Lately I’ve been reading many blog posts on other sites that highlight the pain of divorce. I’ve written about my own experience, to some degree, and every time I read about another woman’s pain I want to leap through the page and reassure her, give her a hug and an insight into her positive future. This past week I’ve reflected on the two women who significantly changed my life during my own journey through their monumental acts of kindness.
I was young, naive, and shell shocked when my husband told me he was leaving on Christmas Day. My son was six months old. During the day he was being cared for by my mother-in-law. I had been working partial hours, balancing the responsibilities of a career and motherhood. I went from normal to emotional wreck with such gusto it scares me to even go back down memory lane.
The first order of business was to find new daycare for my child. My family lived in Maryland and I lived and worked in Virginia. A coworker of mine told me about her friend Marilyn, who ran a home daycare business. She gave me her number and Marilyn and I set up a time to meet. Looking back, I don’t remember much about that meeting. I do have pictures of myself during those early months and the smile I thought was on my face was non existent. In fact, my face looked like it would collapse into sobs at any minute. Years later Marilyn told me she was nervous about taking my son, and to some extent me (because after all the parents are the ones the provider has to work with). I believe she was nervous about the turmoil of my divorce, nervous that my ex would somehow drag her into our messy proceedings, and concerned about adding strain to her new practice.
She spoke with her husband about the decision and they agreed to help me. They took Zak into their home while I struggled to get back on my feet. Zak was one of five children in her care and transitioned beautifully. He went from an inactive baby to curious and active toddler almost overnight. The other mothers that also brought their children to Marilyn’s always looked so happy and were so very kind.
When a woman knows her child is safe and happy, it is a gift of love like no other. Nineteen years later and I have so much gratitude and love for Marilyn, it is truly hard to explain. Her willingness to take a chance on a single mom and her small baby was not only a gift of love, it was a gift of hope. Zak stayed in her care until he went off to school. When I remarried, my next two children went into her care until I quit my job and stayed home with my youngest. Marilyn has retired from her career of love but will always have a special room in many children’s hearts and in the hearts of their mothers.
In my work life things weren’t going so well. Getting back on my feet wasn’t easy mainly because I was an emotional wreck. I could not function. Sometimes I would go into the office, look down at my feet and realize I had two different pairs of shoes on! I am talking about heels! They would be slightly different colors and heights and I would not notice until it was too late. Some days at work were better than others but there were many days spent behind closed doors, tears streaming down my face after a particularly difficult call with my ex or my lawyer. I was hardly functioning.
She could have fired me. My boss Christine could have easily fired me for my lack of performance during those first months. I am no longer in touch with Christine but I will never forget how she lifted me up. The first thing she did was go to HR and request a 10 percent raise for me. I still can’t believe she went to bat for me in this way. She got the salary increase, came into to my office and said “NOW you need to get it together, I am giving you a performance increase because I know what you are capable of and I need you to get it together and work on our tradeshow.”
It was then that I woke up out of my stupor. Through the pain and the pity party, I was able to understand that I had to now work hard, for me, for Zak and for this manager who put herself on the line for me. It was a major turning point. This gift of faith and trust gave me the strength to stop the downhill slide I was on. I started to walk forward into my new life. I eventually left that company but will never forget Christine for those early days of support. I wish she knew what a positive impact she had, that this impact was the only one that truly mattered to me.
When women lift each other up, beautiful things can happen. Our ability to see the colors between black and white is truly a divine gift. We can change lives, we can positively impact the lives of our friends, our children, our husbands, and our parents. Our ability to love and use our gifts for good can impact a life in such a way that generations can benefit. I know because I have been the recipient of that love and have tried to pass it on.
Lift someone up. Who is in your life that needs it?