Really, the title should be: How Others Have Helped Me
One of the benefits of being on the receiving end of service is having a better sense of how to help others later on, when you're not a mom of young kids whose husband is always away and are able to serve outside your own home. How many moms I could have helped before I had kids of my own, but I had no idea how to. The same thing has happened with my husband gone 95% of the time. We live in a military community so many of the families I know have experienced the same thing, only with their husband/father being gone for six months or more at a time. I've been given so much help and in so many ways that I never would have thought of if I hadn't been served that way first. So I'm taking note for real here, and not just mentally, so that I will know how to serve someone in a similar situation.
- Call her at random times to see how she's doing. She might lie and say she's doing fine, but just knowing that someone remembered her will give her a little boost. Check in via e-mail and text and whatever else too.
- Offer to babysit her kids so she can have some time away from them to regain her sanity and remember how much she loves them.
- Offer to come over and play with her kids, even while she's there. I never would have thought of this one, but this has been the biggest help. My friend has dropped her thirteen year old daughter off to play with my three year old a couple of times, and it's a huge help. Better than babysitting because I can either do stuff around the house and go take a nap with the baby. Plus what my three year old is lacking most is attention and play time with Daddy. When someone comes to play with her, she gets attention that I simply cannot give her because I have another child and household stuff to worry about too.
- Invite her and her kids to dinner. I cook very little when my husband is away because the kids won't eat it anyway. So I eat a lot of kid food, snacks, and sandwiches. Getting an invitation to dinner gets us out of the house, gives me some adult conversation, and feeds me real food that I wouldn't otherwise be eating.
- Bring her dinner. I was sick one of the evenings I was invited to dinner and they brought me leftovers. As stated above, it was awesome to get real food.
- If you have kids, invite her and her kids over for a play date. I've invited some friends over here, and that helps too, but it's really nice to have an excuse to leave the house some days.
- Think about what chores were traditionally done by her husband, and offer to do it for her, either just once or on a recurring basis. A neighbor boy helped me shovel my walk, and it was so helpful. Most of the things my husband normally did, I can do myself. It might be a little more difficult, but I can do them. With small children, I cannot mow our lawn. Even though it doesn't need any care yet, someone has already offered to take care of my lawn once it needs to be mowed until we move. I almost cried when I was offered this because it was a huge problem hanging over my head and she solved it instantly.
- Friends and family who are far away: come and visit. It is so nice to have someone to talk to at night and to do things with. And to break up the monotony of our days and the long stretch of Daddy being far away.
- Just be there to offer help and to listen. I'm not one who likes to ask for help. I even struggle with accepting help (which is probably why I keep finding myself in life situations where I have no other option but to accept help). But I have a couple of people who have offered and have helped me so lovingly and genuinely, that I truly know I can ask them for help if I need it. And sometimes I really, really do.