do more of!  Our youngest is just now starting to be independent on her bike and then I hope to ride around town this summer.

      Which sis-in-law? This one? 

      Thank you for your super kind comments.  And yes, you really must make lotion at the very least. So easy and nice to use. Blessings.

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      • Amanda

        Amanda on March 24, 2010, 12:24 p.m.

        That is the one (sis-in-law)! PS My brother lives in Hermon and my favorite cousin lives in Freeport...maybe one day we'll connect IRL! (I live in VT)

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  • Shannon

    Shannon on March 22, 2010, 10:54 p.m.

    I can definitely relate. We have lived in this area since we were married almost 5 years ago. Still I have no close girlfriends. I believe it is because there are so many aspects of our life that are "extreme" in some circles.

    I know women who cook like I do, but who have no desire to be lead by their husbands. I know women who garden like I do, but who have no desire to be a homemaker. For so long I have felt strange about this situation.

    Recently I have realized that we are all searching for companionship in all areas because we are always trying to justify our behaviors - good or bad.

    That being said, it makes a huge difference to know that you have love and support, especially when your life path is so controversial. We want to live in community with like minded believers, so we are planning our choices around that. But really His way is narrow, not wide, and so I guess it should be no surprise that certain ideas are just not popular.

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    • renee

      renee on March 23, 2010, 1:31 a.m.

      "trying to justify behaviors" - how true! I can totally relate. I want to find others like to me help affirm that I am "ok, normal, a cool person, whatever".  I am reminded to seek affirmation from those whom it matters most from.

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  • Kirsten

    Kirsten on March 23, 2010, 3:49 a.m.

    I am always glad to hear that someone lives their lives with the goal of having meaningful experiences. No matter what we do or who we are, those are the moments that will live on in the hearts of the ones we love far after we are gone. I think that as soon as we try to put a label on ourselves we start to seperate from other people who are living just as soulful lives...even if they don't subscribe to the same daily tasks that we do. Your family is lucky to have someone so in tune with her heart!

    reply

  • nicola@which name?

    nicola@which name? on March 23, 2010, 4:35 a.m.

    first, renee, your blog looks wonderful. each change is an improvement upon the last. i am blown away by the wonderful way you honestly share your feelings. so much of the way you live reminds me of the way my parents lived in the early part of my childhood. i think i told you that my parents went backpacking when my mom was due with my brother. it was part of their regular schedule and lifestyle, so they did it. they just packed cloth diapers and a few other items "just in case" he was born along the way. i love that and so wish we did more of it (although i admit my mom told me if i did any such foolish thing, she'd kill me.) somehow, mike and i, we used to do a lot more of this, but have lost it. we are moving back towards and while my parents are very much an esteemed example, you and your family and your blogging are a huge motivator for me. i admire you greatly and have never thought you out of the fringes. more like the leader of the crowd.

    nicola Which Name? ps. and can i just randomly admit i hate the term "mommy bloggers" and refuse to add that phrase to my mamma CV?

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    • renee

      renee on March 23, 2010, 11:50 a.m.

      You may admit you hate that term! And I won't ever use it in reference to you (smile).

      Thank you Nicola for those kind encouragements.  I like your parents!

      reply

  • lolo

    lolo on March 23, 2010, 4:54 a.m.

    I was so "stunned" to read your comments today! I think,as you realize, many of us feel this way...we are so far off the fringe, that just trying to reach out and grasp it seems surreal! I have felt and lived so different for so long in many ways! Thank you for writing whats in my heart on so many levels! Just some of my differences are...I am 50 years old and still have preschoolers to love! I have grown children, grandchildren, homeschooled children and neighborhood children everyday! What makes me feel so different much of my days is dealing with mental illness in some of my children. When you have a child who is bipolar and a child with asperegers...every single part of your life and day is different! And unless I were to put a sign on thier shirt so that people could understnad their struggles, there is no other way for me to pass off the judgements of others...both strangers as well as friends! My husband says we are running an orphanage for heaven, and i feel honored{on my good days} to do so> But it is all encompassing and leaves no time for fitting in. And then add to that my definite love for "living " outdoors with the boys as much as possible, living in nature, organic, wholelistic, unmaterialistic, old-grayhaired hippi mom who loves to play and laugh, wears jeans with holes in the knees...my knees wear out as fast as my boys!!! Well, you could say I stand out!!!!! Keep living and loving your life....how you spend your days is how you spend your life, and you will never regret following your own inner yearnings for goodness, joy, meaning and clarity!

