I’ve told this story a few times, but it was one of those pieces of advice that really sticks with you.
After Sadie was born and I returned home to Kansas after delivering her in Alabama, my MOPS community flooded our home with meals. My mother-in-law was staying with me at the time to help with the girls while Jamie finished his deployment, and I remember sharing with her how guilty I felt receiving these meals. These friends had their own families to worry about (all of them with young children), but they still took the time to purchase ingredients and cook for me, drive it over, and visit with us.
And I just felt guilty receiving the help. Weird feeling; Hard to explain. I shared this with my mother-in-law one day, and she quickly responded back that it’ll be my time soon to be the giver, and that when it’s my time, I shouldn’t question myself but just give generously however I can to help someone in need.
But that in this moment I was the receiver, and that in life these seasons go in ebbs and flows for every single one of us. She encouraged me to remember how much I appreciated these meals and to pay it forward when those around me inevitably went into seasons of being the receivers.
I’ve never forgotten this conversation, and it’s been so true that we are all on a rollercoaster of bobbing in and out of seasons where we have the ability to give but where we also fall into experiences where we benefit from receiving.
The last two months of being a new mother of three has opened my eyes in new ways to the generous hearts of those we’ve adopted as our community.
I haven’t felt guilty this time receiving their help or their gifts but rather have used this experience to make many mental notes about how THEY have made me feel and about how I can then show others this kind of love when they need it.
You learn more and more about life with additional trips around the sun you take, and one big thing I’ve learned is that generosity should never be a “tit for tat” thing; Give when you can, without expecting anything in return. Blessing others this way is just the most beautiful thing.
Whew. Can you tell I’m kinda sorta passionate about this? I think the world would be a much better, happier place if we thought about ourselves less and kept our eyes open wider for how to breathe life selflessly into others. AMEN?!?! AMEN!
So I’d love to share a few stories with you about how others creatively breathed life into us this summer. I hope this list gives you brand new ideas for how be a community for someone around you who may really need you.
When you deliver a meal to someone who is overly distracted by whatever life has handed them, a meal to enjoy at home is LIFE GIVING. I always knew that it was kind to bring someone a meal after they had a baby, but WOW WOW WOW – these meals have blessed us. These meals not only nourished my family, but they allowed me to focus on other things without using space in my brain (and time in my day) to figure out how to get food on the table.
I had one friend bring a tub of ice cream and fresh batch of homemade cookies with her meal. She ALSO brought a bag of frozen dough to bake another time with the girls. SO THOUGHTFUL. My kids loved the sweet treat (we never have ice cream in the house, lol), and they loved the activity of baking the frozen dough with me later.
Meals do not have to be homemade to be GRATELY appreciated. I had one friend drop off a dozen Dunkin Doughnuts AND a tray of Chick-fil-a chicken minis. Isn’t that a great idea? Breakfast, lunch, snacks… all taken care of thanks to a sweet girlfriend. And you know what else? She dropped these off on my porch as a surprise because she didn’t want to bother us, but called me to tell me to run out and pick them up off the porch. Doubly thoughtful.
Don’t limit yourself to only bringing someone a meal to eat for dinner. Breakfast is just as essential and has the powerful ability to start the day off on the right foot. I had two people bring us a big batch of cinnamon rolls, which was SUCH a treat for all of us! Hadley’s speech teacher made them in her kitchen, and another friend scooped them up from a local popular bakery. So appreciated. To see my girls licking their lips with anticipation for breakfast (that I didn’t have to prepare) was a welcomed site to an overtired mom.
I had someone bring me a meal one solid month after I had Jillian. In my mind, I felt silly accepting it because she was already a month old. But my goodness, seeing her walk in with dinner and not having to worry about what to feed my family that night was a welcomed site. I was in the thick of it with adjusting to having my hands full, so a “delayed” gift of a meal a month later was so incredibly thoughtful.
SHOWING YOUR KIDS HOW TO LOVE OTHERS
One of my girlfriends blew me out of the water one morning. She texted three of her friends who had all had babies within the last two weeks and rounded up our Starbucks orders. She then took her kids with her, purchased our orders, and then drove around hand-delivering them to each of us. She claims that she had nothing to do on her day off, so she wanted to love on her friends with her kids in tow. ISN’T THAT AMAZING? What a great idea. Her daughter was the one who rang my doorbell and handed me my coffee (she’s six), and I just smiled and tucked away that idea for later. What a great mom and a great friend.
COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE
If your recipient likes coffee, then coffee is an easy thing to give. 🙂 When Jillian was a week old, two friends texted me asking for my coffee order. They arranged between themselves who was going to pick it up, and then they showed up to love on me for an hour via their conversation and company. Sipping coffee in my pajamas with sweet friends was such a nice way to start the day. They probably thought nothing of the $5 coffee and coming by to chat for an hour, but it meant the world to me. It gave me adult conversation and some laughs to get me through the day.
THE GIFT OF SLEEP
I’m not sure I slept more than 45 minutes at a time for the first five days of Jillian’s life. It was hard and caught up to me quick. Then I came down with a roaring case of mastitis that left me in tears, so my mom called Jamie to ask about helping, packed a bag, and came to stay the night. She told me to pump a bottle and go straight to bed. She moved Jillian’s bassinet to the living room and only came to wake me up when Jillian needed to eat. She spent the entire night rocking her, feeding her that one pumped bottle, and giving me sleep.
I remember so clearly waking up the next morning feeling like an entirely different person than the one that went to bed. The medicine had kicked it and my body had rested. She didn’t have to spend a dime; She just gave me the recharge I desperately needed to take care of my babies.
I laugh when I think about one of my closest friends arriving at my house to watch The Bachelorette and pulling out a bag of homemade muffins and a bottle of wine. “Muffins for the kids, wine for you.” I enjoy all kinds of wines, so that was a sweet gift, but the muffins were the biggest hit for our big girls! They took care of breakfast for the next few days.
Another sweet friend came over to visit the baby and deliver a meal, and she brought a $3 bottle of wine from Aldi to crack open with me. She said it was her favorite bottle and loved that it didn’t cost much. It was delicious! Sipping a glass of wine with her while a fellow relative watched the girls was so nice. Good company, a tasty glass of wine, and hilarious conversation was such a mood boost to a freshly postpartum mom.
I had three or four friends actually ask me for my dinner preference. They all gave me 2-3 options and let us pick. I have never done that before, but I thought this was the best idea! People just blow me away.
BED TIME/QUALITY TIME WITH OLDER KIDS
All parents know that bedtime with littles ones often feels like a marathon and can take an hour (or way more). During my mother-in-law’s weeklong visit, she put Hadley and Sadie to bed every night. She took care of their bath, pajamas, teeth, reading books, and getting/keeping them in bed. And I just got to focus on Jillian. Ah. Giving a new mom time to spend with her baby by taking care of her older kids is TREMENDOUS.
FETCH ME/UBER EATS/ETC.
One of my friends came to visit and gave us a gift certificate for Fetch Me, which is a local company that delivers meals. Ummm, heck yes! We saved it for a night that we had zero time to figure out dinner and ordered Five Guys (I didn’t tell Jamie that it was coming, so he was PUMPED when the doorbell rang, haha!). Absolutely brilliant alternative to bringing someone a meal! This was also her baby gift to me… so smart, right?!
IF YOU CAN, GO.
My bestie spent the money, adjusted her schedule, made childcare arrangements, and flew all the way down to lend her helping hands. Jillian’s fussiest weekend so far was actually the weekend she was here, so I really needed and appreciated her. Sadie was also at the height of her adjustment issues behavior-wise regarding the addition of a new baby, so Jessica’s presence was essential. She came with an activity for the kids, a birthstone necklace for me, and fancy coffee for Jamie. I’ll never forget this IMMENSE act of kindness, ever.
Whew, that was a lot! The act of being the receiver of kindness and acts of service is very humbling, but I feel a newfound sense of excitement to pay all of these lessons and ideas forward.
Can you recall a time that someone blew you away with an act of service? I would love additional ideas and stories! Truly can’t get enough of them!
Hi! I’m Erica, and I absolutely adore sharing my life on this website with you! I come here almost daily to blab about all of the things related to being a regular wife and mother in today’s ever-evolving society. I share about our new home, what’s on our kitchen table, what we’re hanging in our closets, where we’re traveling to next, my crazy 5 a.m. work outs, how I make time for girlfriends, our faith, and much more. We always have a lot of balls in the air and somewhat thrive on the chaos. I believe in the power of story-telling as a form of inspiration and entertainment, so I’m here to do both! I was born and raised in north Alabama and recently re-planted roots here again after my husband transitioned out of the Army (he is now in the Reserve and it’s going so well!) I’m a super proud mom to two little girls (ages 5 and 2) who seem to be the stars of the show around here (for good reason – they’re pretty great!) I’m so glad you found me and are here reading! I hope we can get to know each other here on the blog as well as Facebook and/or Instagram. xoxo