Within hours of my wife passing, the vacuum my children experience was immense. Since that day, a small group of godly women have stepped up, joined what I call “The Mom Mafia”, and have honored the memory of their dear friend by loving on my kids in ways only a mother could. At times, that has looked like simply praying, or giving a hug or phone call when God prompted them to do so. Other times it looked like sending care packages to a freshman in college, taxi-ing my younger two to youth group or doctor appointments, or even helping out a single dad (who happens to be a teacher) by taking the kids school supply shopping while I was busy setting up a new classroom (which I’ve had to do for the last two years because my school moved buildings).
Each time my children have spent time with one of the Mafia Moms, whether it was with their brothers or by themselves, they have come away with their cups full to over-flowing. Each woman God has put in their life at this time who is helping to fill the vast void left by their mother’s death has a unique talent set which speaks to each of my kids individually and corporately.
At times, I’ve reached out to the Mom Mafia to request prayer. You want to know why I dubbed them “The Mom Mafia”? Get between a mama and her child, especially if that child is hurting. You won’t be standing there for long. These women do not fight an earthly battle with earthly weapons to leave temporal wounds. They fight a spiritual battle with stakes that make those earthly battles pale in comparison. They are each Generals in God’s army, who stand tall and don’t back down from a challenge. Many times, these women have each reached out to me to inquire about specific prayer needs…and other needs.
One of the members of this group of godly women has a standing date with one of my sons. Once a month she takes him out and gives him an hour or two of her undivided attention, usually over ice cream or some kind of meal. Monday was that day. When I dropped my son off at school this morning, I began to pray for that encounter. It’s been months since I’ve seen him glow. It’s been a difficult season for him. When I left work, I texted like I usually do, however, today I asked, “Where are you?” The reply I received was coy. It piqued my interest. Then the dummy light on my dashboard reminded me that I was driving on fumes and the thought left my head.
One of the only houses on my street in shadow this Christmas Season, I’ve been feeling guilty, trying to push myself to be more festive, trying to find more time and energy to continue decorating the inside and outside of my home so that it would look like a HOME. That feeling vanished when I pulled onto my street. The sight of my front lawn was hard to miss. When I parked, I was met by one son who was trying to hold in a bigger surprise, but his Autism makes it difficult for him to hide anything. I grinned at the sight. It warmed me that he met me at the driveway, albeit, he wanted to see my reaction. Nonetheless, he’d met me at the driveway and offered to help me bring in my things from the van. My youngest son was nowhere to be seen. As I entered the house, I locked the front door behind me and began the evening’s debrief with my son’s after-school caregiver – a good friend of the family, a good friend of my wife. Something was off, though. When I tried to walk the caregiver to the door, my son was blocking my path. He grinned, a bit mischievously and threw open the door. There stood my youngest, beaming from ear to ear. Then he began caroling!
When we piled into the car for the evening’s events, I listened in rapt attention as he explained his afternoon date with one of his surrogate moms. He was giddy. He was so full of words; they were gushing out of him almost faster than I could comprehend them. When he told me of the incredible time he had shopping at the Goodwill for something to brighten up the yard, he was nearly glowing himself. They had found the string of lights, the net of lights, and a “fake wreath” (I’m allergic to evergreen trees) and were heading to the register when he tripped, literally tripped over the box containing the nativity. The two of them found a plug-in to check the lights and purchased it all…”for $25, Dad!”
This Christmas Season alighted with a darker cloud than last year. We’ve only managed to get one tree up and decorated. (We usually have 3 trees because I love the Celtic tale of The Three Trees.) Pulling into my driveway on Monday and seeing the beaming child responsible for the light show, I realized that this Christmas Season just took a turn for the better. All because one of the Mafia Moms took an hour and a half of her busy schedule to spend with my child. I am truly blessed to get to work with these women who give me support in a vast sundry of ways. I could not parent half as well as I’ve been able to parent these past two and a half years without their help.