the women i pray for

I have a list. It's a list of names. Other mothers that I pray for.

I update my list every month, or as the need arises. New names get added, other names move to different categories.

My list has categories.

Pregnant women, that's one category.

But not just pregnant women. Women pregnant for the first time. Women pregnant for the seventh time. Women who continue to work and run errands and exercise as if nothing has changed, and women who spend 9 months curled up on their couches and vomiting into their toilets. Women who wanted to be pregnant, desired it, dreamed of it, prayed for it for months, sometimes years. And woman for whom a new life is an unexpected shock, joy is clouded by fear and stress, another mouth to feed, another body to cloth. Grace and peace and good health, O Lord.

The babies keep coming, the months tick by, and the names in this category come and go.

Then there are women who want to be pregnant, but aren't. Women who long to hold a baby of their own for the first time, and women who's babies are grown, and long for one more. Please God, just one more. Women who are in and out of doctors appointments, trying different diets, supplements, and medications, and each month brings another disappointment.

This category, unfortunately, doesn't change as much.

There are other categories besides these: working moms and stay at home moms. Moms who's husbands travel a lot, or are in school, like mine, and do a lot of solo parenting, and single moms who bear the weight of parenting alone. There are moms finishing school, moms attempting to home school. There are moms sitting with their children in doctors offices and therapy appointments, turning their worlds upside down for a child with special needs or health complications. And there are moms suffering through their own poor health, each day they rise above it and care for their families. Lord, hear our prayer.

There is a category for when the unthinkable happens; mothers holding their children's hands in hospital rooms. feeling the helplessness that comes with watching a child suffer. Lord, show us your mercy and love. And there are mothers saying goodbye to their children and entrusting them to the arms of Jesus. And grant us your salvation.

When I look at my list of names I am reminded that I am not in this motherhood thing all by myself. I am reminded that when I have hard day, or week, someone else is too, and I can offer my own trials up for them. I am reminded that there are other women praying for me.

When I look at my list of names I am reminded that motherhood comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and that there is no room for me cast judgments or comparisons. Because it's hard. This motherhood thing is really hard, and we are all trying our best for our families.

When I look at my list of names, I am reminded that what every mother needs and deserves is compassion, understanding, a listening ear, and a praying heart.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love

Where's My Village?

Have you seen Call the Midwife yet? I've watched all three season more times than I care to admit here. I love the birth stories, I love the self-sacrificial work of the midwives, and I really love seeing the close knit community of the East End of London.

Sometimes I even feel a little jealous of the women whose stories are told in this BBC mini series. Not jealous of the poverty, crowded living conditions, and shared toilets. But jealous of the community. To step outside and always have another woman to talk to during the day, to always have a extra set of eyes to watch out for your family, to always have other kids for your kids to play with - that's what I get a jealous of.

Motherhood in the 21st century can get a little lonely. As far as I know there are no other stay-at-home moms on my block; I don't think there are even kids younger than high-school-aged.  I often go from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm without interacting with another adult, unless we've gone to Target, but then it's just the check out person who I'm sure doesn't feel like discussing the intricate nuances of baby sleep with me. 

The old adage says that it takes a village to raise a baby and sometimes I wonder, where's my village? 

My village doesn't look the same as it would have in the 1950's. And how could it? Culture has changed so much. 

Sometimes my village looks like this:

Ah, the group texts, it's like your friends are right there with you. A nice way to vent about the nap that never was, a nice way to have a little laugh during the day, a nice way to know you're not the only one doing this right now. 

Or sometimes my village looks like this:

A big part of why I blog is the online community. Reading what other women are going through and thinking about lets me share in their lives and make friends. And hearing feedback on what I write, either in the comments or on Facebook, means a lot to me.  It says I'm not doing this alone.

Sometimes my village looks like my sister coming over to do laundry and then playing with Johnny so that I can put my makeup on in peace.

Sometimes my village looks like my husband taking Johnny for a walk so that I can have alone time to read, or write this blog post! 

Sometimes my village looks like me bringing a meal to girlfriend who just had a baby. Because my village isn't just about people helping me. I'm a part of someone else's village and they need my help just like I need theirs. 

And sometimes my village looks exactly the way I want it to look, four or five girlfriends and their kids and babies all crammed in my house, with noise and mess and chaos. And community. 

This is the hardest kind of village-building to do. Everyone one is so busy, everyone's schedules are so different, sometimes it feels like it's not worth it pack up and put on shoes and buckle car seats and maybe I should just stay home. 

But I say it is worth it. I say that nothing replaces face to face conversations. I say that nothing ministers to a bruised soul like the presence of a true friend. 

And I say all these things because I am at the end of a very long week. I'm over-tired, a little stressed, and a little crabby.  But I got to spend some time with some girlfriends this morning and it made my soul ten times lighter. It was loud and crazy and chaotic, but it was laughing together, sharing stories, sharing motherhood. And that kind of community, that kind of village, makes motherhood feel more doable and more enjoyable. 

So go find your village, wherever it is, whatever it may look like, even if it's takes effort. Because doing motherhood all alone is not how it's meant to be done. We were made for community. We were made first for God, and second for each other. 


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