It’s a rare thing that you get feedback from people about how you affect their lives. I try to let people know what they mean to me, but I don’t often say to someone, “You really matter to me. I’m glad you are in my life. You make a difference for me nearly every day.” Who doesn’t want that kind of affirmation? I think if we all spent a little more time handing out that kind of praise, the world would be a nicer place.
Stephen and I are truly blessed. We have families that we love and get along with. We have relatives that we actually like to spend time with. I’ve heard horror stories about mother-in-laws and Stephen and I both have good ones. And while my parents are divorced, I’ve come to terms with what that means for me and have coped with the repercussions of that fairly well, I think. We love and get along with Stephen’s brother, Andrew, and his wife and often wish we lived closer to them. I love my kid and, beyond that, I actually like him. He’s funny and sweet and (mostly) a joy to be around.
Beyond our families, we have a wide–world-wide in fact-circle of friends. Some we see nearly everyday, some only once or twice or year. A few we haven’t seen in several years but are still in regular contact with. We have the normal set we’ve collected over the years by way of school and colleges. We have the group that was ready-made here for us by Andrew’s high-school friend, Amy. We’ve got friends at our church, which should sound normal but is actually a first for me. And we have two groups of long-distance friends. One is a set of people that Stephen met online several years ago, which is more common now than ever before but is certainly different from a generation ago. And the other set is our friends we’ve made at Dragon*Con.
I don’t want you to read this and think I’m bragging. I’m not. I’m humbled by the number and quality of people in our lives. For someone who grew up with a fairly small circle in high school and college, sometimes the shear number of people that we know overwhelms me.
I blame Stephen for being Mr. Social. Thankfully, it’s all his fault. I lay that at his door with much amusement and respect for his friendly, open nature.
All that to get around to telling you about one particular internet friend. Someone that I would never have gotten to meet and know without Stephen’s involvement in the online community.
At first glance, it would seem that we’d have very little in common. She’s lived all over the world (London, Tokyo, New York) and I have lived in three states, the second two only in the last ten years, all in the south. She went to a serious university and I went to a small, southern school. We don’t share the same faith. We don’t share a profession.
But somehow we do have things in common. A love of family and friends. A not-so-secret yen for romance novels. A desire to write a few things down so we can look back later and remember. A somewhat lackadaisical pursuit of handcrafts, the lackadaisical part due mostly to having to care for our families and manage our households. Oh, yeah, we’re both stay-at-home moms.
I have admired her for making some incredibly tough personal decisions and managing to thrive. I like and respect her because she’s funny and smart and a really nice person to spend time with. And in the past couple of weeks she has given me two really nice gifts. I don’t know if she intended them to be Christmas gifts, but I am receiving them in that spirit.
The first was a letter she wrote. I posted a bit about it here. It was a thoughtful, checking-in sort of letter. Since I am pregnant she wanted to be able to touch base with me in a non-intrusive way and let me know that she was thinking of me and what I was going through. Since the beginning of pregnancy is so rough for me, I found it to be an amazing sensitive thing to do. Especially since I tend to be a little internally focused during that time and sometimes am not very communicative.
The second was a song. A Bengali version of “Silent Night.” It’s so beautiful in and of itself but in email she sent me to go along with it is just as good. In it she said that I had been a role model to her as a mother and that the thought of being able to call on me for advice was enough to calm her in tough situations. Wow. Talk about affirmation.
When we first started this site, I wanted it to be a place where I could let people know what’s going on with us, but I also felt that I needed to have a “mission” in mind for my writing as well. I read several mommy blogs and while I enjoy them, they are a bit intense sometimes with the “telling it like it really is in motherhood” angle. Yes, it’s tough. Yes, it’s bittersweet. Not every day is a good day. In fact, I had a pretty tough child-rearing day just today. But the mission is to tell the tale with kindness, to have a place where people can talk and ask questions (especially about our faith since there are people of several different faiths–or non-faiths–reading here) and to hopefully be affirming and loving to people that read and to people we talk about here. Do I accomplish that every day? Probably not. Sometimes this becomes just a place to let off steam. I try to moderate that, but it does happen from time to time.
And yet, here I get the affirmation. And yeah, it makes a difference in my life. It makes me feel special and loved. So I pass it on to you, my friends and family. I have thought of many of you over the past couple of days in deciding what to say in this post. Some of you I haven’t spoken to in a while. That doesn’t mean you are not in my thoughts and prayers. Some of you I spoke to yesterday and you are just as present in my thoughts and prayers. I hope this Christmas season finds you all well. Thank you for all you do for me. I hope that I can manage to do half as much for you.