A week ago, my son graduated from a 13-week stay in the NICU at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies. I drove by Pulse daily on my trips to see my little guy, and Winnie Palmer’s shadow falls on ORMC’s Emergency Department.
Now that he is, gratefully, home, I find myself holed up in our house with three little ones, watching videos and pictures of the South Downtown neighborhood where I spent my last 3 months, now unbelievably transformed by the events of the weekend.
And I feel helpless.
During our NICU adventure, I’d joke that one of the only perks was that at least I got out of the house every day…and if you’re a mom of littles, you know almost any excuse to leave the house (and hit a drive-thru Starbucks) makes the day brighter. Now, tragedy has struck, but I have no reason to drag my kids back to SoDo this week. Opportunities to gather supplies, assemble gift bags, attend vigils, and give blood pop up on my Facebook feed constantly. But let’s be real. Right now my groceries mostly come from Shipt, I’m in my pajamas by 7pm, and my traumatic delivery of little NICU man left me unable to donate blood for a while.
What’s a mama bear to do?!?
Since I’m not one to sit and sulk, here’s what I’ve come up with so far to be #ORLANDOSTRONG, even if you’re a mom who still considers “shower” and “daytime clothing” on your list of maybes for the day.
- Be encouraged. I know, this attack has rattled us. We need to mourn, grieve, comfort and reflect. But in tragedy’s wake, our community is coming together in love and support in incredible ways. All day yesterday I’d see a need pop up on Facebook, and within and hour or two, a new post saying, “Thanks for your generous offers! We’ve gotten all the flower vases we need for the funerals donated already!” Then a new need would pop up, followed by a picture of overflowing kindness poured out faster than I could get a load of laundry done. Yes, we are experiencing heartbreak. Yes, it’s tough to navigate this tragedy with our children. But we can also help them understand the power of love and kindness. We can share Mr. Rogers’ reminder to “look for the helpers” by telling our kids how amazing our community is being right now.
- Watch a vigil online. Last night I took in part of Monday night’s vigil in front of the Dr. Phillips Center while feeding my newborn. Replay Jimmy Fallon’s kind words to our city while you do the dishes. Look for live feeds this week that you can watch for even 5 minutes at a time, so you can feel connected to what’s happening around us.
- Give online to help victims, through one of the official gofundme accounts or by supporting a local organization you trust who is in the trenches right now.
- Share needs and opportunities that pop up on your own social media sites, so the word spreads faster. Maybe YOU can’t meet the need, but someone you know probably can.
- Do a random act of drive-thru kindness by paying for the person behind you next time you’re out, or by sharing a gift bag of water and pre-packaged snacks from your pantry with the person who hands you your food/coffee at the window.
- #Prayfororlando. You can talk to God anywhere, anytime. Pray for our city while you empty the dishwasher and change the diaper pail.
- Love your kids. Every day you spend with your littles, you can choose to fill them up with the sense of inner safety, security and belonging they need to become healthy adults in our community rather than people who hate.
- Make a goal of paying it forward in our community over the next year with #49actsofkindness…or with 4, or 9, or even just one, at a time you can manage it. The media attention will die down and the memorials will be for a short time, yet our city beautiful will continue to be filled with people experiencing need who you can help. For those of you who can leave the house with less than 2 hours of prep time…why not plan a summer playdate with friends – to go be helpers in our community instead of just taking another trip to the splash park? If we want to truly help our kids navigate the fear and pain of this tragedy, we need to help them write their own stories of kindness and compassion. Teach them how to care for homeless families in our backyard. Sign up for one of Hands on Orlando‘s 49 volunteer projects honoring the victims.
So, mamas stuck at home while the world around us shakes, remember we can all be #ORLANDOSTRONG if we choose to, even if we can’t leave the house.