A beautiful girl named Trisha is in the show with me right now. (When I say, "the show with me right now", I am referring to Catch Me if You Can at the Hale Centre Theatre). She and I were in The Wedding Singer together years ago. We are the same age (ok, I'm 3 years older), we both have 3 kids, and she lives close to me. We've become good friends and so have our kids. It's been wonderful!
She was expressing her frustrations to me on our drive to rehearsal about how difficult her kids had been that day, how little patience she had with them and was questioning if she was a good mother or not. I have spent a significant amount of time in her beautiful home in Daybreak and I can tell you that she is a great mother. I reminded her that her kids are well fed, clean, safe, and loved. Sometimes these are the most important things...not how clean our house is or if our daughters hair is done just right. Sometimes we yell and are so exhausted...but we are doing our best.
That very night, after Trish dropped me off at our meeting point, I got in my car to finish the short drive home and saw a woman and young child walking with their arms full of stuff. I thought it was strange that they would be out so late (10:30 p.m.) on a walk to the store. (I assumed they had gone grocery shopping or something and didn't have a car). Another strange thing is that they were walking near a big open field toward a highway and no apartment buildings or residential neighborhoods were very close to where they were. Huh.
I kept driving.
I was only about 1/4 mile from home when I had the feeling I should turn around and see if they needed a ride. It took some tricky driving, flipping a U on a busy street, but I made my way over to them, rolled down my window and asked them if they needed help.
At first, the woman kept her distance and had a scared look on her face. I don't blame her. Once she looked a little closer and (I think) saw that I was just a little blonde lady with a smile on my face, she emphatically said, "Yes! We do need a ride"
The woman (she was only about 22) and her 4 yr. old daughter piled into my car and I asked where they were headed. That's when Anna told me that she and her boyfriend had gotten in a fight and they were running away from him. He yelled at her, spit on her, and called her explicit names in front of her daughter, so they got out of his car and decided to walk home--which was about 6 miles. They were carrying a few bags and her daughter's booster seat.
Anna launched into an entire story of how they were fighting over a movie and how immature her boyfriend was acting, etc. She was using plenty of harsh swear words herself as she explained things to me.
Part way through her story, her darling daughter piped up and said, "Mommy, I love you. Are we almost home? I'm tired."
It broke my heart to see this little girl in a situation like this. I ended up driving Anna and her daughter all the way from South Jordan to her boyfriend's apartment in Murray(that is where her car was parked). But once we got there, her boyfriend was waiting outside for her so we drove past (of course he didn't know my car. I had never met these people!) and drove all the way to Kearns to take her to her x-husband's mother's house. That's when she told me that her x-husband is in prison but his mother watches her daughter everyday while she (Anna) goes to work. The reason she decided to have me take her to Kearns was because her boyfriend didn't know that particular house. She didn't want to go home to her parents home (where she is living in the basement) in South Jordan in case he might come looking for her.
The point is, her little daughter kept asking questions, talking about how tired she was, and telling her mommy that she loved her. All the while, Anna was scared, upset, using foul language--but grateful for my help. I was proud of her for getting out of the situation and standing up for herself and her daughter. I turned to her and said, "I know we just met. You don't know me. But you cannot be with him. You just can't. Don't go back to him. You and your daughter deserve better than that."
She offered to give me money for gas and she was so amazed when I told her I was coming home from a rehearsal because I am a performer. She acted like I was famous...which I got a kick out of.
My stomach fell when I dropped her and her daughter off at her x-mother -in-law's home. It was in a dodgy neighborhood. Their plan was to sleep on the couch. I wanted to take her darling daughter home with me.
I called Trish (it was 11:30 by this point) and said, "Remember earlier today when you were so worried and hard on yourself about being a good mom? Remember when I told you that you provide a safe and happy and stable environment for your children? Even though you lose your cool and get overwhelmed they are still clean and fed and cared for?"--Then I launched into the story I just told shared with all of you. I told her not to be so hard on herself.
I don't know where Anna started. I don't know the kind of childhood she had. And I could tell she loved her daughter. She was a very pretty girl and it sounds like she has a stable job. But I could tell she was not given as many opportunities as I have been given. I don't know what kind of examples or support system she has in her life. I tried my best not to judge, but just to love and serve her and offer her my advice.
She thanked me profusely as we said our goodbyes. I drove home, walked into the quiet, clean house of my parents, and thanked God for the opportunity I had to meet her and to remember how much I have to be grateful for...especially for the wonderful man that Vic is. I wish every little girl could have an example of manhood and love such as Vic.
I know where Anna works and I have been tempted to stop in and check on her. She reminded me how much we all need each other and how much we can care for and learn from perfect strangers if we learn their stories. I hope things are going well for her. (And I hope her boyfriend gets kicked in the balls). I'm so glad I followed that impression to stop. I especially hope for a bright and stable future for her daughter. And I hope I can remember that while I may not be the perfect mom, I am still doing my best...just like a girl named Anna.