27 Days to a Happy Mom - Day 17
I was stretching today, and twisted my back. It wasn't a hard move, but more like something you'd do when you are backing up in the driveway and twist to look behind you so you can make sure you aren't running over a bicycle, a bigwheel, the curb, or random neighbor children. But the twist was enough to wrench my back out of place. I laid around all evening. I made my children fix me dinner. And then I watched a funny movie. Really, dinner was an open-several-cans-and-mix affair, and my boys all know their way around the kitchen. And I hurt enough that I wanted to quit breathing. Every exhale was a stabbing pain. And I got to laugh (very gingerly) with all my boys (and the girl). How fun is that?
But being hobbled with pain made me feel very vulnerable. It reminds me of other times when I haven't been up on my feet: the birth of a new baby, the death of a close family member, children in the hospital, a difficult pregnancy, moving to a new house... the list could be endless. And in each of these times, I always knew I had other women I could rely on.
Growing up with four brothers and no sisters, I missed out on playing dress-up and beauty parlor. But I am so grateful now for the huge support of many sister-friends. I have neighbors and sisters-in-law and girlfriends who will help if I called. Likewise, I am more than happy to give them a hand. Having connections to other women - other mothers - makes this perilous journey of life more bearable, and downright pleasant at times.
We adopted a great-grandmother out of the adorable elderly lady who lived across the street from us. She let my three little boys play in her lawn sprinklers during the hot summer when we had only dirt in our yard. I will always feel grateful to the backyard neighbor lady who let my youngsters play with hers when I'd visit the midwives with my fifth pregnancy. We moved in three months before the baby was due, and I didn't know anyone who could babysit. I appreciated the lady who lived up the street who would always take a shortcut through my yard as an excuse to visit me and try to get me to come to local activities. I've never been quite as relieved as I was when my mother traveled a thousand miles to help me manage things when my husband started chemotherapy.
I have a neighbor who lets me borrow books from her extensive library. A friend who is coming over to help me declutter my craft and half-finished-project stash. A sister-in-law who keeps me motivated by talking on the phone with me while I clean the kitchen. A mother-in-law who tells me stories of raising her own children. Women have pruned my overgrown bushes, let me cry on their shoulders, and cleaned the grout in my icky shower. They bring meals for my family, relief for my soul, and a lightness to my heart.
I'm lucky to have friends who stuck by me even when I was down and prickly. I'm lucky to belong to a church with a strong women's organization. Wherever I go (we moved thirteen times in ten years!), there are always women ready to help and befriend. I'm lucky to have (due to my own large family and those of both my husbands) fourteen sisters-in-law!
These strong connections with wonderful women and with motherhood are worth maintaining and strengthening. I will call the gal across the street to arrange a playdate - and a visit - while her military husband is away. I am taking dinner to a new mother. I can attend a local book club. I go to Relief Society - my church's women's group - every week. I can grin at the mom of an unruly toddler at the grocery checkout line, and lend a hand if I can. I will call my friend and not always make her call me. I should invite that new family over for games and ice cream. I can even read Mormon Mommy Blogs, which are endlessly enjoyable to me.
But the best thing I can do to share motherhood is to connect the joy I feel at being a mom with the next generation. I want my boys to know that they can have joy with their wives and children as they play with and support them. I want my daughter to know that she can find fulfillment in raising fine humans and in refining the domestic arts. I do want my children to know that a family is a wonderful, endearing adventure, with challenges and hellish moments that can make us stronger and more loving.
I have such happiness from being a mom. It's only natural that I should want to share it.
Just for today... connect with another mom. Share a joy, or commiserate (or both!) Show a child that you love being a mother.