Oh you know the rest…don’t pretend you don’t.
So today’s title even makes me a little nauseous. I’m not in a habit of a) quoting James Taylor…there’s nothing wrong with James Taylor, I grew up listening to him by way of my Mom’s record collection (I mean come on…”Fire and Rain?” Forget about it.), but his words don’t typically come spilling out of my mouth, b) coming off so flowery…”let’s all love one another!”…bleck, or c) writing about things that sound preachy. I apologize in advance. Truly.
Several weeks ago the father of a former classmate of mine passed away. He was too young, and I feel like WE are too young to lose parents, and I was and am absolutely devastated for him. My Mom always speaks of her Dad’s funeral (she was only 28 when he died) and how touching and wonderful it was to see people she’d not seen for years. It was so important to see how many people were impacted by her Dad and who were there to support her. I decided that this was a funeral I should attend. Sure, I hadn’t seen my classmate more than a few times in the past 15+ years. And yes, I’d only dealt with his Dad in junior high when I was madly in love with said classmate and I called him 48 times a day. But when I did, his Dad was lovely to me, and I do so adore this classmate even though we’re barely friends anymore.
Some friends and I ordered flowers and made plans to attend the funeral. It fell on one of the two days I was home ill a couple weeks ago so I ended up missing it. I did my best to offer my support through Facebook and the online guestbook in hopes that at the end of the day he would know that people care and support him. Even people who aren’t a part of his life anymore.
Through the writing of this blog I’ve struggled with how to promote it. Not one for shameless self-promotion, I wasn’t even publicizing it on my personal Facebook page initially, because it seemed too personal for the masses. Do I really want a guy I dated in seventh grade knowing the ins and outs of my personal life 25 years later? Are these girls I haven’t seen or been friendly with since high school going to read it, hate it, laugh at me, and think I’m ridiculous? Am I the only step-parent struggling and will everyone else think I’m inept? Do I want stories of past depression and the struggles we’ve faced with our marriage to reach the hands of…well…everyone we know?
Eventually, my desire to have readers overruled my insecurities, and I started to share the link with people. Small groups at a time. And do you know what happened? Well…yes…some people did ignore it. Some people checked it out and never responded or, from what I can tell, read it again. But more importantly, most people embraced it, shared it with friends, have commented, have defended me if they felt it necessary, and have been more supportive than I ever would have imagined. People that have nothing to gain, owe me nothing, and who haven’t seen my face in five, ten, some even close to 20 years. It has been truly amazing to experience this kind of support from people that aren’t in my immediate circle of friends.
Over the weekend I saw a lot of dialogue about what people think does and does not make for a “good parent.” It seems, even those of us who are usually unwavering in our confidence in our parenting skills, question ourselves sometimes. If we’re challenged on a day we happen to be down, or overtired, or stressed, it feels like we’ve had the wind knocked out of us. I know so many single mothers, working mothers, stay-at-home mothers, step-mothers, and every single one works their a-s off to be sure their children are safe, happy, healthy, and moving in the right direction. Do any of us need any more challenges than we already face every day? Do we need additional noise and negativity? Do we need the critique of others?
Here is my point because I fear I’m babbling (I’m exhuasted!)…maybe it never occurred to me that support from women I’ve not been close with since Junior High School would be so welcome and become so important to me. Maybe I never knew what it would feel like to have my best friend from kindergarten come to my defense…or more than that…maybe I never realized just how nice it would be to communicate with her regularly again. Maybe there are things I can do to support people that I certainly care about, but are not in my immediate circle of friends, that would mean the world to THEM as their support has meant the world to ME. And if that’s the case…and it’s so easy to offer support or a kind word or just a smile or emoticon (for the record…I loathe emoticons)…why wouldn’t I do that? If for no other reason than to foster a larger community of people that wants to remain positive, drama free, and supportive of each other.
For some reason, especially here in the Midwest, we feel a need to keep out of other peoples’ business. Minnesota nice can often result in people being detached for fear of “intruding.” Well here’s the thing…your support and kindness? It has been truly inspiring and lovely and it’s what has kept me going on days I haven’t felt like I have anything to say or haven’t felt like writing. If returning that favor means I need to spend a little more time on FB checking out what’s going on with everyone and offering a word here and there to simply say “keep on keeping on” then I will do it. If it means making room in an already disgustingly packed schedule to meet-up with old friends I will happily do it. If any of this can result in all of us collectively feeling more supported, then I say let’s do it, because this life of ours is too hard to be going it alone.
TODAY: What if we make an effort to be a community of people who support each other, encourage each other, and cheer each other on? What if we’ve been avoiding it, for fear of intruding, when it might actually be helpful and welcome? And what if, in those instances where we question whether or not our support is even wanted, we just throw caution to the wind and offer it up anyway?