One Sunday a couple of months ago, I went for a walk in the neighborhood and ran into two moms equally hungry for adult conversation. One shared her disappointment over a cancelled playdate due to the other party learning they may have been exposed to COVID, and we all commiserated about lost opportunities and outlets. I went home no less weary but emotionally buoyed by this shared experience of weathering the pandemic.
And then I saw the newspaper headlines about hopeful immigrants on the Mexican American border, people who had traveled far in order to seek a better life, only to be disappointed at the gate. It really put things in perspective -- how there’s disappointment, and then there’s disappointment.
My biggest disappointment from the year at that point had been a failure to plug myself into a project or organization. I thought I would be revising a book in a competitive writing program, or employed in some capacity in the field of writing or editing.
A couple of years ago, as I anticipated placing all of my kids in school and for the first time actually having time on my hands to pursue these goals, my stress level went off the charts. It surprised me, actually. I thought this was supposed to be an exciting time, a chance to knock on some doors and see which ones opened. And yet, I was terrified that none of them would.
Likewise, this past spring friends and teachers were asking me and other neighborhood parents if we were excited about getting to send our children to school full time again, a little over a year since the pandemic sent them home. Every mother I spoke with then had mixed feelings about this. Some parts of us would miss little moments with our kids, or little moments our kids had with their siblings. Some of us would miss the lack of pressure to fill our social calendars and sign our kids up for every sport and club of their whims. And some of us, like me, would dread the implication that having all of the kids out of the house again would mean that we had to stop skirting the issue of what we were going to do with ourselves once the kids were gone.
We realized that our kids are never truly gone. We realized that we needed to stay flexible, that the kids could be asked to quarantine just as quickly all over again. We realized that even if everything went smoothly, the kids would still be home all afternoon every day, and we would still be wondering when to fit in the cooking, cleaning and shopping, let alone all of the planning.
And yet, something calls inside my stay-at-home mom friends, just as something calls inside me. We were born with curiosity, with talents, with potential. We have an interest in being useful, to our families, yes, but also to our communities and to society, and we want to do so in a way that uses our gifts or cultivates new skills.
I haven’t spent significant time in the workplace. My two-plus years as a resident doctor never prepared me for a job search. I had always just followed the next step. It was daunting to revise my resume and attempt to navigate job sites, so I decided to start by talking to the people I already knew. I posted my dilemma to my church’s community board: a desire to write or edit for a company or organization along the lines of topics which I write about on my blog.
Within a few days I heard back from the founder of Misión de Caridad, an organization I announced on this blog back in 2019.
“It’s not paid work, but would you like to write for our blog?”
On the heels of my conversation with my friends about disappointment and seeing the recent headlines about disappointed potential immigrants, this seemed to draw together several threads in an unexpected and enticing way. I double checked that I didn’t need to be able to speak Spanish in order to participate, and, with no other reservations, sent back a resounding yes.
Here was a chance to be involved with the work already in process to help those at the border, perhaps not the families from the headlines I saw the other day, but ones in a similar position. I haven’t yet written for the blog, but I did sign up to be a monthly donor to this organization, and perhaps when I do get a chance to write this can be one concrete example of how helping others is also a step to helping ourselves. We are all connected. Perhaps there are roles for each of us to play.
Here you will find a catalog of my writing and reflections.