I have been reading Ayelet Waldman’s Bad Mom, which is quite judgmental about the sanctimonious mothers who over-judge each other &, more subtly, themselves. I’ll post more about that later. What I want to write about today is the positive flip-side of moms sticking close together.
I have a friend who is going through tough times. She had her second baby four weeks ago, and six weeks ago, her husband left her. Divorce is traumatic enough, but divorce plus childbirth is something I can’t quite imagine surviving. She’s suddenly a single mom of a newborn, with a toddler too, and absolutely no money. She moved back to San Diego to be close to family. She’s going to housesit for me this summer, which will be doing me and my cats a huge favor — but until then, she and her newborn were sleeping on a pile of blankets on her parents’ floor. I loaned her the futon from our spare room. It should be a law: every parent of a newborn needs a bed. And a pillow. She didn’t have a pillow. The sleeplessness is bad enough, even when you do have a comfortable place to try to sleep.
There’s nothing like a mom in need to give me perspective about how great I have it.
But she needed more than I could loan her. She especially needed a bouncy-chair or infant-swing, someplace to put down the newborn while she takes care of the toddler or herself. My non-parenting readers (bless you) may have no idea of the significance of these little pieces of infant equipment. I don’t think I can explain it, except to say, without a bouncy-chair, a parent will literally have trouble doing fundamental things like bathing. My friend hasn’t had time to eat a full meal in a month, because her kids don’t give her the chance.
So I emailed a yahoogroups list called San Diego Parent Connection. At 7:30 in the morning. And the offers of free stuff for my friend are just pouring in.
Moms may come in for lots of criticism, but moms are also capable of helping each other out in ways that give me faith in cliched things like community and humanity and so on. I don’t know how to write this: I don’t want this to sound like, “I did a good deed, look at me.” What I want to say is, “I did a tiny thing, and a lot of people helped out, and it feels so amazingly good I may cry.”