Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I get by with a little help from my friends

Say what you will about how weird Mormons are (and I won’t deny, you may have some fair points), but when it comes to women, you may not know we are kind of geniuses. Back in the day when we were still nailing down everything we were trying to accomplish and learn and be, Joseph Smith called a bunch of the women together and said, in effect, “We’re not done until you people are all thrown together in a totally rockin’ sisterhood where you help each other and actually get stuff done—cause even God knows we fellas aren’t about to know what to do when someone dies or has a baby or is dangerously close to losing it.” I know I am taking a whole lot of creative license here, but I think both God and Joseph get me, so it’s cool. This organizing of the sisters shows me God knows the girls He made—we need each other. Badly. I really think one of the reasons blogs and specifically “Mommy Blogs” are so big these days is because they’ve created this whole anonymous world where we can admit to our failings and feel like we’re not the only one falling short no matter how hard we try. I need that. I think we all do.

As helpful as the Interwebs can be for making us feel like we have friends, it’s even more important to actually be a friend. I was just reading a post over at RFML about the day Kate was both The Enforcer and an Angel of Mercy to a poor mom at Target, and it reminded me of a similar experience I had at Walgreens years ago. Kory was still very small, and Jake couldn’t have been 4 yet. Kory had a tendency to hate stores, because he has always had allergies and the air in stores is sort of drying and uncomfortable. Jake is my almost-certainly-ADD boy, and he was all tapped out of being good. So we’re at the checkout line and Kory is screaming, and Jake is demanding a GIANT brownie which I am of course not going to give him and I don’t have enough hands and Kory is still young enough that I am severely sleep deprived and hormonal and I have to put Jake in the cart to keep him away from the damn brownie and now he’s going to kill himself falling out of the cart to get it and JUST TAKE MY MONEY SO I CAN GO HOME! It is my sincere hope that no commas shows the depth of my freak out. There is a very real possibility I will beat my preschooler when I get him back to the car. And then a little old lady steps out of line, pats Jake on the shoulder, gives him a sticker and tells him to be nice and he quiets down. She then puts her arm around my waist and says, “I am so proud of you.” People look at you weird if you cry at Walgreens, but I couldn't help it. I needed to know that my best was good enough. This kind, anonymous stranger gave me that, and it was such a gift.

What would happen if, instead of giving the judge-y look to people whose kids are freaking out at Walmart, we smiled and let them know we’ve been there? What if you took a moment to encourage the mom out with lots of little kids and a newborn? What if you sacrificed your time at church to hold someone else’s baby or play in the hall with their toddler so they could actually attend a meeting? What if you saw a mom doing something you admired and you actually told her, whether you knew her or not? Sure, some people may not lack personal boundaries as profoundly as I do, but I know a little kindness goes a long way. Give in to your instinct and help another mom make it through today. We need each other. Be a pal. Be a mom. Be a sister.


Goodwin Family said...

Love this post Emily! Thank you!

Julie said...

Have I told you lately that I love you? (That was a Rod Stewart lyric so, while cool, nowhere near as cool as your Beatles reference. Also with weirder hair.)

I completely agree. You know better than anyone how the RS has saved my bacon, and probably my literal life, on more than 20 occasions.

When Mike was about two or three, I went grocery shopping with my mom. And by grocery shopping I mean I went to the bishop's store house and loaded a cart with free stuff and tried not to be humiliated in the process. Mike had been being really difficult so I was giving him a lot of attention and saying things like, "You're such a nice boy to sit quietly in your seat," and giving him all kinds of positive reinforcement. I was feeling pretty low about myself and life in general because of the fact that I was "shopping" at the bishop's storehouse. When I went out to the car to put the groceries in the trunk, my mom went back in to return the cart. The woman who had helped us told my mom that she was very impressed with how kind I had been to Michael and that I must be a very good mother.

Even though I was moments away from losing it, she saw goodness in me. She saw that I was trying in the best way I knew how. That was nearly 10 years ago and I still think of it frequently. They were few words, but they made a huge impact.

We really do have a responsibility to take care of each other, both within our sphere of the church and our ward and without.