This past weekend I got to meet a bunch of the wonderful people behind the Natural Parents Network. I am so grateful that I was able to get over my fear and attend the gathering!
I love how easy the internet makes it to find your tribe. I originally volunteered to be a part of NPN because I enjoyed writing for the blog carnival started by Dionna and Lauren. A couple of months ago, we decided that it would be fun to meet each other in real life.
It seemed like a fantastic idea at the time, but as we got closer to the day I was a ball of anxiety and excitement. By the time we got to last week, I was extremely nervous. What if they didn’t like me? What if I wasn’t crunchy enough for them? I was really scared, but I did it- I drove up there with the kids and three hours later I was standing on an unfamiliar doorstep.
I felt awkward and shy, unsure of how to talk face to face with the people I spent my evenings chatting with on Facebook. It was overwhelming, because there were kids and toys and people we didn’t know everywhere, but my kids jumped right in to the fray and within minutes they had made new friends. It was a little harder for me, but by the second day I was having as much fun as they were.
I had brought some henna with me, and I enjoyed the opportunity to have a quite moment with each person. I am glad I brought it, because once I was in my element I was able to relax and enjoy myself. Doing henna always zens me out and helps me to find the peaceful, quiet place in my head that isn’t available to me most of the time.
One of my favorite things about henna has always been watching people pick out designs. Yeah it is a decorative art form and meant to look pretty, but I think the designs chosen say something about the person. And I think it is cool that right now, they can look down and see my artwork and think of me.
Everyone was warm, friendly, and kind. We spread blankets under a tree in the backyard and had a long discussion about parenting guilt and failings. We shared our stories, our fears, and the things that bring us joy while our kids ran and played in the warm afternoon sunshine.
I wasn’t able to contribute much, but I listened and learned that we are all more alike than I would have thought. After some hard playing time Cooper asked to nurse and soon he was falling asleep in my arms. With one deft movement I slid him onto the blanket. Shannon was sitting next to me, and I saw her use the same ninja tactics to slide her milk-drunk, napping son onto the blanket beside her.
So that is how I spent my weekend: making new friends that I had already known a long time… And learning that even the crunchiest of crunchy moms is no more perfect than I am. So grateful I had the opportunity to meet such wonderful people!
To learn more about all the members of the Natural Parents Network team, visit our about page. To become a volunteer for NPN, first please check out what we’re in need of, then contact us if you’re interested in helping out. Here’s information about some of our lovely volunteers, including all of those who are writing about the gathering today:
Northwest Gathering Attendees:
Arpita at Up, Down & Natural writes Me And My Ladies ~ First Annual NPN Team Gathering. Also find Arpita on Twitter and Facebook.
Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes.
Midwest Gathering Attendees:
Amy at Peace 4 Parents writes The Value of Parent-to-Parent Support, Truth, Love, and Healing. Also find Amy on Twitter and Facebook.
Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children.
Fabulous NPN Volunteers who were unable to attend: