Saturday, April 10, 2010

Friendship learned from children

She jumped off the bus, missing the last two stairs. This was an important day, one she had been looking forward to for a while. This was the first day she was having a friend over. It had been so difficult for her to concentrate in school that day. Even though the day was rainy and cold the weather would not diminish her joy.
She had been over to other classmates houses but never had she had one over. Her plans for the hour play date were to play with everything she owned. They were going to play with dolls, dress up, connect four, eat, and anything else she could think of.
The short walkup the driveway was covered in 4 steps as the little girls ran into the house. She wanted to give her friend the rules of the house so she showed her where to throw her book bag, coat, and shoes.
Snacks came first, by three in the afternoon hunger had built up since lunchtime. First grade was much tougher than kindergarten, no more snack time, or rest time in the afternoon. Today’s snack time is extra special- ice cream. Like everything else that happens this afternoon- it is fast, loud, and talking about future plans.
After ice cream the next stop is the dollhouse. This little girl is so proud to parade out her best toys. The friend doesn’t live in a house like this. Although this house is not big by any stretch is it is bigger than where she lives. As they are playing with the doll house the talk turns to brothers and sisters. The friend shares how she has close to 10 brothers and sisters but only two live with her because the others are just stepsiblings.
The hour and half goes by quickly and is fairly normal other than the little brother greeting the girls in his knights outfit and then being sad when the girls didn’t want to play with him.
The time was winding down and it was time to bring the friend home. The sugar buzz from the ice cream had worn off and the excitement had taken its toll. The talk was much more subdued and the conversation turned to when they would go over to the other house.
Even with all the differences the girls didn’t care. One lives in a subdivision the other in a trailer court. One is Hispanic and the other Caucasian. One does very well in school and the other has been labeled with a learning disability. My daughter is the one with the learning disability. Friendship is much simpler and possibly even easier when we are young.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Mother's Journey

The fear was someone would find out. People would think she was a bad mother, it was her fault that 3 of her kids were sitting in the county jail. The press was hounding them- they had to move. So they moved to a different town in a different county. For 5 months she kept the secret, not her neighbors not her co-workers, not even her pastor knew about her kids. They were under the impression that she only had one son.
All the pain, all the feelings of inadequacy, all the financial strain, all the worry sat squarely on this moms shoulders. Shame and pain kept her from letting others in. Lack of resources kept her three kids ages 19-23 locked up.
Then one day during a time outside her neighbor asked how long her husband had been doing wood working. The mother thought and in typical mother fashion she measured time by the ages of her kids. Then she did what she had been so careful not to do for five months she mentioned her daughters name.
It came out by accident,she hoped that the neighbor had not heard. The neighbor immediately picked up on the name and puzzled asked who this girl was. The mom was fearful she had liked the neighbor and the relationship that had blossomed. This neighbor had also invited them into a church community that they had felt comfortable in. The mom knew that the next few minutes could change this relationship.
She sighed and then told the story of her three other children. It wasn't that she was ashamed of these kids as much as she was scared of the judgment and the label that would come from people knowing. She still loved and cared for her 2 boys and daughter who are looking at 8 year prison sentences.
She knew that any type of explanation of the crime would not do justice. She knew that her kids would be judged on this one act rather than anything good they had done.
As she told the neighbor, tears swelled up in the neighbors eyes. She softly said "I wish I had known.I wish I had known so I could have been a support to you." That was the beginning of this mom's journey into sharing her pain. The neighbor encouraged her to share the story with the pastor and the church.
The mom was still very hesitant, she had been down this road before with the church and it hadn't always turned out good. But the neighbor had reassured her that this church cared and would want to walk the journey with her.
Being a small church- Sunday mornings involve a time of sharing at the end of the sermon. The mom scared and worried all week about this moment summoned the courage to stand up and go to the front. Her and her husband slowly walked down the aisle to the front. The pastor's message that Sunday had been on grace and forgiveness. There had been a few points that morning that had pierced her heart. There was a still soft voice that reassured her that these were people I can share and not hide my pain from.
As she and her husband began to share their story, eyes began to tear up. People began surrounding them with open arms of support. The pastor said many reassuring words that they would not be alone anymore with their pain. As the time began winding down a young couple came forward and asked if they could share something. The pastor not knowing what to expect granted them to speak.
This young couple began very uncomfortable and red faced. They then shared how they were not married, they were planning on it but had not made the commitment yet. They had made a bad decision and how she was pregnant. The couple like the mom had been hiding this inside due to the fear of judgment and insensitivity. The couple paused after dropping this bomb shell. They went on to explain that they had thought about other ideas of how to cover this up, but couldn't. The pastor tears running down his eyes again just hugged the couple.The couple were crying, so sad they had let so many people down, they just kept repeating sorry. The pastor just hugged them back not having any words to say.