This morning a colleague sent me down memory lane. “Do you remember what the weather was on this day for the last two years?” I remember, vividly. Two years ago, the freak October storm knocked out power in the two SafeHouses my agency manages for a week.
Imagine that for a moment: 30 people, moms and kids, living together with a loss of power to further complicated their lives affected by domestic violence and deeply affected by poverty. Unable to cook, or charge a cell phone; running to the local YMCA for a shower; gathering blankets as if they were gold, cold night after cold night.
Last year, it was Hurricane Sandy. The homes remained largely untouched. A former staff member, however, single mom of 4, was evacuated from her home. Her home was so deeply damaged that her family wasn’t able to return, for seven long months.
We often confess on this site about the trials and struggles of being moms. They are sincere and real, and help to promote the community of non-judgment that so profoundly supports us in our quest to raise healthy, able and resilient children. When I think of my life with my family, and how we often barely navigate our to-do list while supporting the spirits of our growing little ones, I am humbled by the resilience I find in the families I serve each day.
October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and as it draws towards its close, on this anniversary of two profound fall storms, I sit here in awe. My heart-strings are pulled by the gifts these extraordinary families share with me in their courage, endurance and gentleness against all odds.
Yesterday I was fortunate to go out for a run during lunch, and crossed the path of one mom we serve, one week from delivery, playing with her son in the playground to offer some fresh air. I’m sure she would rather have been on the couch with her feet up. Her body would likely have been grateful. Yet somehow she pulled from an amazing reserve to offer her son a little of what he needed. I admire her.
It was once believed that resilience was a character trait that some had and others did not. Yet, we’re beginning to recognize how resilience is also a practice. It can be promoted through our experiences in life, but also shaped by our perspective on them and what we are able to do in the face of them. In that way, we can also foster our own resilience, our own buoyancy, our own capacity to rise in the face of what are very real challenges in our every day lives.
It would be nice if life were more simple. I still work towards the day when my work is no longer needed: when families live in safety and we all have enough. I hope to never abandon that dream. Until then, I strive to be part of what supports resilience for the families and children we serve, whether through being an ear, an advocate, or a conduit to resources. We fare better together, often finding our strength and capacity to rise in each other.
Today, let’s each take a step to reach out to someone with our need, without shame. Whether we’re frustrated by our toddler’s most recent tantrum or are facing adversity in the form of violence, we are not alone.