Being a “Sunshine Mom”

When my son was 6 weeks old, I joined a mommy group that was organized based on geographical area and the calendar year of the births of our children. This was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Six years later, our group is still going strong.

During our kids’ first years we consulted each other on every topic of parenting: feeding, sleep training, developmental milestones, potty training, discipline, and more.

After a couple of years we debated which preschools to visit, and many of us decided to send our kids to the same preschool.

Then many of us started to get pregnant with our second kids. Our mommy group was part of a larger organization that had been established in the 1950s. One of the roles they designated for each playgroup was a Sunshine Mom Coordinator. Basically, whenever someone in the group had a new baby or needed a little extra help, the Sunshine Mom Coordinator would contact other members of the playgroup to see who could bring meals or provide babysitting or other help.

Sunshine Mom

I wrote in “My Miracle Child” about how my friends stepped forward to help when I got very depressed and suicidal while pregnant with my daughter. I updated my Facebook status about being treated in the ER, and the Sunshine Mom Coordinator took it upon herself to contact the group. For the next week meals were dropped off at my house every day so I could recover.

When I was hospitalized again later, friends bought us groceries, babysat my son so my husband could come visit me, and brought us more meals.

My mommy group has gone “alumni” now, meaning we don’t pay any membership fees, and thus have no fund to pay for parties or field trips, but many of us still get together for dinner or play dates. When one of us is sick, or stressed out about upcoming travel, we still offer to bring a meal or babysit.

Yesterday I found out that my neighbor’s teenager got arrested. She’s started drinking alcohol even though she’s still in high school. It sounds like she falls into the “mean drunk” category. Sober, she’s a lovely person, generous and quick to smile. I’ve seen her walking her dog or driving her grandfather to church.

I have never made chicken noodle soup without having to use a can opener, but suddenly, I decided to make it for our neighbor and her daughter. I used this recipe, and it was pretty easy and didn’t take long. I brought it to her door still steaming hot, and told her I didn’t mean to impose, which is of course what you say when you are about to, but I wanted to make a gesture to let her and her daughter know that my husband and I are thinking of them, and we genuinely care what happens to them. I especially want the teenage daughter to know that she matters.

I offered, if the daughter wants to, to have her spend time with my family, doing yard work, going hiking or on bike rides together. She’s dealing with a lot, physically and emotionally, and I hope that spending time with two other trusted adults and two adorable kids might give her a little perspective. For me, it’s not about charity, it’s about community.

In what ways do you support your friends or community when other people are in need? Can you think of anyone who could use a cup of coffee and a little conversation? A bag of groceries? A smile? A hug?

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