This evening, I responded to a text from one of my girlfriends. My response was a day late, and she responded that she'd already gotten the information another way. Feeling a little guilty, I texted back and asked if everything was ok. She responded - "Honestly - no!" And went on to tell me that she was pretty much at the end of her rope. She was mentally, physically, and spiritually EXHAUSTED (emphasis hers). I read the text and didn't know what to do. Without divulging all her business, she is a mom who has unexpectedly been left to deal with her three children on her own, as well as handle other stuff going on in her family. We texted back and forth a bit - her feeling guilty that she was admitting that she could do no more, that she wasn't strong enough to do it on her own; me trying to get her to see that it's okay to be weak. We ALL are weak at some point. Finally, I offered - you need to go away. By yourself. Do it over a weekend, and I'll keep the children for you. She said she'll think about it.
Now before you start saying what a nice person I am for offering to keep three children, let me clue you in - I'm not. I offered because I feel guilty about how spoiled I am. Here's the deal. My mom has four sisters. Three of them live within 1/2 hour driving distance of me. ALL of them LOVE my children. No - seriously, I mean LOVE my children. I could call any of them right now - at 8:57 p.m. on Friday night and say I'm bringing the boys over - and they will gladly take them (well - they might first ask me where I'm going, but they'd take them). Oh - did I mention my mom lives 15 minutes from me? And she's my daycare provider? Yes - I am SPOILED!!! Oh - did I mention that Novella, Tewa, Kayla and Kristin will babysit anytime I need them? And Auntie Daphne Harris - who lives 10 minutes from me? Are you getting the picture? I never have to be overwhelmed by my children. I am completely spoiled in that regard.
It's easy, so easy, for me to "forget" or "ignore" the plight of my single mom friends. Those moms who NEVER get a break. There is no one to take the kids at the end of the day. No one to keep them while you run to the grocery.
Earlier this year, or maybe it was last year, some friends and I spoke about starting a Mom's Night Out ministry at Metro. We wanted to provide babysitting for about a three hour period on Sunday afternoons where single moms and dads could drop their children off and know that they would be watched in a safe environment, while they (the moms and dads) go to run errands, or go to a restaurant, or just take a nap! But I've not followed up on it. And tonight, I realized that while we've done a lot of outreach this year (and it's been ALL good, and we've got more coming for you in 2013 - just wait and see), we also can't forget to reach in and help our members here.
So - here's one thing you can do that is quick and easy (relatively). There are some moms in the Cradle Roll class who never have anyone to help them - week after week. Some of them stay inside the Cradle Roll class because their children can get fidgety, and those of us inside who want to hear the sermon sometimes send not-so-kind looks their way because their children are "disturbing" us. Jasmine told me the other day she was going to keep one of those toddlers, so that the mom could actually sit inside the sanctuary and hear the sermon without interruption. At my job, we have what we refer to as "quick wins" - it's something you can do quickly for the customer that makes you look like a hero in their eyes. This is a "quick win" for some of us here at Metro. Stop by any of the classrooms, and offer to watch a child for 15 or 20 minutes - or even 2 minutes, just so the mom can go to the bathroom. Some of us sit next to moms who come in by themselves with two or three children - could you hold the baby while he drinks his bottle so the mom can deal with the fussy toddler? Quick win!
"...Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:40)