I was in the wedding of my dear college friend Meri 25 years ago, and when Meri and her husband Ray started their family, Meri’s mom Mona would stay at Meri’s house to help her.Mona would cook the meals, wash and dry and fold laundry, hold Meri’s new baby, just be there in any way she could.
And when Meri had her second child 15 months later, Mona would show up again. She’d stay with Meri and help her with the newborn as well as the older child; and after a week or so, she’d take the older child with her to her house to care for him for a while to give her daughter alone time with her newborn.
With Meri’s third and fourth child, Meri’s mom once again arrived to assist. f She was there, serving and being there for her daughter and grandchildren, while also growing their relationship.
She just showed up.
And, as her grandkids got older, she began attending their sporting events throughout the years; she wanted to be part of their lives, to see them doing the things they enjoy and are good at. Showing up shows caring, it shows being available, it shows love.
And, now her grandkids are mostly grown up and Grandma means the world to them. They know her, they care for her, and they love her because she had time for them. She was there, being present, being part of their lives. There is no substitute for in person time.
As my husband and I began having children 28 years ago, I have thought about the simple way that Meri’s folks lived out their love and devotion to their family. I strive to be that kind of mom and Omi. We learn by watching how others live, and one way you support your children is by helping with their children.
Two of my children are married now and have started their families, and I just want to be there for them.
Right now, I am in Honolulu, Hawaii where my daughter Rachel and son-in-law Stefan live with their 2-year-old daughter. I wanted to be here to share this time as they awaited their second baby, a boy, who was just born.
Naomi is so amazingly smart and beautiful and curious and lovely, and my daughter absolutely adores her baby girl, as do we all. Rachel is a fabulous and wonderful and devoted and loving and caring momma, and yet motherhood is hard and when you are expecting, it is even harder. My daughter’s husband is a pediatric resident at the local hospital here, working 12-hour days at times, and has gone two weeks without a day off, and so the last week before the baby’s due date, I wanted to be here to share this time and to just hang out with Naomi and to allow my daughter to rest a bit.
Being a new mom is hard in the most normal of situations, much less when your spouse works 12 hour days without a day off for a couple of weeks. It is exhausting and exhilarating and beautiful and fun and isolating and you are sometimes not sure if you are doing it right and you sometimes feel alone and you feel frustrated at times, and you are always tired, but then your babies are so sweet and perfect and you are thankful and it is a joy, and yet it is hard.
As a new mom, having people around helps so much, especially someone with whom you can just be yourself, like your own mom. My friend Meri told me how grateful she was for her mom helping with each of her four children that she had, and I am grateful I have this time with my daughter and her family.
My college-aged son Mick happens to also be here as he is working in Waikiki this summer. He and I took 2-year-old Naomi to play in the sand on the beach and we took her hiking to the top of Diamond Head for the view and we treated her to Mexican dinner out and we hung out with her at the house. We read to her, Mick played guitar with her and I said prayers with her before tucking her in her bed with her baby dolls and stuffed animals.
I know not everyone can get away from work to assist when a new baby is born, and I realize what a privilege it is to have flexible work hours to be able to do this, and I understand that some mother-daughter relationships are more tentative than others. But, the lesson of showing up can apply to us all in a variety of life circumstances, and, it will look differently for each of us.
I’ve learned about showing up from friends who have shown up for me over the years. When my kids were growing up, my friend Jeanie came over once a week to pick up my kids and take them on a walk to the local Round Table Pizza so I could get my writing done. Every week, she showed up; she came up with this idea and has remained close to my kids ever since, like a “Tante” — auntie. My mother-in-law helped watch my kids while I took classes fulfilling course requirements for my Master’s degree. She showed up. I think of after my accident in 2015 when family and friends showed up to the hospital, and grandparents and friends took care of my kids, and friends and family brought over meals and homemade potpie and friends sent flowers and took me to the doctor and family went grocery shopping for me; people came over to pray and sent cards and showed up with lunch.
Showing up is love in action. Show up with soup when the neighbor is home from surgery. Show up when your child has a music program at school. Show up when your dad needs prayer, in person. Show up to support your friend’s theater production. Make that phone call when God lays someone on your heart. Show up.
Showing up is simple. It’s Just Being there. Being present has no limits or have-to’s. Sometimes it’s just listening to that still small voice from the Lord that gives you ideas.
Pray. Then listen. Then act.
And, just show up and be present.
It’s all just a big miracle and blessing.