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    • renee

      renee on March 23, 2010, 12:03 p.m.

      Lolo, wow. Thank you for sharing this part of yourself with us.  I'm honored that such an amazing mom and grandma like yourself would read my piddly blog. You're the one that should be blogging! "an orphanage for heaven" - I love it!

      I also LOVE that you are gray haired.  Don't think I'm weird but I find gray haired middle aged women beautiful and plan myselt to be totally natural at that stage of my life. Thank you for setting the standard.

      "how you spend your days is how you spend your life" - love that!

      reply

  • Candelion

    Candelion on March 23, 2010, 6:23 a.m.

    I definitely feel this way all the time.. As I'm sure you've noticed, I'm not your typical college student. I have a pathetic excuse for a compost bin on my patio for goodness sake! I do not eat ramen or mac and cheese or anything that is in many dorm rooms. I also do not party, drink, smoke, use harsh chemicals, buy expensive clothing, go dancing (this I actually want to do), go to college sporting events, belong to a sorority-- the list could go on and on. However, the list that outlines who I am is equally as long. I want to go to Naturopathic Medical School and have to constantly explain this to anyone I tell. sighs I enjoy acupuncture and bikram yoga and I want to go to Africa. I, like you and your lovely family eat a plant-based diet sin dairy and red meat, so I always end up choosing where a group of friends and I go to eat or what I have to cook, because "I care more.." Give me a break. I swear, it doesn't matter how many times I say it-- we can go anywhere that salad is served and I'm happy.

    So, in conclusion, I feel you Renee, but I'm not sure if we're supposed to "fit in," though the feeling (or illusion) is certainly nice sometimes ;)

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    • renee

      renee on March 23, 2010, 11:54 a.m.

      Well Candelion, you know if you ever visit the northeast we'd love to have you come hang out with us and I can even cook you up some good food (no fuss, no muss).

      I wasn't a crazy college student either. I married Damien when I was 20 and half way through school (that's what you do when you meet the man of your dreams - right?).  My life then became very domestic and I didn't identify at all with usual university scene.  I guess I've always felt out of the loop.  All that to say, I know how you feel. 

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      • Candelion

        Candelion on March 24, 2010, 6:19 a.m.

        Oh Renee, I would be honored to share in some good eats with you all =) Actually, a Northeast visit is not entirely impossible.. My mom has a really good friend from college who lives in New Hampshire. If that time comes, I will be sure to let you know!

        Also, I know you know what I meant, but I didn't mean to generalize about all college students.. I do have some good friends who share similar values. I guess I've just been in the company of some "fun" people lately. And wouldn't you know it, I'm 20 right now and you couldn't pay me to get married. Everyone, my mother included, always says that my sentiments will change when I meet the right person, but I'm still not convinced ;)

        Lastly, I read the comments above about non-disposable menstrual supplies, and I wanted to add that I use the Diva Cup and love it! I think it's one of the best inventions yet. However, you mentioned that yours leaks.. Sorry if no one else wants to read this, but maybe it's not placed right. I had trouble with that too until I figured everything out.

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        • renee

          renee on March 24, 2010, 11:14 a.m.

          Candelion, I have been adjusting the fit, as well as I can. Sometimes it's better than others. Learning to be comfortable with this area of my body has been a big stretch (Ha! no pun intended) for me.

          And yes, you just haven't met the right person (wink). But really now, no rush.

          reply

  • Michelle

    Michelle on March 23, 2010, 7:15 a.m.

    I am an Aussie lurker.

    I have only recently started reading your blog... was lucky enough to stumble upon it. I just wanted to let you know that I have very similar feelings a lot of the time. I too look to the internet for support and encouragement because it doesn't really exist in my world. A lot of what we do for our family well being is based on an intrinsic feeling of what is right for us, even though this often means thinking and acting in complete contrast to everyone else we know!

    When I was reading this blog entry an image of overlapping circles came to mind. I don't think you will find people that fit in with you completely. I think that we are all like overlapping circles, we share aspects of our lives with one person, but share interests and views of another aspect of our lives with someone else. As a result, each one of us is unique and we all find aspects of each other very encouraging.

    I guess that is just a long way of saying how much I enjoy your blog and while I am not on the same path as you in ALL aspects of my life, there is much that overlaps. Keep treading your right path !

    Cheers,

    Michelle

    www.avisionsplendid.com

    reply

    • renee

      renee on March 23, 2010, 11:55 a.m.

