Recently I found myself standing outside an emergency room cubicle, listening as my good friend had her ankle “reduced.” Although it sounds like some kind of spa procedure (“A little off the back, please, and can yo u reduce my bangs?”), based on my friend’s clipped yelps it was pretty clear she wasn’t getting a pedicure in there.

That morning was moving day for my friend and in the process of carrying a box down the stairs, she slipped. She completely dislocated her ankle in addition to breaking it in several places. My friend was rushed to the emergency room and under-went surgery, all within about eight hours. Because the move had to take place with or without my friend, I stayed at the hospital with her while her husband directed movers and finished the packing. Her 2-year-old was thankfully staying out of town
with relatives.

What happened after this accident was nothing short of miraculous. While I sat in various comfy hospital chairs, reading O Magazine and In Style, and giggling as my friend came in and out of morphine-induced confessionals, the neighborhood moms were home, coming out in force. Before the ambulance even left for the hospital, two mothers stood on the sidewalk planning how they might help. Over the next several hours, mothers took care of the kids while they sent fathers to help with the heavy lifting. Then as my friend’s hospital stay lengthened, those same mommies had daddies watching babies while they themselves started unpacking my friend’s house. Plates and bowls appeared in cabinets, and pasta and Cheerios found their way to pantry shelves with amazing speed.

When my friend finally arrived home, the meal army began its attack. Neighbors started calling and stopping by, dropping off casserole after casserole and promising dinners for many weeks to come.

This constant outpouring of help has basically overwhelmed my friend. She can’t even figure out how to keep track of all the help in order to send thank you notes.

Not that she has time for thank you notes.

People say that men stick together and women fight amongst themselves. You’ve heard it; that’s what we mean when we say women are “catty,” isn’t it? As I’ve been facing some hard times myself recently, I’ve also been touched by some very real offers of help. From babysitting to shopping, my friends and neighbors go beyond wanting to help and actively start filling needs that I have.

All I know is that there is something true about the families in my life. If women do have a tendency to fight amongst themselves, Mommyhood seems to be a trump card. I suppose that there’s no great wisdom in realizing that mothering children is a great equalizer. Recognizing how difficult parenting is in the best conditions leads some people to go above and beyond when the conditions deteriorate. How lucky I am to have found such a community. And you can count on me for the next casserole dinner