Summer is here and I love it! More than anything I enjoy being more relaxed in the evenings with my son. I’m not stressed out with the hustle from work to pick him up only to rush home to realize I have nothing to cook for dinner. On a school night, this is when I realize we’re now an hour behind schedule if we expect to get homework done, play, shower, prepare for tomorrow and read a book all before waking up to do the same thing all over again.
Our evenings during the summer leave me feeling much more like the mom I dream of being. A mom who always lives in the moment. A mom who seems to exude joy while picking the few weeds in her immaculate yard and waving lovingly to each passerby.
I seem to hear his giggles more clearly and the hugs are a bit sweeter. There are games on the patio, hanging out with neighbors, swimming, biking, ice cream and staying up too late. Summer is filled with all of the moments we hope our children will replay in their minds as they remember their childhood.
I’m guilty of filling my plate too full more often than I’d probably like to admit. And I’m certain I’ve missed an extra hug here and there with my son. However, others in our lives that are incredibly important need us to slow down for them too. It may be a friend, a neighbor, or a co-worker who is stressed out from the daily happenings that can wear us down. You never know when slowing down for someone and simply asking how they are could really change the momentum in their life.
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Some of you may know I’m involved with the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce. I honestly had no idea what I was signing up for. My life recently has had some serious stress that I can’t control. What I did know is that I needed something positive to put my energy into. (Cue Beyonce’s “I’m a Survivor” anthem.) Along with the position came a lot of responsibility. Philanthropy is something our community needs. But what I think about most is who won’t be helped if I fail or don’t try hard enough.
This feeling was intensified when I paid a visit to Jonathan’s Place. Our organization has worked with them many times but being a new face I felt I needed to really absorb what they did first hand. I got more than a brief tour and a counselor telling me they need construction paper and bed sheets.
The first building we entered was the home of 7 young girls. The girls who live there have endured traumatizing sexual abuse. Stories I can’t repeat. Stories that shook me to my core and gave me chills. We all know this is happening, even in our backyard. What I wasn’t prepared for was to be standing in this beautiful girls bedroom and to stare at her precious face in photos as I heard how her innocence had been taken from her repeatedly.
She’s beautiful. Her smile is bright. I could almost hear her laughter. Yet I know the pain she’s hiding from the world. She wakes up every morning and attends public school. She sits next to a “normal” girl who has a “real” home to go to when the bell rings. That “normal” girl doesn’t fear being an object to a monster that should love and protect her. She goes home to a house full of other girls who share her same tragic story.
So often this story repeats itself. I witnessed this during my visit. I walked through the emergency shelter. I saw two children. A boy and a girl. The little girl was probably about 2. I asked about their stories. I was told about the boy’s life. He was beautiful and reminded me of my own son. The little girl was just as wonderful. I heard her story shortly before her mother walked in. I was told the little girl’s mother was a 16 year old who lives in the house I had just toured. A mother at 14. She had been raped repeatedly by a family member. She sought love in all the wrong places and became pregnant. This is the cycle Jonathon’s Place is dedicated to breaking.
I’m so glad I visited Jonathan’s Place. I’m hopeful as I make plans this year for our organization that I remember those stories. After all, that’s what it’s about. Being a voice for those can’t speak for themselves. Making a difference by pulling together as a community. It’s so convenient for many of us to fly through life without realizing the pain some people face. I’ve been guilty myself.
For more information about Jonathan’s Place and how you can help, check out: http://www.jpkids.org