      An Aussie lurker - I'm honored! Thank you for stepping out of the shadows to share your thoughts.  I like your image of circles and I couldn't agree more. I will be looking at this situation more in that way.

      reply

  • Leslie

    Leslie on March 23, 2010, 1:28 p.m.

    What a beautiful post. Such personal and deep thoughts. I honestly don't know if I could be so open on my blog site. But I would like to be - it just takes courage. I relate to your thoughts very much. And not in the sense that I am living in the wilderness or doing many of the exact things your family is doing - but just in the sense that our family is very different - and I often feel like I don't fit in and struggle so much to find other mommy friends that I can truly relate to. That really get me, that I really connect with. I think this may be a common theme for moms. But especially when our life choices take us off the beaten path (and for us into Costa Rica working to rescue children at risk). But, it's like you said. It's worth it. It's sooo worth it, and I wouldn't change a thing. I love too how you shared about following your husband. That's what I'm doing too, and he's taking me on the adventure of my life. And though my heart would love to have some deep, close mommy/women friends, we have our husbands - and aren't they the best friends ever? I'm so thankful for him. He really "gets me" like no other. Maybe those deep friendships will be for another season of life? Thanks again for the thoughts. blessings.

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  • Sarah

    Sarah on March 23, 2010, 1:58 p.m.

    You have gotten so many beautiful and poetic responses I'm not able to add much except that we too are gluten/dairy free near vegans who live for the outdoors. We spend most weeks hiking and camping- we home school much like what your approach seems to be. There have been many times when we have felt different- even isolated. Where we are in Montana has many home school families, many hikers, some vegans, but we haven't found many of those combined! So just a cheer for those of us who tread on our own path. . and for those times when it is feeling a bit too much. . .know that you are not alone!

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  • daffodil_lane

    daffodil_lane on March 23, 2010, 2:26 p.m.

    I love this post Renee, and your vulnerability. I'll bet most of these women would want to be your friend in real life. I would too. I don't think whether people's lives allign perfectly is important. Doesn't it come down to character? I have been blessed to finally have one best friend over the last five years. She doesn't homeschool, isn't a vegetarian. I don't really love horses or desire a farm, but she does. She is kind, thoughtful, and loves me despite my faults. I can call her in tears, or laugh like crazy with her. I'd be awfully bored if she were just like me, actually. I hope you will soon find a great friend, but mayber it's possible you are overlooking one you already have! :) -Shawn

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  • old recipe for a new world

    old recipe for a new world on March 23, 2010, 6:15 p.m.

    Like so many of us, I identify with what you've said here. When my daughter was born I had a wonderful circle of new-mama friends and we took our babes hiking every week for a year (we called ourselves the mountain mama social club). As the kids got bigger, some women went back to work, some couldn't carry a heavy child, and we disbanded. I miss tht time of connection with a circle of sisters in the wild, especially now that our little ones can walk slowly on their own through the forest. Also, many of my friends are busy looking for the right pre-school for their two year olds, and in between waves of wondering if I'm wrong for not doing the same, I feel lonely and left behind. In the meantime, my husband and I are on the path to stay true to our desire for simplicity and wilderness, and looking for ways to bring community along with us, and also to be in communion with the natural world that sustains us. Thank you for these thoughts. Kyce

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  • Nicole

    Nicole on March 23, 2010, 7:22 p.m.

    Molly - I think it is your inner goddess telling you that you need to be surrounded by other goddesses once in a while. I just started a New Moon Goddess group - because I was feeling exactly the same way you are feeling. Check out "Sacred Circles" on Amazon - it is about starting a woman's spirituality group. We just had our second meeting - eight woman connected - I only invited one and by word of mouth - these woman appeared and the room was full of earthy, feminine, vibrant energy.

    I write about my inner goddess on Wednesdays - make a cup of something and stop in for a visit.

    Namaste, Nicole

    reply

  • Alisha

    Alisha on March 23, 2010, 8:19 p.m.

    Well, you know, Renee, if everyone was the same, the world would be a boring place. ;)

    I love your blog and where I don't do the same things as you in my diet or my schooling methods, it's always great to see what others do. I'm really bad at comparing what I do with other people thinking I'm not up to par, but you're awesome at keeping it real and not finger-pointing at those who don't necessarily do the same things you do. There are things I look at your posts and your life for mentoring (such as the soap and lotion making :D) that I'm so glad I "know" someone who does that! And your homeschool and life posts on how you do laundry, teach certain things, and all the fun outdoors. They're inspiring! :)

    Plus, the differences make for very interesting discussions. :)

    reply

  • renee

    renee on March 23, 2010, 9:46 p.m.

