As I write this, I’m babysitting my friends’ children. Now, before you send me heated emails or comments about how irresponsible I’m being, it’s late and the kids are all asleep. As I sit in the quiet, sipping my nice hot cuppa tea, I can’t help but reflect on how much life without a safety net can wear you down; and how as moms, women and friends in general, we are all woven together, each story affecting the others.
We have lived in Ireland for nearly 3 years now, but before that we lived in the States 18 hours (by car; 4 by plane) from our closest family. Since having children, we have been forced to rely on the kindness of “strangers” to be our support, help and encouragement. Don’t get me wrong, we had loads of support and encouragement from our families, but let’s face it: sometimes a girl needs to get out of the house either alone, or alone with her man! So, what I’m talking about it tangible support and help.
I was blessed during that time with several friends, and teenage girls, who offered that support to me through free babysitting, play dates, and dinner swaps. One friend in particular even let me come over every other day to use her washer and dryer after we’d sold ours but we weren’t moving to Ireland for another 2 months! She has 4 girls, people! Now that’s friendship!!
Since moving here, however, we’ve not had near the strength in numbers for that tangible support. I have a dear, dear friend here without whom I’m quite certain I would go crazy. She is tangible support for me (and my family) through play dates, cups of tea made, carpools, and even verbal slaps upside the head when needed. But we’ve really been lacking in the way of someone who can routinely bless us by helping with our kids, babysitting for free, and helping us get some much needed quality time together. You see, when you work from home and are around each other and the children basically 24/7, romance and creativity have a way of fading to a severe shade of gray and blending in with all the lone socks and dust bunnies lurking under every piece of furniture. And while I love my children more than life itself, not getting time to refresh and bond with my husband, outside the four walls of our home where I-really-should-be… is lurking around every corner and under every sippy cup, takes a toll on our marriage, our friendship, my soul, and ultimately those children we are so lovingly trying to raise in grace.
That brings me to tonight. We met this family through some dear friends of ours and we have worked out a regular baby sitting swap. They, too, are far from family (blood relations, that is) and it just so happens our schedules work out that we can help each other out in this way. And that is no small feat, mind you, since between us we have seven children ages 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1!!
I say all of that to say this: as friends, moms, and especially sisters in the family of God, what affects me affects you, and vice verse.
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 as paraphrased in The Message
So, take a look at all the women in your life, particularly if they have children. What can you do to bless them? Bring them a dinner? Drop off or collect their child from school or practice or club? Babysit so she can go out with her husband? Babysit so she can take a nap? I read somewhere recently that discouragement is the poison of the soul. If that’s true, then encouragement is the vitamin of the soul. So, if you have friends you can encourage and support either through swapping kids or taking her kids if you don’t have kids yourself, do it. You won’t regret it, and you may even find that she returns the blessing in a way that feeds your soul… And if, like me, you feel as though you are working without a safety net, reach out to your friends and ask for help! Chances are, they need it just as much as you!
The pain was non-stop now as the contractions came one on top of another. I desperately needed to push, but the doctors said I couldn’t yet without risking damage to myself or the baby. I was really starting to rethink this whole “miracle of natural childbirth” thing, and I started to panic. I began to focus on the pain, fear, and sheer magnitude of what was about to happen. I can’t do this; it’s impossible; I’ve changed my mind!! Then, I saw it: my husband’s face, inches from mine, eyes wide in no-nonsense-listen-to-me fashion.
“Jen, focus. Breathe. Look at me…breathe.”
I remember that moment during the birth of my first child like it was yesterday. I remember it as vividly as I remember my first glimpse of my precious baby girl. And I remember the choice I made. My first reaction to his help was to tell him to go take a hike. He had no idea what kind of pain I was in. No. Idea. Who does he think he is telling me what to do?! No uterus, no opinion!!! Okay, okay, I had asked him to support me in my dream of natural childbirth. Yes, I had asked him to get firm with me if I started to panic, lose it, or freak out. But that was before…
I am guest posting today over at The Better Mom (as in, Please, God make me a better mom. Not, I am the better mom in this situation. ) Please hop on over there to read the rest, and don’t forget to show some comment love. Thanks!
I’ve linked up with
Most of us know about Compassion International for their Sponsor a Child program for sponsoring needy children around the world. But many of us (myself included until recently) don’t know that they also have other great programs, including providing water filters so children can have clean, safe water to drink.
I’d like to ask you to help. You don’t have to give any money, all you have to do is vote.
Would you take two seconds and vote for Compassion to take over the @water Twitter handle for a week? If they win, they get to spread the word to over 400,000 followers about the life-saving filter they’ve created to give kids safe drinking water.
You can also right click on the Compassion button right there ——->
and “save as”, and then post it on your blog with a link to the voting page!
Want more info? You can read about the water filter here.
And you can read about what Compassion would say if given the @water handle for a week here.
I’d like to thank Sarah Mae over at Like A Warm Cup of Coffee for posting about this endeavor! Please spread the word, and let’s get clean drinking water for kids!!