As I entered the adult world, I had been given all the tools to be a successful career woman. I had gone to a rigorous college, been given a honors scholarship, enrolled in an exclusive honors program with one on one access to the top professors, done internships in my chosen area, completed a master's level of education, worked for years in the field, with great success. I was very prepared for professional work.
Yet when this tiny little child took my heart away, it became apparent that nothing in this world I could do would compare with the impact I could have on this little life.
My father had always told me, "do the thing that no one else can do but you." And it became apparent that no one else could be the mother to my baby and create a home life for my family other than me. I was thrilled at the prospect.
However, I had not been groomed for this new role, I had not been handed the tools to take this role up seamlessly, and I needed help. It came from some amazing places.
A dear friend, 7 years younger than me, showed up at the hospital with diapers and an outfit. I had not even realized I would be needing these things. But sure enough, they were the exact thing for that exact moment that were most imperative. My daughter left the hospital dressed and dry.
I continued to follow this sweet woman into her home, getting together with her as often as she would have me. She already had two children of her own, and her home was everything mine wasn't and mine needed to be.
T. let me in her home two or three times a week. She always was cooking and cleaning, though she did not require that her house be perfect to let me in. Far from it, she allowed me to see it messy, see the children in various stages of ready for the day, and watch as she negotiated breast feeding, meal prep, decorating, sewing, gardening, and child development activities. Her home was a bustle of activity, and so very alive. I took copious notes, and still am imitating her well loved home.
Her home was alive; with her artistic and gentle heart at the middle of it.
From her, I learned to make a chicken, make salads with every meal, draw and sit with the children, create a home that is inspiring, have a garden of herbs, to breast feed, and to nap my children. Yes, you heard it, nap.
At the time, I was still just letting my little daughter dictate when she wanted to sleep. One day, as I was sitting with her in my arms, my dear friend T. noted, "You know, she will be a much less grumpy child if you lay her down for regular naps, BEFORE she starts to get sleepy".
Ahh, the years of peace in my home this one timely advice has given me and my family. I asked her to write down a sleep/wake schedule, which she penciled on the back of an envelop from my purse. I went home, tacked that little crumpled piece of paper to my wall, and began meticulously following it.
I have been a big advocate of regular naps ever since. And my children nap regularly and are grumpy no more, and all thanks to my friend T.
As I reflect on what has made me the mother I am today, I realize solid friends are at the core of much of my successes.
For the friendship to be a gleaning one, I must have a teachable spirit in me. I must be willing to open up and allow kind individuals into my life who are one, two or even ten years ahead of me in motherhood.
And second, for it to be a grace filled one, the friend must be an unconditionally accepting one, willing to come over to my house, and have me in their home. A person willing to give me their time, allow me access to them even in their imperfections. One who can observe my life, give me tidbits of input, and be a great example of motherhood to me.
Where are you needing to open up your life to another, so you can glean from them?
It will make all the difference in the world.
Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
So a man's counsel is sweet to his friend. -Proverbs 27:9