Community || February 2013 From Left to Write Book Club: Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aiken

This post was inspired by Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman. After being kicked out of her widow support group for being too young, Becky creates her own support group with an unusual twist. Join From Left to Write on February 14 as we discuss Saturday Night Widows. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

I use the term "the gregarious introvert" to refer to one of my sons; while he is kind and friendly and happy to be with others - classmates, family, teammates - and he has never met a stranger (he'll talk to anyone, old or young), he has an independent and introverted streak within him.  He needs down time by himself to recharge his batteries and is quite confident and content in his own company.

While he takes strongly after his father Knute in this personality trait, I can see a bit of myself in him as well.   Given the choice between a small gathering of good friends or a big party with a crowd, I'll pick the smaller setting every time.  And sometimes, I just need quiet time by myself as well to clear my head and order my thoughts.

But despite my own gregarious introvert tendencies, there was a point in my life when I realized that I desperately needed to find community.  It was in the fall of 2001, just after the birth of my first child.  I was a new mom, a stay-at-home mom living in a town where we had moved for work only a year prior, and I knew that I would soon go slap silly crazy if I didn't find some other moms of babies and small children to talk to on a regular basis about the harsh realities of navigating this new life called Motherhood.

I lucked out that fall; there was a mom's group associated with our small Catholic parish that I joined.  For the next few years while we lived in that little town in Illinois, having that community of women to depend upon was truly a blessing in my life.

Reading Saturday Night Widows, I couldn't help but think how we women need community, especially when we find ourselves faced with one of the big sea changes of life.  Changes like becoming mothers - and changes like becoming widows.   Finding a community of women who are walking the same hard and unfamiliar path as your own and with whom you can have honest conversations that go far deeper than the usual social niceties can be the difference between facing each new day with either despair or hope.

But while it was fairly easy for me to locate a mom's group to join when that need arose in my life, how challenging it must have been for the author of this book and for the other women who eventually came together to form their own support group - and how much more needed, in some ways.  After all, becoming a mother is generally a happy, expected, and culturally esteemed part of life.  Becoming a young widow?  Not so much.

Even now, two moves away from that little town in Illinois and the mom's group that helped me find my footing as I stepped forward on the path of motherhood, I still find myself needing, seeking, and finding community among women.  I just hope that as my life journeys onward toward events yet unseen and unknown - some joyful, some that are bound to be earth-shattering and sorrowful - that I have the same courage that the women in Saturday Night Widows did; the courage to step outside of my comfort zone, the courage to step into a room full of strangers, the courage to be vulnerable, to be honest, to be a woman of hope.