We have just finished celebrating Mother’s Day. During a church service recently, the celebrant reminded us that the second most celebrated holiday was Mother’s Day (pointing out, with a touch of humor, that Father’s Day slips to a deep 32 on the list). Figures, doesn't it fellas.
That said, we rightfully celebrated this holiday with our mothers in houses of worship or as a family get together with Mom, Dad, siblings and extended family. If our mothers are not with us, as is the case with my mother, Delores Singleton, they are still ever-present in our hearts and prayers.
I think that Mother’s Day is a wonderful celebration. But, recently I learned of a way to extend Mother’s Day throughout the entire year. I’m not diminishing a father’s role, nor do I wish to dwell on a comparison of their respective contributions. What I know in my life, as does every child, is the influence and selflessness that most mothers give are incomparable.
I recently became involved with a great organization, The Nurse Family Partnership, that are helping new mothers do just that. The Nurse Family Partnership operates as a program of the NJ Department of Children & Families Home Visitation Initiative. The women in the program are all low-income, first-time mothers. The purpose of the organization is to help these first-time, at-risk mothers succeed.
The program has wisely invested in the welfare of the mother and child before birth occurs and remains with them afterward. They develop a nurse-family partnership in this free voluntary program. A nurse with special training visits the expectant mother and assists her before, during and until the child is two years old. This practical yet thoughtful approach is precisely the kind of pillar of support that a low-income, possibly less knowledgeable young mother needs. The support network, the education gained and the length of time committed to their special needs have proven to be highly successful.
Recently, Assemblyman Herb Conaway and I hosted a Pre-Mother’s Day event for the almost 40 women of the program We were able to give out diaper bags full of supplies for the new mothers and hosted a catered reception for them and their families.The reception was one of those magic moments when I could see the joy and gratitude on the faces of these first-time mothers who understand the “special” nature of what would eventually occur, and yet had the signs of hesitation and anxiety that we all face when entering uncharted territory.
An example is Shanice, first-time mom, who said: "When I was pregnant, I felt I didn't have anybody to lean on. I was so lucky to have a nurse like her."
A change in life’s direction sometimes rests on nothing more than a friend and helping hand. It almost sounds like a cliché and yet each of us has a story to support the observation. These young women now receive that encouragement.
While I am thrilled to offer my support to this worthy organization, I had one more special reason. I have written before (and I will again) about the influence that my mother had on me.
It will always remain with me, but on Mother's Day I’m reminded about it in a special loving way.
This event is a way for me to help this great organization in its work. And, on a personal note since I lost my mother three years ago this month, my efforts on behalf of this program are a way for me to honor her memory. I encourage you to visit the website of the Nurse-Family Partnership to learn more about the group: www.nursefamilypartnership.org. That's my take. What's yours?