She pulled into the parking lot ten minutes early, just enough time to nurse one side. It would at least help her chances of being able to introduce a calm newborn. As she sat in her car feeling sorry for herself, she watched MOPS leaders in their matching shirts file into the parking lot and rolled her eyes at their coordinating outfits.
She’d been a church attendee her whole life. She’d even led community groups in cities all over the country, but for some reason, outside this building, trying again to get connected after so much pain, she felt like a church outsider – like there was nothing in her life she could be real about – nothing that seemed like the fruitful, joyful, faith-forward life she should be living by this point.
Sadie was one of those lucky moms who had a tribe of women for support with her first baby. Her prenatal yoga class turned into a sitcom-worthy mommy and me playgroup, and together, they laughed and cried their way through that first year. They bonded over birth stories, texted about latch issues at 2 a.m., and made Facebook group decisions about every toy, teether and solid food. Then came the little siblings about 2-3 years later, and they enjoyed another round of swapping sleep deprivation memes, laughing about the decline of their parenting standards with a second kid, and just generally being the reason they were all surviving without even knowing it. They were a give-me-a-ride-to-the-airport, know-when-I-need-your-freezer-lasagna kind of group. But then, two of those moms moved out of state and their playgroup started to fade right about when the firstborns were headed off to kindergarten.
Sadie found out she was pregnant with her third right before her own family decided to move for her husband’s job, across the state – a long day’s drive from anyone in the group. She tried to stay connected to the few she was still close with, but after she had her baby, she really felt the distance. No one else had another baby, and she already sensed she had been removed from a few of the texts that had started discussing school-age issues. No one seemed to be responding to her newborn jokes or subtle hints about struggling to get her postpartum anxiety under control.
It seemed like their marriages moved on as well. While hers bore the drama of an unwanted move and a surprise third child that had come at a difficult time, the others seemed to be doing things like club sports travel on the weekends, having more freedom for nights away from the kids, and a general rhythm of life that Sadie just couldn’t seem to hit after having her baby.
As she grew distant from her girlfriends and her spouse, she couldn’t help but drift from God as well. He was the essential component of all her main relationships, so losing them felt like losing bits of her relationship with Him. She signed up for a MOPS group on a whim because she knew her depression was settling in and she needed to get out of the house, but had it not been time to nurse her newborn, she would have circled the parking lot and gone home. Instead, she pulled into a spot to at least do that one side and have a good cry – something that seemed to be her seven-times-a-day routine right now.
She felt like she should walk inside, get an Avery label name tag and write on it, “Hi my name is ‘I’m in a dying marriage, I’ve been deserted by my friends, I’m 30lbs overweight and depressed again, and I’ve completely lost the joy of the Lord altogether and I’m beginning to wonder if any of it was even real. So, what’s your name?!”
She was buckling the baby back into his car seat when one of the moms in the distance turned around, and Sadie could tell she was holding a sign.
So cheesy, Sadie thought, “Pep rally signs? What are we in high school?” But then, she got a glimpse of the writing. In purple cursive marker it said,
“We’re so glad you came today!”
Another leader walked past her car holding a bright pink one that said in bubble letters,
“There’s a seat for you inside!”
The girl next to her turned around and Sadie saw that her sign had a cup of coffee drawn on it with,
“Hi, gorgeous. There’s coffee right this way!”
And then the sign that made her think that God must have a good sense of humor –
“You’re in the right place!”
And so, she pulled her baby out of the car seat and went inside.
Those big, cheesy signs were like the girlfriend she needed that morning. She stayed that day and came back the next one, and she didn’t give up on anyone just quite yet.
Be good to every mom. You never know just how bad they need to be asked to stay.