I'm so mentally exhausted from prepping for my big little move. Big because it's a huge change in our situation. Little because I'm seriously downsizing and purging in more ways than one. The move is a way to get several things accomplished. In particular, money that would have been spent on rent will now be going towards some medical care I've long put off. Luckily, I'll be moving into a fully furnished home, so there really isn't any need for me to hold on to very much. That has been a blessing and a curse. In a way, I'm excited that I get to release all the old furniture (and the memories that come with it) and to start over. But on the other hand, it's been tricky trying to find a home for all this stuff. I don't want to just give it to Goodwill if there is someone in my life that has a need.
Luckily, I found one such person.
The other day, I was at Barnes & Noble. My son was happily playing with another little boy. They were playing at the train table and then later, made their way to the story telling stage and made up a play about some dragons they found. They were getting along so well that I thought I'd go find this little boy's mom and see if she might want to get together for a play date sometime.
This is where I need to tell you something about me... I NEVER do that. Making play dates with strangers is SO outside of my comfort zone. I'd rather have a root canal. I'm not even kidding. I don't really chat with other moms at the park or at book stores. I just kinda keep to myself because I figure my life will be so jacked up compared to theirs that I don't even want to deal with any questions that pop up in polite conversation. Why had I decided that I needed to meet this mom? I'll have to just blame that on God and his gentle nudges.
Okay, back to Barnes.
When I went up to meet the mom, I realized I already knew her! In fact, we had spent quite a bit of time together when our sons were first born. The two little boys that were now nicely playing together used to play together every Sunday at the church nursery. We were pleasantly surprised to run into each other all these years later. The boys thought it was pretty neat, too, that they had "known" each other as babies. We just kinda sat there saying, "Can you believe it's been so long?" After chatting a bit, I started to get that nervous feeling, not wanting to share too much about the marriage, our living situation, blah blah blah.
So she did.
Turns out, our paths had been pretty similar the last few years. We both had difficult marriages. Both tried counseling. Both realized we needed to break away. She's now divorced and living on her own with her kids... all for the best. We exchanged numbers and made plans to get the kids together again very soon.
Then the other day, I just sat up and thought, I wonder if she needs any of this stuff? I texted her about a kitchen table and chairs. Why the table and chairs over all the other items I needed to find a home for? Another gentle nudge, I guess. She responded that that was exactly what she needed. In fact, she has been without a table and chairs since leaving her husband. Her kids have been eating at the breakfast bar while she sits on the ground to eat her meals. Her kids, wanting to be with her, ask to sit on the ground, too. As much as she wants to sit together, she tells them to "stay up there."
Boy, did that take me back.
I remembered back to when my older two kids and I lived up north, just the three of us. I had a decent job, but even with all the work I did, I always had more month than money. We had a cute little (and I mean TINY) apartment, but we had absolutely no furniture. Our apartment didn't even have a breakfast bar. Our dining room set consisted of floor pillows for chairs and a box for a table. I remembered that our living room was empty, leaving us with no option but to sit on the ground to watch TV, read, play games... whatever. It was all very nomadic. Finally, a friend found out about our situation and offered us her patio furniture as a temporary fix. Looking back now, I can chuckle at the thought of redwood furniture and outdoor plasticky type cushions as my living room set, but at the time, I was so thankful for a place for us to sit.
I'm so glad that I can pay that kindness forward. I know what my friend is dealing with because I know that life. In fact, I'm kinda back in that place again. That frustrating place of striving to do what's best for the kids and yourself but getting nowhere at the same time. I understand the added sacrifices a single mom will make without ever getting an attaboy or even a little break. In fact, the average single mom gets just the opposite. They get crap from the ex, judgy looks from married moms, and no break from all the worry. I guess you just don't know how much it means for someone to reach out... to understand... until you've been there.
Earlier today, I was coordinating with my friend to take her the table and chairs. She said to me, "You have no idea how much I needed this." I half laughed, half cried.
"Actually, yes... I do know."