When I had my daughter Annabell, I wanted to be a mother but not associated as one.
This meant that I had no desire to hangout with other mothers or fathers, join any parenthood groups or do anything parent related. Instead, I wished to prove that I could continue to be the same Anna that existed before Anna the mother did.
At the core of this was fear. I was scared that other parents would see right through me and discover that I had no idea what I was doing as a new mom. So instead of seeking companionship in other parents, I befriended fear instead of connection.
It wasn’t until I was invited to lead a meditation at an event for mothers that this all changed.
The event was supposed to be set up like a panel but when only a handful of mother’s arrived we decided last minute to pull all the chairs into an intimate circle instead.
The event kicked off as planned. I lead my meditation and then the four women on the panel were interviewed one by one.
As the panel discussion came to a close, the moderator opened up the floor to the remaining women in the circle – asking if anyone had questions or additional topics that they’d like to discuss.
Within minutes the room became filled with both laughter and tears. The women on the panel merged with the women in the audience and together, in a circle, they began sharing stories of parenthood – the hysterical moments, the scary ones and the beautiful ones too.
When I left the event that evening, I felt more connected to myself as a mother than ever before. Through storytelling, the women in that circle helped me understand my own experiences and allowed me to feel the benefits of community during this time in my life.
That evening is the seed that planted the beginning of Expectful Circles – a monthly gathering where I bring parents and parents-to-be together to speak about what it’s like to prepare for a baby or parenting a child in this crazy world. It’s a place you can come to kick back, relax and listen or share stories about this journey we are all on.
This community is open to both individuals and couples because, we are doing this together. We start off every circle with a meditation and then lead into our monthly topic.
Expectful Circles was born out of our desire for connection.
At Expectful – we realized that although our online meditations provide accessible support, the connection created through in person conversation is unparalleled.
We believe this generation of parents and parents-to-be has an opportunity to write a new story when it comes to community – we see a way where this isn’t experienced alone or should be.
This is why we created a monthly space where as a community, we come together. A tribe that unites to expand in way of shared connection and storytelling – both embracing the challenging parts of this journey as well as the beautiful and inspiring ones.
I like to imagine this as a container that you enter into just as you are – whether tired or energized – hopeful or hopeless. I believe this is a place where you come to absorb the qualities that only in person connection can bring – the love, the laughter and the comradery.
We meditate together, share stories and, in the process, we help each other get deeper insight on what it means to you to be a parent or parent-to-be in this world.
When you connect with other humans in the same room with you, all your senses ignite. Each part of you awakens, feels, senses and hears the person or people that surround you.
This is human connection as its most basic and magnificent form – this is how so many of us realize that we are not alone in something.
In the age of technology and less face-to-face time – a wall between how we see and feel ourselves and others has been built – leading to more of us acting from a place of me rather than we.
In our eyes, reversing this starts with the very people who are raising the next generation, reclaiming our togetherness begins with all of us.
We believe in storytelling as a way to pass down knowledge from generation to generation.
Sharing your story allows others to see themselves within it – giving them room to take or leave whatever they wish.
Sharing our stories is different from sharing our advice…
When we share advice, we attach a right and wrong to how something is done or how someone should be. Advice doesn’t leave space for anything other than what the advice giver believes to be true.
So, in our circles, we share stories not advice so you can find your truth within you – not within someone else.
For as far back as I can remember in my motherhood journey, I’ve wanted a community.
When I was growing up in Pennsylvania, I saw community everywhere that I looked. There was community within my home, between my parents and other parents, and between my friends and me. We would get together on weekends to BBQ, parents would swap stories about the good and bad parts of their days, and the children would run around playing games outdoors.
Our community felt like home.
When I moved to New York City and later became a mom, I yearned for that kind of connection with other parents. It seemed that everywhere I looked, people were choosing to communicate online rather than in-person – so I created a Facebook community, Be Expectful which is a place where women who are preparing to conceive, pregnant and new moms go to connect with other women. I get a ton of support and love there… but have always continued to feel as though something was still missing for me.
The more I thought about this, the more I realized how in-person community was beginning to slip away from my personal life and our culture – it’s no surprise to anyone when I say that we are becoming a society who chooses to interact more with their phones than the person sitting next to them.
On a deep level, I can totally relate – after all, the convenience of online connection is unbeatable especially when you are pregnant or a new parent…but what’s not unbeatable is the connection you feel when you sit in a room full of people that make you feel like you’re home.
You see, I remember what it’s like to have community and I believe you do as well.
Remember the feeling of being a child surrounded by friends? Friends that you would laugh, contemplate and swap stories with? Remember what it felt like to feel truly connected in those moments?
I do, and I want to feel it again – for myself, my husband and my daughter… because as the parents of this generation we can either let this form of community fade away or we can bring back.
So, I’m calling for a regroup NYC parents and parents-to-be and inviting you to join Expectful Circles – a local community get together for all of us.
The concept is simple – we come together to connect about what it’s like being the next generation of parents and parents-to-be. We’ll meditate, and you’ll have the opportunity to hear and share stories and helpful resources. This is open to both individuals and couples.
The next circle is Monday, January 22nd at 7pm at The Assemblage on 25th street and Park ave.
Will you join us in creating this community? If so, click here to RSVP.
If you know of other parents-to-be or new parents who would benefit from connection as well, please feel free to share this with them.
Anna Gannon is a mom, the Community Guide and Editorial Lead at Expectful, a Writer and a Yoga & Meditation Guide. Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, Yoga Today and The Expectful Blog. Anna is passionate about the importance of the mind, body, and baby connection. Her mission is to improve women’s emotional health during their fertility, pregnancy and new motherhood experience by sharing open and honest stories, educating them on the benefits of meditation and movement and most importantly, letting them know they are never alone.