When I had my second baby, I was blessed to be part of an amazing local but online community of attachment parenting mamas. I learned so many lessons of friendship and community from these women and I am still in contact with many of them, and close relationships with quite a few of them, 9 years later.
One of the norms of this group was that if someone needed help, you helped them. Period. We brought each other meals, watched each other’s kids, gave each other hand-me-downs, pumped milk for babies in need, cried on each other’s shoulders. There was some positive peer pressure involved here. It was absolutely expected that members of this group would help when needed. And in return, you would receive help when you needed it.
2008 was the year I cashed in on this arrangement. After my daughter was born in early February, the meals poured in. Some were modest, some were extravagant (one woman I hardly knew brought a full day’s worth of meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks!), and all of them made me feel unbelievably loved and cared for.
Then, in November, when my baby was only 10 months old and I was just beginning to recover from postpartum depression, my 16 year old brother died. It was tragic and unexpected and earth shattering.
As I stood in the abyss, my world upside down, not knowing what to do or how to be, my friends reached out to me in a time honored way. They fed my family. And it felt so good. I knew people didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know what to say. But they knew we needed to eat, and so they fed us. My dearest friends as well as people I’d never met “in real life” left meals on my doorstep. And by feeding us, they told us, “I love you.” And that love sustained me in a very, very difficult time.
In the years since that difficult year I have had many opportunities to “pay it forward,” to say “I love you” by bringing a meal to a homeschooling family with a new baby or one going through a difficult situation. Sometimes I rise to the occasion. Too often, I fail to take advantage of the God given opportunity to love His children in this way.
Why? Having personally known the amazing love that can be shown through this simple act of kindness, why do I fail to perform this corporal act of mercy?
There are a few reasons.
- I’m afraid it won’t be good enough. What if they don’t like the food I bring? What if I bring them the same thing they were brought the night before? The thing is, I know this is bogus. I ate a lot of soup in 2008. I ate quite a few lasagnas. I ate things that weren’t my favorite. And every bite was delicious and nourishing to my body and soul. Having food to eat that I didn’t have to prepare myself, that was lovingly prepared by someone who cared enough to take the time out of their day to make it and bring it to me, was such a tremendous blessing that I truly didn’t care what I was eating. I was so very appreciative and so very humbled by the love being shown, that I tasted only the love.
- I’m busy. We’re all busy. This really isn’t a good excuse. You’ve gotta make dinner for your family, right? Just double it, pack it up, and deliver it the next day.
- I’m lazy. I’m just sayin’. Shamefully, sometimes I just can’t motivate to do what I know I should.
If you have avoided bringing food to a family in need for any of the above reasons, here are my ideas of making it a little easier.
- Double your own dinner. As I said before you can just pack it up and deliver it the next day. Or you can make up a couple of casseroles in the morning and then deliver one to the family while yours bakes in the evening.
- Pick up take-out and deliver it. You don’t have to cook for them, just show the love.
- Bring a rotisserie chicken, a bag of salad, and a loaf of bread. Add an inexpensive bottle of wine if you want to class it up. You don’t have to show off or make it fancy. Trust me, just not having to think about what to feed people is a huge blessing.
- Bring snack food. One of my favorite new mom gifts was a box of Lara bars. All for me. You can also bring muffins or cheese and crackers or anything that will feed a hungry body. If you can’t wrap your mind around dinner, bring snacks.
- Or Breakfast Burritos. Or any other single-serving easy-to-microwave-when-you’re-hungry food that a new mom can eat with one hand or throw at an older child while she nurses the baby.
- Just do it. Do it imperfectly. Do it even though it’s inconvenient. It’ll make you feel good. And you’ll make someone feel loved.
The lessons I learned from that lovely group of women nearly a decade ago have informed my ideas of what it means to love and serve in a community. I had 10 or 15 people bring me food both when my baby was born and when my brother died. It was amazing. As homeschoolers, helping each other feed our families can build a close and loving community in a way few other things can. If you receive a request asking for meals for someone, I strongly encourage you to participate. It may seem like a small gesture or a big hassle, but I assure you, it is a powerful way to build love in your community.