Last week I was quite a social devil. I went for a seminar, a mommies group and also lunch with a mix group of young professionals and mommies. It was a beautiful glimpse beyond my own walls. Gave me the chance to dress up and play adult:).
For one thing, I was the only divorcee.
But that's only because divorce is not allowed in the Philippines where some of them hail from. In fact, Philippines is the only country in the world, apart from the Vatican, to still uphold this law.
So two of them are separatees.
One has been for the last 15 years (!!) and the other is a young mom ( late 20's ish) who's had to leave her toddler back home with her mom to make a living here and send money back home.
Both of them are deeply devout Christian women, so while they cannot get legally divorced by law, they also find themselves not able to move on and find new love again, because that would be adultery.
I'm not getting into Political or Religious rights and wrongs here. Just trying to paint a picture of different lives.
Now obviously, I'm not sighing a relief that I could divorce!
It's just that I realised, the transition that I cried over and endured through? I at least got a shot at moving on into a new love and letting Mark go free too.
Secondly, blended families are not uncommon.
Another girl I spoke to was from a blended home and she'd had a hard time learning to love and forgive her step dad and step sister.
Until, she realised that God was calling her to see, that if she loved her mom, and her mom loved them, she needed to extend the grace too.
Please remember that while I always laugh my situation off with a "we're functionally dysfunctional" quip and a chuckle, it is Not a default outcome of blended homes. Christian or otherwise. It takes work, patience, a big sense of humour and an overdose of God's Grace. Not to be stepped into lightly. These are kid's lives and your mental health too.
So while blended families are not uncommon, mine though, is a testimony. This is not a brag, this girl's story made me see the abundant protection I live under.
Thirdly, Sickness and Diseases don't spare by merit.
Another mom has 2 kids, below 10. When you and I were out Christmas shopping last December, she'd just received news that she had cancer stage 2.
She's halfway through chemo already and has radiation to face next.
On her good days, she drives the boys to school, meets us for a nice cup of coffee, prays with us and then goes back to mommy hood.
There are lots of bad days too when she can't even face the day.
Btw, 6 years ago, her husband had beaten cancer too.
I've never seen her without a bright, wide smile.
I've had an aunt who died of suspected cancer, another from cardiac arrest.....we can't choose what we get struck with physically.
Of course I try to make intentional choices, so that I can 'look good for my husband', and 'wanna live healthy for the kids'.... but I got to thinking: I've complained and rolled my eyes over my fluctuating weight over the years, but all the while, it was just down to what size dress, and not 'will the insurance cover this?'.
Fourthly, it's not uncommon to marry a younger man.
So while I'm still an exception to the rule in my social circle, it was refreshing to meet at least 2 other women with younger husbands.
They're just as loved, hugged, looked after, bugged and cherished as I am with Shabin.
Same things make our world go round as "normal" marriages.
One sentiment we have in common: " no one would bat an eyelid if we were men with much younger women, right?"
So society at large still holding out on that acceptance I see!
Fifthly, I've now over the years, met 5 moms who've had to leave their kids with their parents or husbands and go out to a different city or even a different country to live and earn a livelihood.
To be honest, several years ago I was a bit judgey about these scenarios. I used to be slightly on a high horse about gender roles in the family bread earning department.
Then I became friends with a sweet couple where the wife was the one to go out to office and the husband was a stay -at-home -dad. I used to be a bit snobbish about how "it isn't right...”
After getting to know them though, hanging out with them, I realised that he was a better home-maker than many women I know, and that the since the wife was better qualified, she got home a salary he wouldn't be able to.
He wasn't bringing home the bacon, but boy did he make a mean pork roast!
Back to these mommies: knowing the way men and women are wired, ( yeah fight me, we're not the same), and as a loving mom myself, I can guarantee you this: these women have a lump in their throats and a pit in their stomach everyday they're away from their home.
And they push through, and do what it takes.
They video-call, smile for the kids and listen closely to their tales, cry like babies after the call is done, wash their face and attend the next meeting with their heads held high.
So now my prayer list includes praying for these mommies, as I pick up after my kids' messes with gratitude in my heart.
I hope this blogpost reminds you to stop and smell the roses. Literally too if you can.
Someone could learn from you or teach you something.
I want to end with an imagery for you to think about.
There's a collection of roles at play everyday. They're emotional, physical, mental and spiritual. Like a mix of cloth patches.
What emerges as a whole tapestry woven together, is a woman.
She is a whole piece, but also several different intricate patterns.
Sewed together and made pretty and strong.
The patchwork Woman.
Happy Women's Day.