Home was dark and empty. Home had tears. Home gave no support. Home was not a home.
Instead I found home in houses that belonged to other people. My beloved friends and their families poured time, support & care into me.
I remember staying at the home of my first best friend for weeks on end. I got to play dress up, watch kid movies, play with barbies and win talent shows at her house. We absolutely had a blast! Across the street at my place none of these things existed but I was so grateful to have this space where I could explore, be free and be happy. Her mother was one of the best moms that I’ve ever met. I carefully watched how she took care of her kids. I watched closely because I knew one day I would need the skills and gentleness that she had when it was time to care for my own children.
As a teenager I spent time in many different homes. These homes were safe because my friends and their families were good people. I recall my friend’s parents at times providing me with lunch money for school, preparing breakfast for me before school and ensuring that I had a good meal if I came by them after school. Overall they made me feel like family and I was blessed to find these great people.
My best memories of rollerblading, going camping, playing in the yard and swimming happened with these families. Each of them were special and had a unique bond. My friend’s parents took excellent care of them.....while I watched intensely because I knew one day I would need the patience, understanding and love they gave to their teenagers when I had my own.
The mothers and fathers of these families assisted with getting me things that I needed and sometimes took me where I needed to go. They took me to church and allowed me to have fun in their sacred space. They gave me a safe, comfortable, free environment where I could feel at home even if it was for a short time. And all the while I watched to see how families and parents were supposed to be.
These parents thought they were just letting their daughter's friend stay over for a bit, but they had no idea that they were shaping the mother I would become. They had no clue that I was thirsty for the nurture that they gave to their daughters and in turn promised to be the best mother I could be. These families had no idea that they were making a lifetime contribution that would affect my own family for generations to come.
These families that belonged to someone else, but still gave time and care to 'tiny me' changed my world forever and I will never ever forget what they have done for me. All the Thank You's in the world would never be enough because my children, and their children and their children's children will benefit from what they have done. Because of their 'give back', I broke the cycle and became the best mother that I could be..
To Those Families:
Thank you for giving the best example of 'love thy neighbor' by allowing a hurt, broken little girl into your home. Thank you for making me feel at home! Thank you for pouring into me and changing the direction of my life forever!
P.S. A loving smile, encouraging word, a little more care and attention can make all the difference in a child's life. If there is a child that you can offer this to please consider extending yourself. One day they will thank you and tell you what a difference you've made!