Hey, friends! I hope that your summers have been full of adventure, sunshine, and joy. I just got to spend seven weeks adventuring in a small town (I use the term “adventure” loosely), interning at a children’s home. I lived there, played with kids all day, and worked with a bunch of people who spend their whole lives loving the people around them. I was basically living the life I dream about having one day, so I hope you like kids as much as I do because you’ll probably be getting lots of kid stories over the next few months.
I have this inexplicable, natural way of understanding the world that makes me feel like I’m everybody’s mom. I feel responsible for everyone and everything; I like to be in charge; and, unconditional love is my absolute favorite thing. Football players, refugees, teachers, kids, classmates, strangers… they’re all my people to love, no matter what. It’s kinda weird to feel such an overwhelming motherly love for so many people, but it’s also really cool because people are pretty amazing when you give them a chance.
I’ve always hated the disconnect between my life during the school year and my life during the summer. All seasons of life are temporary, but the fleeting nature of summer is just so much more obvious. It’s clearly marked by the day my exams end and the day that I move back in to school. But, the comforting thing about working in a children’s home is that the whole environment lends itself to impermanence. It’s a good place to learn how to love each other, even with the promise of goodbye.
I think that one of the most important things we can learn is how to love fully and permanently despite a temporary role… whether you’re a teacher who only has a student for a year, a coach who only has a player for four years, a cashier who only has a customer for a couple of minutes, a foster parent who only has a child for a few days, a few months, a few years. Constantly saying goodbye to people you love is hard. And messy. And heartbreaking. But, it’s also worth it. Protecting our own vulnerability shouldn’t be more important than caring for the people around us.
I got to be a substitute house parent to eight little girls for four days during my internship. Four days of Mom and seven weeks of friend. That’s it. Walking away from their cottage after I said goodbye broke my heart a little bit. But, maybe that’s a good thing, and now there’s a piece for each of them. A little bit of love that will never leave them, no matter what. I like to think that’s what happens when our hearts break at goodbyes. We send our love out into the world to be with the people we love forever, even if we only got to be there for a little while.
Every day, it becomes more and more clear to me that it’s not my job to be everything to everyone. It’s mathematically not possible, no matter how much I want it to be. I can’t be a mom to seven billion people, but I can be a mom to the people I know, the people I interact with, the people within my power to care for.
So, I’m going to love the person in front of me, even if all I get is today. I’m going to be as much of a mom as I can, even if I only get thirty seconds to tell someone how much they matter and how much they’re loved. I’m going to choose to believe that we will have enough time together for them to be loved, even if it’s not as much time as I want. If four days is all I get, four days will be enough time for giggles and cupcakes and big hugs and basketball and swing sets and the messy-around-the-edges kind of family. We can’t control time; we can only control the amount of love we’re willing to give.
May the love you give and the love you’re given never be constrained by temporary.
All the love in the world,