We were blessed to have Portia Allen share at our monthly Mom’s Luncheon. Portia has been in ministry for 9 years. She has had the opportunity to speak in Minnesota and across the country and is passionate about uplifting and empowering women.
Together for Good specializes in helping families in vulnerable circumstances find the support needed to get back on firm ground. I am a firm believer that when you are a parent, especially a mother, sometimes it is good to hear a genuine, “You’re doing a good job. Keep up the good work.” Being a mom with little kids, it is sometimes easy for me to take the community I am surrounded by for granted. They are supportive and quick to remind me I am a good mother, despite the many parenting mistakes I have made and will make in the future. TFG helps mothers form safe and positive communities. There’s a lot to be said about being present and talking about life and parenting. I call it “airing out the crazy”. Having the opportunity to talk about the times of struggle in an authentic way, in a safe environment is invaluable. Connecting over a time of lunch is one of the ways TFG helps build safe environments for mothers.
Arriving at the TFG luncheon I already knew it would be mothers attending, so I hoped common ground would be easy to find. When I walk into a room of people I do not know, I immediately begin trying to find something in common with them. Good food and similar experiences in life are often the fuel I use for new friendships. I’m a pretty big fan of pizza so when the conversation turned to the amazing combination of pizza dipped in ranch dressing, connections began to happen. Sidenote: If you have never tried pizza dipped in ranch dressing, you’ve got to try it. It’s SO good! Conversation during lunch covered many things. We talked about screaming toddlers…sometimes they just cry no matter what you do. It is good to have a safe place you can put your child and walk away for a few minutes to collect yourself before re-entering the “fit zone”. There were questions about what to do and suggestions were given on dealing with toddler meltdowns. Ethnic hair care was a hot topic because it’s an ongoing learning process. There seems to be new methods and products to try all of the time, so to hear the ladies sharing about what has worked for their kids or even themselves is just another way to form connections. It is probably near impossible to have a group of women together with babies and not talk about which brand of diaper is the best for the money spent.
I loved my time with the ladies at the luncheon. We laughed. We shared stories. We showed pictures of our kids. We shook our heads over some of the challenges of being a mom (i.e. going to the bathroom alone). Attending the luncheon was not about me, but about meeting women who, at the end of the day were not different from me. They have children they love and moments when parenting feels overwhelming. The connections came from being willing to be open, willing to talk and willing to listen.
You may find yourself asking what you have to offer if your children are already grown. The experience you have is invaluable. “I can relate” stories are effective tools in encouraging someone who feels alone and not understood. If you are not a parent, please remember there is great power in YOUR presence. Asking questions about a mother’s experience and listening to her story is another way to be present. You do not have to come armed with all of the answers (only Jesus has all the answers anyway). Just come. Be an encouraging voice, a listening ear or arms willing to hold a child. There is a place for you at Together for Good. Sometimes all that is needed to keep going is someone being present in your life, reminding you that you’re not alone.