I'll be the first to tell you: I make a lot of mistakes.
Some days, it seems like I can't get out the door without mucking up the entire day. The house is a mess, we're running an hour off schedule, I've missed a playdate the kids were looking forward to, and I can't find my glasses (which are usually - hahaha - on my face). Somewhere between losing my ever lovin' mind and calling it quits at 11am, my 10 yr. old son will touch my arm and say:
It's okay, mom. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has bad days. In fact, I'm having one right now.
Bless his heart.
Unfortunately, there have been mistakes I've made that aren't laughed away by a dimpled-face kid with a healthy grip on sarcasm. I've participated in some really stupid shenanigans. I've been a bad friend. I've been a selfish wife. I've been judgmental and cold where I should have shown humility and kindness. I've held on too long to relationships that were toxic, or simply no longer served a positive purpose in my life. The ripple effect of these decisions can be heartbreaking when you're single ... and absolutely gut you from the inside when you're a mother. You realize that fumbling through life is no longer "okay". You're here for something big, something you can't quite name yet. It calls to you on sleepless nights and lets your mind race with ideas.
And what of these mistakes? Have they rippled so big and so loud that you can't reverse or re-route their effects? I'm here to assure you that isn't the case. There is always, always a way to glean the lessons from those bumps in the road (or Grand Canyon-sized blunders, in my case) and utilize them towards your ultimate purpose. I like to take these baby steps towards loving myself, re-routing the ripple effect of my mistakes and ultimately experiencing joy from the process:
The #1 thing I have heard while navigating a crisis was “Let me know if I can help!”.
My knee-jerk reaction has always been, “Hm. That’s an odd thing to say”.
Of course you CAN help!
The question is: will you?
1. Bring meals to the family and/or organize a meal sign-up for your group/church/community so they won’t have to worry about one more thing this week.
2. Offer to pray with them, or write texts/emails/letters of encouragement.
3. Parents often feel isolated during a family crisis. Will you continually check on the family in person to see that EVERYONE is functioning?
4. Offer to run errands for them. During a crisis, parents who are normally on top of their game are known to go into ineffective mode. Running simple errands like returning library books, dropping off/picking up dry cleaning, running carpool – is a HUGE help.
5. Offer to babysit their other children (if any) so they can present a united front at the hospital, courthouse, etc.
6. Sit with them at the hospital (or other potentially uncomfortable location), so they don’t continue to feel isolated and adrift.
7. Check in more than once a week, to make sure Mom/Dad/Both are going okay emotionally. (and if not, provide as much emotional support as you can)
8. Offer to start a caringbridge.com support page, to wrap them in as much team support as possible.
9. Gently, very gently, coax mom out of the house. If she’s got other children, she’s likely using her daily work as a means of keeping her sanity above water. Assure her that it is okay if she steps out for a latte, then make sure to get her laughing while she’s out!
These are the things that have been a help and a healing experience for us during the midst of our trials. Knowing deep down into your core that there are people out there who care about you and genuinely want to help do immeasurably more than a flippant “Aw, that sucks” or “Gee, wish I could give you advice” (both of which have happened to us by well-meaning folks).
“You never know how far reaching something you say or do today will be in the future” ~ B.J. Palmer