Friday, March 28, 2003

MNO :: Mom's Night Out

Every morning after an evening of Mom's Night Out, I think: "I gotta write about MNO, those women, our laughter and talk, the support and encouragement, the lasting friendships." Every month it's the same. We gather in a home, like Janice's last night, and we are treated to a home cooked meal, family recipes or something brand new, and always delicious, always served on our nicest dishes, our mother's china, our 'Christmas only' plates. "Delicious" doesn't reach the limit of describing the time and effort, the thoughtfulness the presentation of these beautiful meals; they are healthy and decadent, they are rich and diverse, they are the comfort foods we know and love, or something exotic that takes our hearts and minds to new places. As hostesses, we lavish on each other our nurturing and generosity, creativity and grace. It is an honor to serve, it is an honor to receive.

The company, the food, the wine, they are a pleasure to be sure, but more; they are like catalysts for our healing, learning, sharing, growing and caring. As we come together and share our worries and joys, express our views, celebrate our successes, laugh at our challenges, and find relief from our burdens, because of the thoughtful advice, the encouragement and support; we are strengthened in spirit, and comforted too. Once a month, for a few evening hours, we meet, and whether we are finishing quilts for charity at Jola's house, arranging our garden flowers on Yanina's porch, or sitting on cushions in Vera's entry and listening to flute music, it is always relaxing and energizing. And it is fulfilling too, because we allow ourselves the opportunity to treat ourselves to something new, and to extend ourselves to others as well.

MNO means an escape from our own familiar trials and chores, it means meeting friends and sharing stories and thoughts, with out interruptions, phones calls, needy children, or the buzzer on the washing machine. It gives us the opportunity to be reminded that in spite of all our concerns and set backs we are profoundly blessed. We go home to those children and appreciate them better, and see our work and tasks, and find new resolve. We are refreshed, inspired. Mom's Night Out gives us the opportunity to receive, and to return, many more blessings than we knew were possible.

Imagine the joy of having nearly a dozen sisters, and lots of nephews and nieces, brothers too! We share sitters, and painters, referals, books, and recipes; call Anne for any recipe with vegetables. We coach each others' children, like Maria does for Lydia and Maddie. In the heat of Summer Linda, Josie and Janice share their pools, cold drinks and sumptuous desserts. Those times when our children are splashing and laughing together, and our husbands are by our sides, sharing our company, are some of the best. Also in the heat of Summer, Karen shares her garden's bounty and we all go home with bunches and bunches of fragrant basil. By Fall we have come full circle, to the home of the woman who brought us together in the first place, and Belinda, as always, opens her home to us with beauty and warmth.

When I woke up this morning I tormented my husband, describing the fresh shrimp and pasta we ate for dinner, and not one salad, but two, the loveliness of the candles and flowers, the chocolate pudding cake. He asked about Josie, "Is she doing better?" "She looks great. I think she is doing much better," I say, and we sigh together. Thank God. He reaches for my hand; he tells me about our boys and their evening together. I tell him about Anne's almost finished kitchen, the termites at Jola's, the fountain at Maria's. And I think to myself that I should write about Mom's Night Out, my friends and their families, the friends who have become for me like my own family. I should mention the good things they do, the way Karen's laugh makes the room light up, how Anne has become the inspiring Anne Uber-Athlete. I would include how when I was too sick to know what to do, Jola came and cared for me like a mother cares for her child; with tenderness and resolve. I have found kindness, intelligence and love in each of these women, and I have been humbled and renewed, because of all they have shared with me. It would be impossible to represent them in words; to reflect all that we have, give and receive in each other's company.

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