This blog usually focuses on how important a stay-at-home mother is to her own family, but today I want to talk about how necessary we stay-at-home moms are to our communities. Fairly often, when the topic of my vocation comes up with other professional women, they’ll tell me that they believe stay-at-home moms are important and necessary. I always felt like this came with a bit of condescension, because it’s obviously not important enough for them to do it themselves. This past month, however, a car accident and its aftermath made me realize anew the importance of having stay-at-home mom friends in times of crisis.
On Thanksgiving weekend, my husband and I were driving home from a date when we were side swiped by a reckless driver and knocked across the median into oncoming traffic, where we had a head-on collision with two cars. The culprit fled the scene, but there were no fatalities, thank the Lord. One of the other drivers and both of us had to be airlifted to the nearest hospital with a trauma ER as a precaution because crashes as bad as ours usually produce concussions and other internal injuries. I spent over five hours in a neck brace on a back board, getting x-rays, a CT-scan of my neck and brain, an ultrasound of my abdomen and heart to check for internal bleeding, and extensive bloodwork. Amazingly, my husband and I were released that night with no major injuries save the whiplash and extensive bruising, and we saw the other woman sitting up in her room as we left, looking pretty good, considering. It was one of the most terrifying evenings of my life, and we are so, so grateful to be alive.
We have wonderful neighbors (who all work outside the home), and they truly were helpful over the weekend, especially my friends who drove all the way into LA at midnight to pick us up from the hospital and my next-door neighbor who came over when our babysitter had to leave and stayed the night with my kids until we got home. Another neighbor called me from the grocery store the next day and brought me milk and eggs, and all of them told me to let them know ANYTHING I needed help with. I felt so cared for throughout the weekend. Then the work week started, my husband had to go back to work (in much pain, but without children), and I was home alone with four children and whiplash so bad I couldn’t turn my head or bend over, but no one around here was home to help me. Thankfully, my sahm friend Sarah drove 30 minutes over from our old town with her boys to spend the day taking care of my kids, made us tacos for lunch, baked up my overripe bananas into muffins, washed my dishes, ran my dishwasher, and generally kept me sane, all on her little guy’s birthday! My working friends here wanted to help me, but Sarah was the one who actually had the flexibility to do so when I needed it. Later that week, I really needed to get to the DMV (30 minutes away) to get a new driver’s license (mine having disappeared somewhere between the accident and the ER), but even after texting everyone around here, I couldn’t piece together someone to drive me over to the DMV, sit with me for 1-2 hours, and drive back, PLUS friends/babysitters to watch my kids while I did all that. Eventually, after two days of trying to make something work, my husband had to take the day off, we dropped the kids off at our Community Bible Study, and he took me to the DMV, I waited over an hour, and we got back just in the knick of time to pick the kids up at the end of CBS, and headed home, totally exhausted. What an ordeal it was, and how simple it would have been if I’d just had two SAHM friends around here–one to watch all the kids, and the other to run me to the DMV. Just two available friends would have made a world of difference to me.
In the past two weeks of recovery, many friends have offered their help, and one of the blessings in suffering like this is finding out how many good friends we have here. But it has struck me just how much the need for help doesn’t fit conveniently into after-work hours. When I need groceries, I need them before 5 pm, because I have little people who can’t wait until 7 to eat. If I need help running errands such as DMV and doctor’s appointments, those are all in the 8-5 window. It’s not that my working friends wouldn’t want to help me; they simply are limited in when and how they can. Just like kids’ needs not being limited to evenings and weekends, emergencies–a car accident, a preschooler sticking a bead in her ear, a baby falling out of her crib, a miscarriage, a husband getting appendicitis when the baby is 10 days old, me slipping in the shower and re-breaking my foot while my husband is out of town–happen at the most inconvenient times. And homemakers are the ones who can most easily be there as back-up.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never minded being the go-to emergency contact for my friends’ kids. I’ve never had to pick up a friend’s sick child from school myself, but I know other homeschool moms who have. One friend told me years ago that her middle schooler hated after-school care so much that she was praying to find a friend with a stay-at-home mom so that she could go home with her instead of staying to be teased until her own parents could pick her up, and if I’d lived in the same town, I would have volunteered my own home. Homemakers are the core volunteers in schools (room moms, field trip chaperones), in churches (Bible study leaders, the children’s program volunteers who care for my kids while I go to Bible study, the ladies who decorate for Christmas and organize church functions), and in the community (monitoring elections, doing mercy ministry, staffing crisis pregnancy centers, delivering Meals on Wheels, beautifying the city properties, mentoring foster youth). And think about the safety that comes when an adult is at home during the day in a neighborhood (remember those Neighborhood Watch signs from childhood?), and even the blessing of homemade food at a right-after-work potluck (this is my special gift to all the other members of our community group this year). The list could go on and on. If nurturing the next generation wasn’t enough to make you feel significant, what about living a lifestyle that enables you to be there for your community when no one else can be? Society needs us, fellow stay-at-home moms!