Someone once asked me to describe motherhood. I remember using words like, “messy,” “hard,” and “wonderful.” Sure, all the words were true, but words alone failed to describe the journey; motherhood had to be experienced.
Experiencing motherhood is more than just feedings and wiping hineys, it’s a celebration of life and a responsibility to others. It’s an understanding and compassion like no other — and not only for your children, but for all children and families.
We have a lovely family on our street with a 10-year-old daughter. For the last seven years, we’ve opened up our home to this young lady as she held her own against my sons in Nerf battles, scooter races, and dodgeball games. It hit me hard when I recently learned her mother’s return to work left her walking to and from school alone, and arriving to an empty house until her family came home.
“I worry so much about her,” her mother told me, “It’s hard for me to even focus on my job. She calls as soon as she gets home, but if she’s even a minute late in calling, I panic!” I can only imagine.
It broke my heart to think of this 10-year-old girl home alone each day. Growing up, I was that girl for a time, and let me tell you, scary things can and do happen. Like the time I sliced two fingers open so badly that I had to call upon my neighbors for help to stop the bleeding, or the time our bathtub faucet handle broke off in my hand and nearly flooded the house. Being home alone isn’t an impossible situation, but it’s far from ideal for all those involved.
I knew I had to do something. This family was in need, and although they never asked for help, I knew I could make a positive difference.
I approached our neighbors and asked how I could help. Could I take her to school and pick her up each day? Could she stay with us until they arrived home? I wanted to relieve this girl and her family of the stress and fear they were experiencing, because my circumstances allowed me to.
Although it was a bit of a hard sell for our proud neighbors to accept my offer, keeping this young girl safe and cared for trumped all. What’s another child, especially one as sweet as our neighbor’s girl, on the way to and from school? What’s another kid sitting at my kitchen table doing homework? So little, and yet for her and her family, so much. So many of you give of your time and resources to help your fellow moms simply by virtue of who you are — a mother to all children and a friend to all mothers.
I asked real moms to share the ways in which they support their fellow moms and this is what they had to say:
“My girlfriends keep me on the up and up and hold me to my dreams. They help out by calling and checking in (most live out of state) and making time for one another. When my parents were ill, one of my best friends, in town on vacation, came over to help out. She stayed with my kids while I went to the hospital, brought me wine and sat with me while I cried it out. They let me be me and I do the same. We text daily, funny things, prayers and random ideas. They are the backbone of my ‘family’ and without them I’d be lost.” ~Amber, From Carpools to Cocktails
“My friends and I help each other with meals at times. So if I’m making lasagna, I’ll make two and give one to a friend. And vice versa. Good way to share recipes too!” ~Sylvia
“After my children were first born, someone organized a meal train for me. What a godsend! Now, when I know a mom with a new baby, or who is dealing with health issues, I try to bring her family a nice big dinner (with dessert).” ~Gwen, eGood
“The woman that ran the home-based day care my daughter went to would pack all her other day care kids in her van and bring my daughter to a half-day preschool program when my ex-husband changed jobs, and not once did she complain or raise her fee. She did that every day for two years. She was incredible, helping me raise my kid while I worked and she raised her own five kids. My daughter was her last day care kid; she closed her daycare and went back to school, and I still consider her family.” ~Leigh
“I have a core group of wonderful mama friends whose kids are always welcome at my home, who I’m happy to jump in and help out by picking up children at school, dropping off a dinner, sharing a story or bottle of wine, and who I’m so grateful will do the same for me. Those mamas, right there on the front lines of daily parenting hilarity and tearing out hair and fears and frustrations and joys, make it all better and easier. I want to be that for them, too.” ~Jessica, Sassafrass
“My friend and workout buddy made my day the other week when she volunteered to stay at the gym for an extra 20 minutes and watch all our kids in a lounge area. She did this so I could pick up my kids from the provided childcare area in time to avoid a fee and still get a shower in before running errands for myself.” ~Carinn, The Simple Moms
“In our neighborhood, our kids all play together. So we are always backing each other up: watching the kids in the morning when school is delayed so a mom can get to work on time. Picking up someone’s kids when their mom is stuck in a meeting a work. Tag teaming on babysitting so we can all get a night out once in a while. And we keep up with what’s going on. We don’t just send nice notes on Facebook. We celebrate with cards and parties, we send food and cards for sympathy, and we put together baskets for those moms dealing with issues requiring hospitalization. Our little community is redefining community!” ~Fadra, All Things Fadra
“My friends taught me how helpful it is to get hand-me-downs of gently used clothes, toys, and kid gadgets. I look forward to cleaning out our supplies every couple of months and dropping them off at friends houses who I know can use them.” ~Jeannette
“I have a little group of neighborhood mom friends, and we’ll always help each other out by watching each other’s kids through moves, doctor’s appointments, etc. (It helps that all of our kids are friends.) We also get together for yoga once a week and then go out for a much-needed coffee chat, where we can vent and share without judgment or shame. Just having that support system has been incredibly helpful for all of us.” ~Michelle, Early Mama (and Babble, too!)
How do you help your fellow mother out?