Last night at Bible study I taught on being a mom and my mind has been swimming with memories of my girls when they were little bitty. As God would have it, a few weeks ago I happened on an old prayer journal from 1982 when Amanda was barely three and Melissa was a newborn. Those of you in the throes will not be surprised to hear that it was filled with unsophisticated requests for things like more sleep, for Melissa to adjust better to the church nursery, for financial help as I got to stay home with the girls, for Amanda not to catch Melissa's cold, for Keith and I to get along better, for him to want to go to church, for him to stop cussing (I hope you're smiling because I am), for him to...and for him to...and for him to...and for him to...and for us to get to go to a marriage conference, for me to apply what I was learning in my first Dr. Dobson book, for me to have a better disposition (I must have used the word ten times that I could find), and for me to make minutes for my quiet time because "my day goes so much better when I do." Sound familiar?
(My personal favorite was when I asked God for forgiveness for trying to steal some of His glory for being so prideful about the way I played handbells in the handbell choir. I laughed until I cried. Then again, it has nothing to do with children but you surely would not have wanted to miss that, would you?)
Even before I found the journal, I'd begun reliving so many of those experiences as I watched Amanda with her young family. One of the things I enjoy so much as I relive those priceless and challenging days in my memory is Amanda telling me all about her fellow mom-friends and the babies they share. Second only to seeing pictures of Jackson in his Easter outfit, I died to see pictures of Ella and Ava, his best girl buddies who were born within days of him. The pictures did not disappoint. I hang on every word Amanda says as she tells me about this mom and this baby, that mom and that baby.
I can't overemphasize how rich my fellow moms made my parenting experience. Particularly one: my best friend, Johnnie. She had two boys and I had two girls and we dragged those four kids to every McDonalds in Houston just so we could finish a sentence. We taught Mother's Day Out together because we were both broke. We home-made family Christmas gifts because we didn't have the money to buy them. (We spent what money we had on our babies.) I hate arts and crafts to this day and still have burns from glue guns. That's not all. I'd decide I'd had it with Keith and I'd leave him in the morning sometimes, go to her house with my unsuspecting girls, drink a cup of coffee, get in a better mood, and be back home by the time he got off work. He'd walk in the door, ask about my day, and I'd say under my breath, "I left you today. That's how my day was." Hee hee. Somehow I'd feel some satisfaction with that, repent, then fall in love with him all over again. It was his looks.
My point is, Moms, you've got to have you a support group of other moms. Many who are peers. Others who are just ahead of you. They will be used of God to get you through everything from the mundane to the morose. As I told my class last night, our ancient female ancestors walked to wells and rivers together to get water. Our great grandmothers quilted and canned together. We, instead, are imprisoned in our minivans driving breakneck speed, thinking a few maniacal minutes on a cell phone can replace a regular play-date where believing moms can take some time to laugh and share. I don't think it's a luxury. It's a necessity for mental (and often spiritual!) health! Because, you see,...
*No day full of dirty diapers has overtaken you but such as is common to moms.
*No tantrum has overtaken you but such as is common to moms.
*No "but, Mom, everybody is going!" has overtaken you but such as is common to moms.
*No "You hate me!" has overtaken you but such as is common to moms.
*No child's first love has overtaken you but such as is common to moms.
*No child's first broken heart has overtaken you but such as is common to moms.
*No broken curfew has overtaken you but such as is common to moms.
*No goodbye has overtaken you but such as is common to moms.
About five years ago, my buddy Johnnie's oldest son, Jeremy, was just about to vow his life to the woman of his dreams. The music was already playing in the sanctuary and we were only about three minutes from the service starting. We looked around and suddenly realized that it was just the six of us left in the choir room: Johnnie, her two boys, and me and my two girls. The four kids were all beautiful, God-loving young adults. Johnnie and I had lived through it and they'd lived through us. Wow, Lord. The groomsmen had already gone to their posts and it was just about time for Jeremy to take his place through a sanctuary door down a long hall. Had we tried to manipulate a few moments alone between the six of us, we could never have pulled it off. It was a gift from God. The completely unplanned moment was not lost on a single one of us six and even now I could cry about the tenderness of it. Without anyone saying a word, Jeremy held out his arm for one of my daughters. Jordan held out his arm for the other. And Johnnie held out her arm to me. Arm in arm, three familiar pairs of us walked the long hall, laughing, and nearly crying, making our way toward the finish line of young family-hood just like we began: together. Those kinds of relationships don't take place in five minutes. They take years. Crises. Prayers. Divine favor. Your fellow moms are some of the most priceless treasures God has bestowed on you to cheer you on your way to the finish line of young parenting. Grab some arms and do it together.
God has blessed me tremendously my whole life with wonderful friends. Some live close to me, some don't. (Ok, I live in Africa. Most don't live near me!) Some may be moving away soon (sniff, sniff) and you never know where God will move us after awhile. Thankfully frienships can continue and even grow and flourish despite the miles that separate you.
So I'm thankful for the girlfriends that I can sit with face to face now, friends that laugh and cry and hug and comfort and encourage me. And I'm thankful for the ones who do the same, just through emails, phone calls and pictures.
Thanks, girls....I love you all!
Kecia, this picture is for you.