A tribute

During my first year, indeed the first year of ‘Moms and More,’ I was so emotionally overwhelmed at the thought of having found the Perfect Thing, I could barely share it with any coherence. All I knew was that I loved the circle that we formed together, in year one of any intricately organized, everything-thought-of, creature-comforts-for-mommies, education, spiritual, ‘we’re in this together’ Mommy group.

We were taught that being a mommy is a calling, a gift, and our most important ministry.

We shared our struggles and laughs.

We learned about each other’s denominations and traditions. (Specifically, I learned that Catholics can out-Christian Protestants (!) and that families who sleep together are not necessarily freaky!)

We mourned together for dear children lost.

We celebrated together as children were added.

This year, I have been proud to serve on the leadership team of Moms and More. Mostly, I’ve been excited to do so because it has meant one extra meeting a month, one more time to gather with women I have come to support, appreciate, look up to, admire, and love….women whom I may not talk to but the three times a month we see each other, but who have had my back at every possible time of need I’ve had.

One of our recent meetings allowed me the opportunity to step outside and admire everything that is wonderful – everything that works – about 2 hours, twice a month, where mothers of all stages, in all circumstances, come together to share, eat, be creative, love each other’s children, and learn how to do it better and how to forgive ourselves when we don’t!

Our Titus Panel consisted of three ‘veteran moms’ with different experiences, perspectives, and personalities, who spent an hour answering our questions with enthusiasm, detail, and humility. What a gift! ~ wisdom from mothers who collectively had seen and done just about everything. They spoke to us and with us without judgment and with gentle, generous, bemused knowledge that can only come from years spent in the trenches.

As they spoke, I tiptoed around the room and captured photographically many of the things that I cherish about this group: its openness, intimacy, collaboration. We’re there because we want to have kinship with others like us – who want to love our children and serve our families as best as we can, who want to be fulfilled as women, and who want to please God, Who gave all these amazing gifts to us.

Together, we are moms, and yes, more…

We drink coffee, eat what we’ve prepared for each other, and make craft-type-things we’d never do on our own.

We meet those who delight in teaching what they’ve learned

…and we take delight in learning from them.

We learn as they share their wisdom and their struggles: (forgive me, D, but your raw testimony of where you are is so Where I Am, and it touched so many of us and stayed with us, the photo is worth sharing!)

We share our children (you don’t see me in the pictures, but my ‘ministry’ at the meetings is holding babies while their mamas make a plate. It’s a sacrifice <grin> I readily make!) On this particular day, we had 8 nursing babies in the room with us… what a beautiful image of what we’ve been blessed with! And we glean, hungrily, from our teachers and our colleagues in this full time job of motherhood.

What you don’t see in these pictures: Women arriving at 8:30 in the morning with their sleepy little ones in tow, along with covered dishes and craft materials and birthday gifts, to set up everything from flavored coffee creamers and assorted teas to a lending library, from seasonal centerpieces to take-home family activities. Women delivering meals to new mothers. Loving hands caring for out kiddies so we can have two hours off that make us better.

You also don’t see what we call the ‘afterglow’ – when our wee ones come in to munch from the leftovers (they’ve had their snacks already, but ours are more exciting), the big ones care for the little ones while we clean up and hug and make plans for Monday play dates.

Some of the treasures that have grown out of this group for me are the real friendships – the special closeness I’ve been blessed to forge with a handful of women I may not have otherwise met. They are here for me in such a way that I feel safe with them – especially when I am harried or have returned from a trip with Rod, and I know my kids need other kids but I’m so overwhelmed with laundry and fatigue I can’t imagine leaving the house. They drop in and drink coffee, and we let the kids mess and eat crazy combinations for lunch, and we take comfort in knowing that  none of us care that the floor is filthy.

This group has brought old friends back into my life and new friends in that will stay. It’s brought friendships to my children. It’s brought awareness to me about things I might not have noticed or cared about before. It’s brought to me nuggets of wisdom that are on Post-Its throughout my house and car and bag and notebooks and practical ideas about prayer and discipline and passing on my faith to my children.

Before this group, in addition to this group, I have friends who are moms, who are stepmoms, who have kids the same age, who travel or are married to singers and ministers.  I cherish them as well. And I hope every single one who desires this sort of circle, the strength that comes with unity, will find one.

The Mommies: they make me feel stronger and more capable than I did before; they make me feel blessed to be a woman. And because of them, with them, my children have someone better for their Mommy.