"My friend Christine brought us dinner!" I texted my husband. Like an angel with 3 children in tow, she drove a half hour, stepped through the kitchen door and handed me four courses. Just like that.
"What? Why? Why would she do that?" My husband all confused. And I know why.
*********I became a mother at a time when everyone I knew was off doing other things.
I became a mama when the only mothers I knew were my aunts, my Mom, the moms of friends.
I brought a baby home to a dark one bedroom apartment and a vase of flowers Mom had set next to the kitchen sink. She made us dinner that night, and, a few nights later, my Aunt down the street followed suit.
After that, I was on my own.
Some friends dropped by to visit, on a break from college or passing through. They'd come by and we'd watch movies and pretend there wasn't a baby asleep in the next room. Occasionally I'd get a babysitter and try to go out and connect with people my age but in very different stages of life.
Not surprisingly, after a while, those relationships faded into the background. I joined a MOPS group and, slowly but surely, began to embrace my new role. Bolstered by the encouragement of the new friends I made on similar paths, I was able to bloom. Not only has my confidence and enjoyment of motherhood increased, but the quality of my relationships with other women.
Women who bring each other meals when babies are sick, or husband's lose jobs, or friends have babies. Women who bring meals when friends have miscarriages, or lose parents or other loved ones. When they see someone struggling, they roll up their sleeves and get cooking.
I've been on the blessed side of this more times than I can count. When I was in a hospital with my baby hooked up to oxygen, a friend brought us dinner. When I was so sick in early pregnancy, a friend committed to sending a meal a week home. Always cheerful, sliding covered casseroles into the fridge, a quick hug and then back to the tasks of daily life.
This life is hard work. Sharing the yoke is a way, from her very own kitchen surrounded by her very own work, one Mom can minister to another. In a language all her own, she communicates: I'm sharing your burden. I know, I'm sorry, I love you. Hush, Mama, Hush.
Keep your chin up, all's well, and look, you don't have to worry about dinner tonight.
It's something the well meaning men in our lives don't always get. How something so small and seemingly minute can communicate so much. Any woman who has dinner staring her down every day at 5 pm knows that it's sometimes the small things that can break you down. How support is communicated when a burden is lifted, if only for a day.
It's why good, strong friendships matter so very much.
5 Tips for Making Meals:
1) Don't Ask. Most women will say "oh no, you don't need to do that!" if you offer to bring them a meal. Instead of asking "Can I bring you dinner?" say "What day works for me to drop off dinner?"
2) Double It. You are making your own family dinner anyway. Make it easy on yourself by simply doubling whatever you are making.
3) Don't Assign a Job. Send the food in disposable containers so that the Mom is not burdened with remembering to return your dishes. If you do send dishes you want returned, label them!
4) Make What You Know. Do not worry if your food is not gourmet, organic perfection. Anything you do will be a blessing. Other than steering clear of known allergens, just relax and cook what is easy and natural to you. Even if all you are able to give is a main course, it is still a big help!
5) Expand The Blessing. If a family is in a particularly long season of hardship, consider setting up a meal registry such as mealbaby.com or takethemameal.com. Send out an email to mutual friends inviting them to take part in the blessing.