Technically, I've been a mom for almost twenty-one years. And I've lived in Naperville since 2003. What I'm referring to with this post is that this was the first year I spent being a member of the Naperville Moms Network.
Last year, I read an article about two women from the area that attended Oprah Winfrey's first Lifeclass in Chicago. The women (Dr. Cathy Subber and Kelli Thompson) were referred to as the owner and founder, respectively, of the Naperville Moms Network. I remember reading this and thinking "Hey - I'm a mom! I live in Naperville! What's this network all about?" It would be a few days before I sat down at my computer to investigate further. The website was friendly and inviting so I decided to join (nothing more than registering my email address and creating a profile). There were tons of activities and groups - book clubs, bunco groups, play groups - you name it and the network had a group or gathering for it. This appealed to me because I had discovered that my ability to meet and make friends had diminished since I no longer worked outside of the home. I had become someone who stayed in her own routine and it was a real challenge for me to BE SOCIAL and do something that was uncomfortable.
I settled on Bunco because it was a game my great-grandmother had taught me when I was little and I remembered it being fun. The first Bunco gathering was two days after I joined the network and I just couldn't get up the nerve to go. I totally chickened out. And here's why: there is a stereo-type to suburban mothers. Yes, I said it. It'll probably make me unpopular that I did, but so be it. You know what I'm talking about too, so I'm not going to spell it out. But it's true and I was deathly afraid of it. Because I am the TOTAL OPPOSITE of that stereo-type. Right or wrong, I was nervous that I wasn't going to fit in, wasn't going to have anything in common, and generally was going to be miserable! So I stayed home.
During the next few weeks, I started following some of the women on Twitter (there's a Twitter group too!). Dr. Cathy was one of them. At one point, I actually got up the nerve to admit that I had been too afraid to come to Bunco because I didn't know anyone! She totally got it - but assured me that I would be more than welcome and have a great time. So when Bunco rolled around the following month, I put on my big girl pants, grabbed my quarters and a bottle of wine (that I can't drink because it gives me migraines) and ventured out! A whole ten block from my house - I could walk home if it was a total disaster or something crazy happened.
When I arrived that night, it was a very small group (just four women and me). I learned very quickly that "Bunco Night" is really just a code for "Moms Night Out Of The House". Yes, there is Bunco that gets played. Sometimes it's as little as 15 minutes (like on this evening). But there is LOTS of fun to be had! We ate yummy snacks, drank fun cocktails, laughed, shared, and had wonderful conversation. We talked about almost everything BUT our kids - travel, school, careers, relationships, business, and life. The women I met were friendly, engaging, warm, interesting, and I felt connected to them on the spot. Everything that I had been afraid of was for nothing. I had a wonderful time, leaving that night with hugs from my four new friends and felt all warm and fuzzy inside.
That warm and fuzzy feeling hasn't gone away over the last year. I have become more and more involved with this group of fabulous women, and I'm embarrassed now to admit how scared I was in the beginning. Not once have I felt judged or belittled or put down. What I have felt is supported and empowered and a sense of community that I didn't know I was missing. I cherish these women, and I am honored to call them my friends. I've laughed with them and I've cried with them. We are serious, and we are silly. I know that if I need a helping hand, they will be there. I hope they know the same of me.
A year ago, I was too afraid to go to Bunco nights and had no clue who anyone was or what this group was really about. Now, I am an active contributor to the network, helping to organize the hostess schedule for Bunco and promote our events and activities on social media.
Today, Dr. Cathy and I are working together to organize the Naperville Moms Network's 3rd Anniversary Bash on Friday, November 30th at Cafe Buonaro's. In keeping with our mission - "A Community of Moms Empowering Moms", we continue to embrace and support our community by inviting local businesses to participate in this fantastic event. There are several ways to do this!
* Come join us that evening! We are thankful to all of the local businesses that have been a part of other events in the past and we'd love to have you there.
* Be a sponsor of the night so we can continue to provide these events for free to our mom members. We have created 4 sponsorship levels for businesses to choose from, ranging from id="mce_marker"00 - id="mce_marker"000. Benefits include things such as email blasts to our entire membership, shout outs as "Naperville Moms Network Approved" on our website, Facebook and Twitter, coupons in our gift bags and much more!
* Help make our themes raffle baskets ROCK with something from your business or sponsored by your business. There are several different categories:
* Do all Three!! As always, business owners that join us at events are the ones who get to make the best connections. Busy Moms buy from those they know and trust.
Thank you, Kelli Thompson, for founding the Naperville Moms Network. And thank you, Dr. Cathy Subber, for continuing Kelli's great work. The description from the website - "We are a diverse community of local moms connecting to support and empower each other in all aspects of life" says it perfectly. This is EXACTLY what we do!
Come out and join us - we aren't scary. We don't bite. And we welcome everyone with open arms (usually holding a cocktail in one of them!) Thank you to the amazing women I've met in the last year. You have added nothing but greatness to my life. I know that I haven't met even 10% of the almost 2,000 members yet, but I plan on this being the first of many years to come with the Naperville Moms Network!
* If you would like more information regarding sponsorship or donations for the 3rd Anniversary Bash, please email me at email@example.com
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