We See You, Mothers.
The image said “You are Invited to Join Us for a No-Stress Gathering!” It went on to describe a pampering environment with haircuts, nails, and other surprises.
No one, not even me, could have predicted what those surprises were going to be.
See, for foster, adoptive, and kinship mothers, Mother’s Day is not a day filled with love and honor where the kids in their home demonstrate typical “we love you, Mommy” feelings and actions. For those who parent kids from hard places, these days which would normally be celebratory are actually painful for children who have suffered the relational trauma of being separated from their mothers and/or fathers. There is no removal from a family unit that doesn’t involve a break in emotional connection that is so significant that it has a biological impact of the developing brain and body of that child. And when their brains and bodies are reminded of the loss of that parent, they experience a deep grief that comes out in all kinds of behaviors and actions that don’t involve cuddling and smiles.
I thought that sharing about this Mom’s Night In event could be a great opportunity to reveal a little bit of this reality to the community and ask if there might be those that would be willing to step into the gap with us and provide tangible resources that will help these mothers to feel loved, especially as they walk in the grief and loss with their children. So we sent out a letter asking if people would be willing to provide services or materials that would really show the moms that their struggle was seen and appreciated; we had NO IDEA what was about to happen.
Daily, we received call, emails, and deliveries of chocolates, bath bombs, face masks, lotions, tea, nail polish, coffee cups, t-shirts, handmade jewelry, and treats. As I would walk into my office, I would be overwhelmed by the new collection of items that had arrived, and as tears began to fill my eyes, all I could think is, “Wow! They really care.” We even had many “ninja” deliveries of people who ran into our office, dropped off gifts, and left before we could catch their names (if this was you, please let us know, we’d love to express our gratitude personally).
As we set up for our mothers to arrive, I had to get creative in displaying all of the amazing things that had been given, and I was again filled with the sense that the community was sending an important message to these mothers….We See You.
The moms arrived and exclaimed as I walked them from station to station to show them what had been donated, crafted, and chosen just for them.
“This is for us? All of this?”
“Oh, I have been waiting all week for tonight – this is absolutely amazing!”
“This is making my whole year!”
And on and on.
Then, there were the moms who stopped, looked, and allowed silent tears to fall down their cheeks as they felt seen, valued, and treasured.
To all of those who participated in creating this amazing opportunity for these mothers, we thank you and appreciate you joining us in building a supportive community around those who are doing the amazing and heartbreaking work of leading children to healing.
The goal of the RESPITE (Resources, Education, & Support for Parents | Interventions for Trauma-Sensitive Environments) program is to equip families and communities to engage in healing children from hard places. There are many ways that we do this – both with children and their families and with the communities that surround them – through educational and support opportunities. When we do this well, we can decrease the prevalence and impact of domestic abuse, poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, trauma, and other issues facing our communities.
We invite you to become a partner in this work with us. One pressing need that we have is finding Whole Family Partners (WFPs) that would commit to helping us provide wraparound case management and services to strengthen and equip families who have asked for support as they engage in this hard work. Each WFP has the opportunity to provide direct support to one family through a monthly commitment of $90/month.
If you are interested in being part of the community that cheers these parents on and helps them to stay in the trenches,
please contact me at [email protected] or 714-515-3094.