photo source: http://community.sparknotes.com/2010/08/19/blogging-wuthering-heights-part-10
The older woman looked down into the stroller and smiled, “How old is she?”
“Eight weeks,” I answered. We went on to chat about babies and sleep and 2:00 am feedings while she rang up my clothing purchase. She was so much older, wiser, had already done this thing that was so new to me. It felt good to talk to her.
She was someone who understood.
And then it happened again when I went to the grocery. The bookstore. The gym. Finally I realized; there’s something about having a child that bonds women. I thought to myself, I’m in a club now, The Motherhood Club.
Because never before had older women in department stores stopped and talked to me. They didn’t ask personal questions about my life, my family or my sleep habits. But once I got pregnant, once my belly began to reveal itself, everything changed.
Those ahead of us in the game of life like nothing better than to share. They share their experiences, their advice, their war stories. Sometimes they share too much.
And thank God. Because if I didn’t have their stories to make me realize I’m not alone in my circumstances, then I surely wouldn’t survive.
Because whatever it is I am going through, it’s the people I go through it with who help me get to the other side.
When my daughter was three months old, I went back to work. It’s hard to be a working mom. Hard to show up on time when your two-year-old throws a tantrum over pink socks. Hard to be on your game in the boardroom when you’ve been up all night.
So it was then that I bonded with other working moms. Together we commiserated about how there aren’t enough hours in the day and the guilt of missing our child’s first step, first word, first lost tooth. We also taught each other how to make dinner in a flash, make the most of the moments we had with our children and how to Let. The. House. Go.
I became a full-fledged member of the Working Mothers Club. But not for long.
Because when I had daughter number two, I quit my job and became a stay-at-home mom. This too, was an adjustment. Because while I loved being with my children, I also loved coffee breaks and satisfying work and adult conversation.
Being at home alone with little ones was sometimes lonely. So I joined a real, live mom’s club, and it literally saved me. This club was full of women who could relate to being up all night, being thrown up on, and being home all day but still getting nothing done. They had empathy, advice, and knew better than anyone how to get purple nail polish out of white carpet.
Life is about stages. About experiencing joy, difficulty and adjustment to new and different circumstances. How do I best I get through these stages? I join a club. In other words, I bond with people like me, people in the same place I’m in, people who can guide me through.
Currently I’ve joined a new club. It’s called the Grieving Club. It’s not a physical club like my mom’s club, but it is a club. Most of the members have been through what I’ve been through. They empathize. They reach out. They send me a text or a card or just call to check in.
I am grateful.
For most of my life, I have wanted to keep my struggles, my adjustments, my fears and sadness to myself. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, don’t want to bother other people. Sometimes I just don’t want to face my feelings, don’t want to be…vulnerable.
But the older I get, the more I realize this: God did not design me to be a solitary creature. He does not want me to go through my trials alone and in fact, he reminds me that I’m never alone. He is with me always.
But it’s nice to have some physical companions too. So he gave me family, friends, and complete strangers who exhibit empathy and compassion. What a blessing.
There’s a lot I don’t understand about how God works. But I do know this: God created each of us with an empathetic heart and when we feel the pull we are meant to act.
So I guess when it’s my turn, when I’m ready, it will be my job to pay it forward in the Grieving Club. To be that person who commiserates, reaches out, calls or sends a text or card just to check in. I’m not there yet, haven’t felt the pull, but when I do, I’ll be more than ready to complete the assignment.
This sounds like a club I need! I have been grieving so much lately over the loss of Sue. She was always the person I could confide in and also celebrate good news with. I really miss my sister. I can empathize with you also, Tracy, as I also know how hard it is to lose your Mom. Things are bound to get better with some time, but we will always miss her and love her. I hope to share some of my memories with you in a personal letter sometime. It helps me to share and remember the funny and good times, and it might help you too. Know that I am always here for you and support you.
Thanks Aunt Joyce! I know all the family is there for me. I also know grieving is a stage and I do believe it will get better with time. I’m just so grateful for all the people in my life who help me inch along through it. I am sorry you are grieving too, I forget sometimes how many others are going through this with me. When you are ready, I’d love to read some of your memories about mom. No rush!
That’s the beauty of God…redeeming all the pain and suffering and grief to help us understand some of what others are going through and to allow us to minister to them when they’re hurting. For me, this has been the “joy in the morning.” Being able to encourage others. I guess that’s another club, huh? Great post, Tracy. Praying for you, sweet sister!
Absolutely Sabra. It is a beautiful thing how God allows us to help others as we share in experience. I love your term, joy in the morning! It’s a great way to look at as it is joyful to be able to encourage others. Thx for your prayers. 🙂
Tracy, when my Dad died in 2008, I found that many people were compassionate and helpful, but the ones that I really felt drawn towards were those who had also lost a much-loved parent. Others cared, but it was from the outside, as observers. Fellow “orphans” knew exactly what it felt like, from the inside.
One friend called it “the hole in the universe”. I asked her if it would get better. She said, “Yes it will. You don’t get over it, but you do get used to it.” I clung to that promise while I grieved hard and fast (and often loud, in my private moments) for the first 6 months.
It softened, with time. Nearly 6 years later, I still have times when it hurts, but more often the thoughts of Dad are happy and thankful. Every grief is different. I hope you will feel free to grieve however you need to, as the grief is the path to the healing. 🙂
Thanks Belinda for your comments. You put together what I am feeling so well. I love, love what your friend said. Before my mom died, I’d heard other says, “I think of him/her every day,” and that was so hard for me to comprehend. How do you think of that person every single day and if you do, are you sad every day, like forever? So I like the idea of getting used to it. I am better now than I was when I wrote this blog a few weeks ago, this gives me hope for even better days ahead. You are in my club! 😉