Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June 28, 2011 ~ Day 200
Out of the Blue

Today just as my three children were jumping on the couch and trying to make loud seal noises (which sounded like screeching pigs) the telephone rang.

"Hi, this is Mrs. Raymond* from the church Mothers group. We spoke a few months ago at one of the meetings? I've been so busy this Summer but you've been on my mind and even though our group doesn't meet again until September, I just wanted to check in and see how things are going."

"Oh, wow! Hi!"
I yelled into the phone to be heard over the chaos in the living room. "Great to hear from you! Let me just move into the next room!"

Mrs. Raymond is a lovely woman in her late fifties or early sixties. She is very honest and straightforward about her life and grown children, and very committed to the church and helping young mothers. She has really gone out of her way to be kind and friendly to me and the other new group members, and I always appreciate her candor and compassion.

A few months ago we had a breakout session from our Mothers Group meeting to discuss our prayer requests and I broke down with a request for prayer over the stress our family was experiencing at that time in terms of friction between my sons and my feeling of exhaustion and overwhelm. One of my sons had badly hurt the other one the prior morning before school, leaving me feeling numb and like a failure.

Prayer requests are made at the end of all of our Moms meetings and they always give me an incredible reality check. Just when I feel like I'm the only one holding the world on my shoulders, other moms sitting at tables near me ask us to pray for hospitalized parents, children and best friends. They confide about moments of struggle and heartbreaking loss ~ and ask us to pray for strength for them to get through it.

Usually by the end of listening to other people's prayer requests I feel only gratitude in my heart for the chance to pray for these other women, and also gratitude for the life that I am lucky enough to live.

After our prayer requests are wrapped up we also give thanks for answered prayers, in the form of praises - and some of the praises are so sweet and so real they just melt your heart.

Like the praise from the woman who was at last pregnant with a much longed for baby, after finally getting a single night with babysitting so she could go on a date with her husband for the first time in months.

Or the praise from the woman whose best friend had just been declared in remission from cancer!

Once or twice, we've shared grief and supportive thoughts over the passing away of a loved one.

I've gotten into the habit of participating openly in prayer requests and praises with the group, despite my native inclination to be shy and embarrassed. The other moms are never going to get to know the real me if I don't just bite the bullet and put myself out there.

So, on that particular day months ago ~ feeling as shaky as I was ~ I wept a little as I asked my group for their prayers to help my little boys develop a stronger relationship with each other and grow beyond their bully/victim dynamic.

Mrs. Raymond happened to be facilitating our breakout session that day and she gave me a great big verbal hug as she recorded my prayer request.

"I really have to hand it to you young moms," she said, "Raising kids isn't easy and for the ones who take their job seriously it is even harder. The parenting landscape is so different today than it was when I was raising my kids. My hat is off to you."

She went on to describe a handful of the major troubles she had experienced with her own two children as they grew up, and ended by passing me her telephone number and saying, "I'm a woman born to be a mother and grandmother... but so far without any grandchildren of my own. Anytime you feel like you need a friend or mentor, someone to lean on when you are feeling that you have nowhere to turn, please know that you can always call me."

Clutching the little paper with her telephone number on it, I suddenly felt less alone.

"She's been through this already," I thought, "and she lived to tell the tale. Despite their individual challenges while growing up, her kids are in their thirties now, and she knows how their family got through the tougher moments along the way. I'm sure she has a lot to teach me."

I fully intended to call her and reach out to see if she felt like having lunch sometime.

Not long after that day, my husband and I started to get some really concrete new parenting strategies from our play therapist to implement at home and the rest is history. Household life is about 200% better today than it was just a few months ago. We reached out and finally got the help we needed to reframe our situation and make it better.

Thanks to the significant improvement in our family dynamic (along with the 3 month Summer hiatus wherein we mothers take over for the local school system as the Summertime chauffeur/entertainer/cheerleader/activity planner and teachers...) I never availed myself of the opportunity to telephone Mrs. Raymond.

In fact, I had forgotten until today that I had her number.

What a surprise then to receive her call out of the blue, and to realize with a little burst of gratitude that she has been busy praying for me and the other young mothers in our group all of this time. "I'm so sorry it has taken me so long to call you," she told me. "I have been traveling out of the country and volunteering a great deal... but you have been in my thoughts and prayers."

"I'm sure your prayers have helped my family," I affirmed. "I am so grateful. Thank you."

We chatted for a few minutes and then agreed to keep in better touch throughout the rest of the Summer. "Do not hesitate to call me if you need anything at all," Mrs. Raymond said as she was hanging up.

What a blessing to have hopeful thoughts and good intentions coming to us from a woman of pure heart who empathizes with our stage of life, who hopes only to share a little support or encouragement along the journey!

My incident with the now-fired babysitter yesterday may have reminded me that people we barely know can bring negative energy into family life; but the telephone call today from Mrs. Raymond reminds me that virtual strangers can also bring a world of good into your heart with their genuine intentions, prayers and support.

I am so grateful to her for reminding me ~ especially at this moment! ~ of all the sincerity and absolute kindness that does exist out there.

*Name changed to protect the privacy of the party in question

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