By Martha Iachetta
My best friend recently spent several days with my family and me, happily fulfilling her auntie role and intuitively knowing exactly what I needed and when-emptying the dishwasher, wiping my son’s scrambled egg droppings from beneath his chair post-breakfast, casually exiting, boyfriend in tow, when my husband’s air-conditioner-installing temper blew up on my son when the little cherub insisted he wanted the other air conditioner in his room, the one with the buttons and remote, not the one with the dial that had just been back-breakingly deposited in his window.
We live in a two-family house with an empty downstairs apartment and begged my friend and her boyfriend to move in and stay with us. He could help my husband finally make a dent on our house full of unfinished projects and she could be my built-in companion and mother’s helper. But, alas, they have lives of their own. Her boyfriend jokingly asked, “What, do you need friends or something?” And I unhesitatingly said, “Yes!” Don’t get me wrong, I do have friends, but I do not have enough help, real help, to make my day-to-day life feel manageable.
My best friend is divorced and never had children. The paths with and without children each has its share of grief and eventual acceptance, but she serves as the road untraveled for me. And I’m sure I do the same for her. She unconditionally loved my world while here, but I could also see this morning that they were both ready to go back to their child-free lives in California. And I remain, blessed but exhausted, in mine.
I drove her to the airport only hours ago and miss her already. The extra set of hands and eyes. The ready walk taker. The laughter. The witness to my world, the sharing of hers. Understanding each other completely, treasuring each other’s joys, and concerned by each other’s sorrows. She has her stuff, I have mine, but seeing myself through her eyes was a much kinder lens than I often allow myself. She helped me remember I really am pretty good at all this: I am a good enough mother and I definitely deserve an award for working full time and consistently, albeit imperfectly, showing up for my personal, relational, and parental responsibilities.
May we all have people like that in our lives who nourish us on a regular basis. Those are the moments when our spirits connect, come alive, transcend all the worry, and infuse us with the strength to have hope and joy in the worlds we’ve created–our imperfect families in our imperfect homes in our imperfect neighborhoods in our imperfect city in our imperfect state in our imperfect country on our imperfect planet and so on and so on and so on.