I was on the road for my family’s much anticipated summer vacation when I received a text from my friend Amy, whom I had not seen in over a decade. She saw my post on social media about my destination, which is where she now lived, and asked if we could get together. Gracious and thoughtful about how family vacations can be, Amy left it up to me if I wanted to see her one-on-one, get our families together, or take a pass if it felt like too much during a pandemic.
It was June, just after my kids got out of school. While we were in some ways moving out of the pandemic, the inertia of it was still in effect. I wanted to see Amy tremendously, but I had to take a beat to assess my comfort level and that of my family. We determined we would be okay meeting up. One thing led to another, and we were invited to dinner at Amy’s home.
I knew in my heart it would be great. Amy was the first friend I made when I moved to Washington over 20 years ago. We worked together for a time and then stayed connected as we both got married and had our first children. Then she and her family moved, and while we remained committed Christmas card exchangers, we had not been in touch frequently. Yet the few times we did connect, it was like old times. There was never any weirdness or blame over who was supposed to call whom. We were just two forever friends picking up where we left off.
Excitement built for me as we drove to Amy’s home. Her family greeted us at the door. We got to hug each other and meet the youngest kids who have come along since last we visited. It was surreal. While my family had seen people in the past eighteen months, this was the first time we all went to dinner together inside someone’s home. I was overwhelmed by how good it felt to receive deep hospitality again, to be invited into someone’s intimate living space, offered a home cooked meal, and made to feel so welcomed and loved. It was like waking up out of a dream. And the best part was our kids all got along splendidly.
After several hours we took our leave, armed with recommendations of things to do on the rest of our vacation. Over the next few days, Amy checked in to see how it was going and if we needed anything else. Her care rippled forward. As I reflect back on this simple dinner, I am flooded with gratitude. It is more than the fact that Amy and her family showed us a wonderful time. This interaction helped me re-engage in the world. Amy was like guide welcoming me back to life. She reminded me of the importance of connecting after so long apart, and I am trying to pay it forward as each day leads us to the next phase of this uncertain future.
What has the pandemic been like for you? Are you able to have social gatherings in your part of the world?
This is an original post for World Moms Network by Tara Bergman. Image by congerdesign from Pixabay.
Just last week, I found myself in Paris, France. I was about to meet my niece, who was studying abroad, but I gave myself an extra first day on my own. I made plans with our contributor in Paris, Marie Kléber, whom I didn’t know very well, but whom I was so excited to meet!
She met me at my hotel, and we headed out by metro to the area of Saint Martin. She helped me navigate purchasing my travel card, and led me to a trendy, “oh so good!”, vegan place for lunch. We sat on high stools looking out toward the street. We talked and talked and talked! (Mostly in English, but later switched to French!) I wanted to know all about her life. What her life was like in Paris as a mom. About the French elections happening the next day. She was curious about how World Moms Network got started, and if I had met any of the other World Moms and who! (Lucky to say, yes, I have!)
It felt surreal. I traveled all this way, and all of a sudden I have a good friend here whom I had never met before. But, it’s not a unique feeling. It’s the same feeling when Purnima from India met Ecoziva in Brazil. When Tara from Canada met Nancy in Tanzania. When Martine from the Philippines met Ruth in Singapore. When I met Mama B. from Saudi Arabia in NYC. In our own efforts we are satisfying (or igniting more!) curiosities about the world through meeting women from around the world. Woman who we wouldn’t come across in our towns or cities at home. We found them through this network.
In France I had a feeling of complete comfort in a foreign city that had just been the site of a terrorist attack the night before. After lunch Marie took me to see the statue of Rèpublique, a piece of her French heritage. Then, I assumed I’d just find my way back to my hotel on my own. I had such a fantastic time with her!!
But no, Marie, rode the metro back toward my hotel with me, out of her way. And walked me back to my hotel. She was going to tell me how best to get to a friend’s place for later tonight. It turned out it was only 2 blocks from where she lived. What are the chances of that? So, Marie insisted that she take me to my friend’s doorstep. And I insisted that she come in and meet my friend!
World Moms Network reminds me that the world isn’t so big. That there are amazing people to meet in every culture. We just have to reach out and allow ourselves to be connected. Let go of what is familiar. We may be surprised.
