This will come as no surprise to anyone, but being a mom is hard. And although I know this is an exaggeration, I feel like I would never have made it as a mom, had it not been for the amazing group of moms I met when Liam was around 6 or 7 weeks old.

We were all first-time moms with babies born within weeks of each other, and we met weekly at a local cafe, huddled over our nursing or feeding or sleeping or crying babies. We exchanged stories, information and commiseration from the front lines of those early and mysterious days of trying to figure out diapers, feeding and sleep schedules, postpartum recovery, and the crazy transformation we had experienced where we were now taking care of tiny, helpless, living, breathing, human beings outside of our bodies.

It was a lifeline.

It was my sanity.

It was my community.

We laughed together, we cried together, and as our babies grew up, they played together.

Our group did slowly dissolve as people went back to work, or moved away, or just got busy and drifted apart, although the very first mom I met who brought me into that group is still one of my best friends, and our kids just recently celebrated their 8th birthdays together!

Because of how much I valued this experience, when it came to having a second baby, I made a point of joining a support group specifically for second-time moms. This time, we spent most of the time talking about our older kids and how to help them manage the transition to being an older sibling, and the struggles of juggling the needs of a toddler and a baby.

I’ve also since connected into a community of moms more local to me, right in my neighborhood, which has grown as my kids have gone to pre-school, classes, summer camp, and now elementary school.

I’ve met amazing, incredible, talented women (and men) through my kids - women who inspire me, and with whom I feel we have so much more in common with than just having kids.

We may come from varying backgrounds and pre-kid lives, but when we get a chance to get beyond the cursory greetings at pick-up and drop-off, there’s so much more to talk about and share and support each other over.

The best way to get support for yourself as a working mom, and as a stay-at-home mom, is to connect with other like-minded women who are experiencing similar challenges, struggles, and joys.

Something happens when we can share our stories, and find out what others are experiencing - not what they appear to be experiencing from the outside, but what they are really experiencing that may not be apparent at first glance.

Unfortunately, the fact is that our culture, at least here in the US, is still not particularly supportive of women or moms, and while that needs to change at a systemic level (and I do believe it will, despite what’s going on right now in this country), in the meantime, we can create support for ourselves.

I feel incredibly fortunate to live in and be part of a thriving parenting community where I have a sense of belonging and support, but I know not everyone has this.

It’s hard for moms who go back to work and often can’t make it to mommy-and-me classes and other activities for new moms that are scheduled during the day, and weekends are often and rightly precious family time. Connecting with other moms can seem secondary.

It’s hard for stay-at-home moms too who may not have easy access to the densely populated local communities we have here in NYC and who can end up feeling isolated yet never alone, but mostly in the company of very small children.

If you’re shy or introverted, getting “in” with the local moms who all seem to know each other already can seem daunting.

And no matter who you are or what your situation is, it can seem like every other mom has it way more together than you do, and you’re the only one struggling.

Believe me, you are not alone.

If there is one thing that I want you to know, this is it. Your situation may be unique, your life may look very different to mine or to anyone else’s, we may not have the exact same struggles, but we can be there for each other, to listen openly, to hear what each other is saying, to see and validate what each of us are going through, and to give each other whatever support we can.

Community is a very strong value, both for me personally, and for Photosanity.

And one of the ways we’ve been putting community into action is through our Resilience Through Joy workshops. Each workshop is kept to 6 participants so that each one gets the chance to share, and it has been truly amazing to create a space for women to connect over their parenting experiences and talk about how photography can be a source of joy, connection, self-care, reflection, gratitude, abundance, and discovery.

Yes, we talk about concrete, actionable steps to help you take better photos of your kids that capture the feeling of being in that moment.

Yes, we talk about how to incorporate photography into your family life as a means to finding joy and connection.

And yes, we talk about how to amplify that joy by actually getting your photos off your camera or phone and out into your life for your entire family to enjoy.

But every time I give this workshop, what I come away with is the power of connection, and the magic of community that happens when women come together and share, truly and honestly, about what’s going on with them, and listen to and honor each other’s struggles and victories.

To find out more, go to http://resiliencethroughjoy.com.

Here’s what some participants have been saying:

"I loved being a part of this workshop. It is so helpful to hear from other moms who are in similar stages of life. I liked that there were so many different perspectives, from where we are geographically to number of kids to type of schooling and working vs. stay at home moms.” - Kara Hazen

"It was great to think of photography as another outlet to be mindful and find joy. I never thought of it that way before.” - Susan Malat

"I needed rejuvenation in my photography and in celebrating daily life. I needed to let go of guilt and celebrate joy. I needed to be reminded how to intentionally document the joy in my life--in the mundane, in the special, in the everyday.” - Alicia Moss

Once again, to find out more and sign up for an upcoming online workshop, go to http://resiliencethroughjoy.com.

Or if you’d rather chat with me one-on-one, you can sign up for a free Photosanity consult where we’ll get on the phone and talk about your biggest challenges as well as what you most want as a parent. I’ll give you your very own customized strategy for finding joy and connection through photographing your kids, as well as three steps to put it into action.