I am not a Southerner. I still don’t fully understand the double-name thing, I didn’t have a clue what “smocking” was before I had children (my deprived children still do not have anything appliquéd), and sweet tea makes me gag a little.
I am a Midwesterner through and through, all the way to my propensity for traveling in sweatpants and penchant for ranch dressing.
But one thing Southerners and Midwesterners have in common is their desire to feed people.
New baby? Take them a casserole.
Death in the family? Deliver a meal.
Just moved to the neighborhood? Introduce yourself with some cookies.
I have been on both the giving and receiving end of many a meal train (bless you, Take Them a Meal and Meal Train), and the gesture has always been a simple, yet incredibly thoughtful, way to express comfort, solidarity, and support for a family in need.
As a giver, sharing food is a way to do something. Thoughts and prayers are very important, of course, but I usually have a desire to help out in a tangible way.
On the receiving end, I have learned that accepting such aid is also a way to help. I know that I always feel good when I can take the stress of cooking off a family for at least a night, so by letting someone help me, I provide them the opportunity to feel good as well.
Moms are usually very quick to offer help but are not so good at asking for it. By our very nature, we like to take care of others and aren’t so great at being taken care of. For that reason, I try to avoid telling that mom of a new baby or friend dealing with a tough spot to “let me know if you need anything”… because she won’t ask. I know I probably wouldn’t. Instead, I ask when I can drop off dinner or come by to help with folding laundry/washing dishes/holding a baby.
Moms just know what needs to be done. Whenever my own mom comes to visit, the kitchen is always spotless, towels always get folded, and my girls always have the best guest story reader. I never ask for any of these things, but it’s in a mom’s DNA to assess the situation and do the things.
That’s why it was no surprise that when my daughter’s kindergarten teacher broke her elbow this fall and had to miss about six weeks of school that a gaggle of moms banded together to throw the class Christmas party on about a week’s notice.
A text thread that began with four moms quickly doubled. On the actual day of the party–which at my daughter’s school is traditionally a very simple affair lasting only about an hour–there were easily half a dozen moms in attendance, and those who weren’t able to come sent treats. Each child was sent home with a gallon-sized plastic “goodie bag.”
Moms want to help.
And they’re good at it.
A good friend tells her children that if they are ever in trouble when she or her husband isn’t around, they should look for a mom with kids. When I told my husband that I was going to adopt this excellent piece of advice, he scoffed a little and said that our girls could also look for a dad with kids. And while I totally agree…I think we all know who is more likely to have a band-aid, a snack, and the ability to comfort a distraught child.
Call it what you will, but I am so grateful for this village/tribe/sisterhood of mothers–those I know and even those I don’t. I know that if I need help (even when I don’t ask for it), there will be moms out there to offer it. And in turn, I will do my very best to return the favor.