Marie gave me more than just great conversation, a tour around her home city, and sight-seeing tips for me and my niece. I had been feeling burnt out lately. I had spent so many years straight working and squeezing hours as though squeezing the last of the toothpaste to work on World Moms Network since 2010. And this past 100 days, watching how my own country is trying to defund the very life-saving global health programs that I’ve been writing about and passionately advocating for. Calling my Senators and Congressman. Reading. Disappointed. And on top of all that, busier in my children’s lives in my new role this year as Girl Scout Leader. And finally making exercise a priority for my health.
World Moms Network has continued to deliver while I have been juggling other life stages because of the strength of the team of women behind me. Just in case you ever thought that this site was just me, it’s sooo never been just me. Thank you to the World Moms who carry the torch when other World Moms just cannot.
It’s amazing how a conversation with a new friend thousands of miles away can take you back to what you stand for. For what you fight for. For peace. For friendship. For understanding. For cultural appreciation. For respect. For maturity. To help you find your footing. Guide you back to writing. To restore you energy.
It’s been awhile since I wrote. Thank you, Marie. I’m back.
This is an original post to World Moms Network by founder, Jennifer Burden, of New Jersey, USA.
Photo credits to the author.
Not everything that happens in life is warm and fuzzy and wonderful. Sometimes life is absolutely terrifying and paralyzing. This has been one of those weeks. Without sharing too many of the gorey details, it’s enough to say that I am now missing a golf ball size piece of my shin and had to have a skin graft taken from another part of my body to close up the hole. This story ends well as I heard yesterday that the margins are clear and the tumor was completely excised. But that is not actually what I want to talk about.
In the early moments after hearing the doctor say ‘it’s aggressive skin cancer and we need to get it out,’ my mind began to race…not so much about what the implications might be to my life if this was really bad news, but to ‘who are the people who are going to get me through this?’
Between biopsy and then surgery there was less than twenty four hours but I managed through Facebook and email to rally my global tribe. My doctor friend who could talk me through probable outcomes and what my shin will look like when it heals, to the endless Whatsapp messaging I did with Vanessa over days when she was meant to be studying for an important exam, to the mimosa morning my Amman Core came to sit on the couch with me and just listen, to the friends abroad who sent karma into the world, meditated with monks or convinced me to shop online for Furla bags to pass the time.
Too often we try and face situations alone, to be the strong one, the one who can manage everything. Society seems to value that and see it as the ultimate success.
I sit here and type this knowing that I dodged a bullet by getting the cancer out when I did. I also know that my life is richer for having a tribe of amazing people in my life. Maybe that’s what I am meant to learn from this experience…. Gather your tribe when you need them.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our contributor Jackie Jenkins in Jordan.
Photo courtesy of kizzzbeth / Flickr.
The truth about motherhood is that no one prepared me for this.
Have you ever actually admitted that, out loud? That you feel lost, unprepared, five years behind where you “should” be in raising your children?
I just did. (more…)
The author holding her son after completing the Best Buddies 5K in August 2012.
I hold my breath as my five-year old son zooms around the playground. There are children laughing and squealing all around us. Games of tag and the sound of ring-around-the-rosey sung in unison fill the evening air.
My son continues to run in circles as if he is the only child on the playground. Another child approaches him and catches his attention. He stops. My heart starts pounding and I convince myself to wait and watch before jumping in to help him navigate this brief social encounter. It’s over as quickly as it began and he is back to zooming around the playground.
Some of the moms and other children begin to stare. Most smile politely and continue on with what they were doing and I sink back into my seat, wondering what the future will hold for my son. This is a typical day in the life of my five-year old son who is diagnosed with autism and cognitive delay. While my other typically developing five-year old son is eager to play with friends on the playground, my son with special needs is satisfied to stay within his comfort zone of isolation.
Could you imagine a world without friendship? I certainly could not.
So one day I asked myself if my son is truly happy playing alone with only brief and superficial social encounters. Doesn’t he really crave friendship like his brother? Although my son is limited verbally, a single conversation was enough to clarify that he did indeed want to make friends. As his mother, I was determined to help him do it. (more…)