At the risk of sounding like an enormous sap, I am a big fan of love.
The mom kind.
The friend kind.
The get-over-here-and-lay-a-big-wet-one-on-me kind.
The old-folks-holding-hands kind.
Even the fur-covered kind.
I am also a little too cynical, realistic, and practical to run around spouting sunshine and rainbows. I also, as a rule, do not talk to strangers.
I very much like the idea of spreading a little love around, especially when I feel like my life is positively overflowing with it. (Not that I want any less of my own, thank you very much. I am also pretty grabby about good stuff.)
But only if that love can be spread from a comfortable distance, where no one will misread my RBF as a lack of interest, and where I don’t have to actually interact IRL with people I do not know.
I am a little restrictive in my love-spreading comfort zone.
A few years ago I did this thing where I left positivity Post-Its all over the place. It was part of my 43 Resolutions in my 43rd year project. The project was a stupendous failure overall, but participating in Operation Beautiful was nothing but a big happiness magnifier. And that was at a time when I had very little spare positive mojo to share with the world.
Several months ago, I became aware of More Love Letters, a project where requests for love and support are met with floods (hopefully) of love letters from total strangers. This appeals to the writer in me.
It is also very much in the comfort zone of the sociopath in me. She’s harmless, really.
I subscribed to the list of love letter requests, but I never felt quite ready to send one. It fits my parameters, but it’s still a little bit of a stretch.
So today I got another batch of requests: a woman caring for her husband with Alzheimer’s who needs to know she is not alone, a 16-year-old boy who knows he could be headed for trouble who has asked to be sent away to work his stuff out, a mom who is working her way through school learning to be a midwife while raising her family and finding it HARD, and a college student who feels abandoned and alone.
Those folks need a lot of love.
And I am ready. I’m going to do it. Tonight I am writing my first love letter to a stranger.
I am going for the mom, because she’s close to my age and I can relate to how hard it is to chase your own dreams while your kids still need you and there is laundry and the yard and everyone wants to be fed MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY.
And to her I say this:
How amazing that your daughter would reach out into the world to find a flood of love and support for you. Obviously you have done an incredible job as a mother – kudos to you!
As a working mom myself (is there any other kind, really?) I can only imagine how much you have on your plate as you work toward your dream of being part of the motherhood journey of other women. It would have been easy at this point in your life to decide it was too late to do something new – to give up the dream. But you didn’t do that. And that is brave, and strong, and probably kind of exhausting.
But you need to become what you have always wanted to be. It’s an imperative.
What you also need to do is to be as generous with yourself as you have been with your family. As generous as you will ultimately be to those scared and overwhelmed moms-to-be who turn to you to be the calming presence that helps them across the finish line. I say “you need to be” – not as another thing to add to your To Do list – but as a mindset that you must allow yourself.
I don’t know anything about your family, but if you are anything like me and pretty much every woman I’ve ever met, you aren’t asking for as much help as you could. We never do. We should.
Kids can do laundry. Men can cook if we get out of their way. Friends can help with carpools. Dishes can wait a little longer.
Be gentle with yourself. Make sure you are taking care of yourself so that you can continue to take care of your people.
Take a bath.
Go for a walk.
Disappear for 30 minutes on a Tuesday afternoon and go get your nails painted (or whatever floats your boat…that’s my personal go to escapist splurge.)
Take care of yourself. Because when you get through this course, there will be all those babies waiting to meet you. You want to be in one piece for them, right?
It’s hard. It’s overwhelming. But think of how proud you will be of yourself when you realize your dream. You are showing your children the benefits of hard work, of going for what you want even when it seems impossible.
Even when you don’t think they notice, they see that. And they are proud of you.
And that’s even better than doing their laundry.
Floods of loving support,
Now I must write this on real paper with a pen in my own (terrible and borderline unreadable) handwriting. And stamp it and send it along into the universe.
It felt pretty good to write it. I hope it helps on the other end, too.
Love shared. BOOM.