My friend, Sue exemplifies the godly advice to “love the people in front of you.” Every week, she hosts a playgroup for over seven mommas and their toddlers. Sue meets an often unspoken but critical need for moms of littles: fellowship and rest.
Fellowship: Women need fellowship. Talking actually makes us happier. But for many moms in the babies and toddlers phase, the opportunity doesn’t arise often enough. As much as I enjoy conversations with my 4 year old, it doesn’t fit my need. Most evenings, my husband‘s word quota for the day has been reached and he needs some quiet. I, on the other hand, have an achy longing for adult interaction! I need a forum where I can fellowship regularly.
Sue creates that forum. Having an outlet to mutually meet other moms’ social longing has been good for me, good for my husband who is no longer the primary recipient of my word dump and good for my friends (and good for my friends’ husbands). Sue makes us feel like our visits are wholly good for her too. She lives out the Romans 9 call to love sincerely and show hospitality. She doesn’t make me feel like an object of ministry- she makes me feel like a friend.
Rest: Moms are tired. For our households, we are teacher, cook, maid, nurse, entertainer, manager, financial planner, legislator, policewoman and justice of the peace. With all my duties, brushing kids’ molars and finishing the dishes before I fall asleep equals success. So organizing play dates to meet my word quota becomes another back burner thing to get around to.
Sue crops out all the layers that keep moms from hosting play dates regularly: she posts a semester-long standing invitation, emails a weekly reminder, childproofs the room, sets out toys and craft supplies, prepares snacks, and hugs us when we walk in the door. She doesn’t stop there. She makes a tasty, healthy, kid-friendly lunch and treats moms to deli sandwiches and a lovely salad or warm soup! By Friday I would be eating my daughter’s sandwich crust and fistfuls of dry cheerios for lunch if it weren’t for Sue. Going out is usually stressful, but when I am at her house, I can rest.
More: For those of us living far from family, Sue is like a local mom. She listens to our good news and our hardships, encourages our hearts and prays for us in big things and small. She pours into the little hearts of our children with genuine interest. She plays with them and their artwork decorates her walls. She invested in toys, sippy cups and even a pack n play so that no mommy has to miss a meeting over the nap schedule. Also, her guestroom is open to our relatives when they visit. Sue’s door is always open to any newcomer mom. To her, there’s no such thing as a stranger and there’s no such thing as overstaying our welcome.
Stains, noise, strange smells and countless interruptions come with hosting toddlers. Sue sacrifices her privacy to curious little explorers and her upholstery to snot, spitup and pee (yes, it has happened). Sue makes her house an easy place to be. I never feel like my children are a nuisance. I never feel the need to follow my kids around with a broom and rag. I never feel guilty about eating too much of her food. I never feel bad about arriving late (or early) or leaving early (or late). Instead I can breathe free and enjoy a full blessing.
Sue offers a solution for the persistent isolation and loneliness that many tired mommas face. Her home is a hub for our much needed fellowship with other women in our stage of life. And I am thankful for the lessons she has taught me both in kitchen conversations and in watching her live out a joyfully obedient life. I hope I use my own retirement so selflessly. Sue and her husband Bryn do not squander their retirement on trivialities and indulgences. They are investing in the kingdom through their selfless service and consistent availability to the people in front of them.
One mom suggested that Sue write a book about the adventures of hosting toddlers. Until she does, we have this blog post to tell our side of her story. For Christmas, we made her photo magnets of our kids (above). I hope that, even though we don’t have the ability to serve her the way she does us, she knows how much we admire her and are thankful for her.
I hope Sue’s story will be 1) affirming for moms who sense the need for help and fellowship and 2) inspiring for other women to help moms near them using Sue’s model! Share this post with mommies you think it will encourage and women you think it will inspire.