When Tracy Lewis moved to the Winter Garden area a few years ago, one of the first things she did was jump into making new connections.
A networker with a heart for people, Lewis loves building friendships and connecting with others in the area. As a mom of teenagers, one of the first things she did upon moving to the area was visit a few mom groups. What she quickly realized, though, was that most of the moms involved had younger children.
“My kids are 16 and 20 now,” Lewis, a Horizon West resident, said. “When I would go, they would talk about diapers, (kids) not eating, not sleeping, breastfeeding and all of those things, and I’m not in that season anymore. I’m like, ‘There’s got to be other moms out there in the same season as me that we can relate more.’ I loved the gals and everything, but we’re just in a different season. I looked for a group that had moms of teenagers and couldn’t find anything.”
That’s when she was inspired to create the Winter Garden Moms of Teenagers group. Although it was founded three-and-one-half years ago, it’s made a resurgence after the coronavirus pandemic amplified a need for social interaction.
Any mom with teenagers is welcome to join the group, which Lewis describes as a safe haven where women can feel empowered and not judged.
“In this season, there’s hormone changes and driver’s licenses and graduating and all these things teenagers go through that babies aren’t,” Lewis said. “That’s why I was like, ‘We just need a space where we can go and get together as moms.’”
The moms haven’t been able to meet much this year, but a small group recently visited Pammie’s Sammies for lunch and conversation. Some of the women were new to the area and a bit nervous, but Lewis reassured them most of the group members were new to one another.
“It was just fun to hear their story, where they came from, what they’re doing, why they’re here, what their dreams are,” she said. “A lot of times when moms get together, all they do is talk about their kids, so I’m trying to break that barrier. … (Being a) mom is part of what you do, but it’s not who you are. … That’s another part of being in a different season with a teenager — moms feel lost. What do you have envisioned for yourself? Now that your child is older and you can go out and do more things, what are your dreams? … It’s kind of a place, too, to find yourself.”
One of the most important things about Winter Garden Moms with Teenagers, Lewis said, is that it’s a no-judgment zone where “mom-shaming” is not tolerated. That makes for encouraging, kind and gracious conversations — a hallmark of women empowering and supporting each other.
Lewis hopes the group will help facilitate connecting local teenagers and encourage them to make new friends, too. She envisions the group as a resource for teens to get involved and meet each other in a fun environment such as outings to the beach or an arcade.
Group members are encouraged to set up any type of meet-up, event or activity that works with their schedule. After all, Lewis said, the objective is to develop new friendships.
“We haven’t done anything for so long just because of COVID, but things are opening up,” she said. “We’re still going to abide by the rules and everything, but we all need to start getting together — those who feel comfortable — so we’ll be doing more and more things.”