    Dear Friends, 

    I SO much appreciate each and every comment that has been left here.  I see this is a common feeling and knowing I'm not alone is comforting, isn't that we really all want to know?

    I have attempted to respond to each and every comment because I have valued each one so much and the time it takes each one of you to share your wisdom, thoughts and experiences with me.  But responding to each person is getting out of hand now (I've never had so many comments on a non-giveaway post) and I need to stop for my own sanity. I'm terrible about being compulsive with to-do lists and I don't want to add "respond to each comment" to my mental obligations.

    Thank you for understanding. And thanks for the kind words. 

    reply

  • kyndale

    kyndale on March 24, 2010, 12:15 a.m.

    wow Renee, I think you sparked some emotion here! The thing of it is, I think it's human nature to try and find similarities with people. To find a place to belong. I've found a lot of people on the web that I feel really connected to. None of them are exactly like me but I appreciate that too! Could you do a follow up post?

    reply

  • andie

    andie on March 24, 2010, 7:30 p.m.

    Oh Rene...how can you look for mommy's like yourself when you are so amazingly one of a kind. We all are. Enjoy and love your different-ness...it is so inspiring and beautiful. xxoo

    reply

  • Debbie

    Debbie on March 24, 2010, 9:09 p.m.

    Everyone has already said all that I wanted to say. I think it's obvious that no matter what path we are treading, most of us feel isolated of disconnected in some aspect of our life. You can add my name to the list. I have only 2 'mummy' friends and so many aspects of our lives are different. We are unschoolers (they are not) and believe in natural medicine. (no vaccines or prescription or over the counter meds.)We take a holistic approach to life...which throws A LOT of people. While we do eat a little meat, it's always organic and ethically farmed...and local. We garden and compost and tap our on trees for syrup. Most people don't understand the decisions we make. "But you could just go to Wal-Mart and get that for..." We don't shop at Wal-Mart. We totally boycott it, in fact. That's a lot of unnecessary rambling...I'm sure. Just know you aren't alone. Your blog is so inspiring and you touch the lives of lot of people on a daily basis. It may not be in person, face to face connecting - but it's authentic, nonetheless.

    reply

  • Rachel

    Rachel on March 29, 2010, 3:04 p.m.

    I don't know if you are really looking for a solution or just expressing your feelings. But I have some ideas for a solution

    Your post's title is: "looking for mommies like me" and what I read is that you feel like you don't fit in with the community around you and you're not deeply connected with other women. And you long for it.

    You're designed to long for female companionship and connection because it provides something that a husband or children cannot provide.

    You've listed and described what gets in the way of making that connection. Are they an explanation for the pain that comes with social isolation?

    In my quest to find friendship, I have discovered that all I need to look for is another woman also hungry for friendship. I don't have any friends that are just like me. We have SOMETHING in common, but vast differences in faith, lifestyle, income, marriage, children, parenting styles, etc.

    I think that if you are serious about remedying the loneliness, then there are two solutions -- find someone who needs a friend and who is willing to make the time to feed a friendship and you make the time.

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    • renee

      renee on March 29, 2010, 3:40 p.m.

      I'm actually more just expressing my feelings.  My time is very invested in my family life right now and to be honest I don't have a lot to give to forming new relationships.  If they happen great, but I'm not actively pursuing them. I know wherever there's a will, there's a way so I'm thinking my will probably isn't strong enough, ie: the need isn't that great.

      reply

  • anonymous

    anonymous on March 29, 2010, 10:27 p.m.

    Hi Renee, For a variety of reasons I am posting my comment anonymously - but you can see my email address. :) I haven't been able to read all my favourite spots online recently so I just found this post via Incourage and your comment over there. I just mostly (with no expectation of a comment back! :) ) wanted to say thank you for your honesty. It was very moving to me this morning (tears here.) I heard you and so heard what you were saying - it's not a lack of friends or connections, but sometimes just missing that kindred spirit that knows... It's funny I was actually thinking of you on one of our recent family hikes. My husband likes to say that anyone doing something brave is lonely for awhile. Sometimes a long while. Our paths may be different, but thank you for letting me know I am not alone in feeling how I do. XO

    reply

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