It's the intangible.

There's a part of Columbus Ohio called Clintonville. The houses are craftsman and vintage. Charming and full of character. The lots sit close to each other on quaint rows. The front porches graced with lidded boxes or the doors with mail slots. The mailpeople walk the rows and up to the houses to deliver the mail.

For 23 years a certain mailman named Karlton has walked his routes and watched house after house fill with growing families. New meetings, new unions, births, deaths. He's seen the houses and their inhabitants through it all. Families raise small children who grow up, leave for a stint and then tend to return to the same area and the cycle goes on.

The job could consist solely of checking numbers. House numbers, number of houses done, pieces delivered, days on the route. Head down. Mail to home. Next. But it's never been about the mail for him. It's the people who light him up. And because of that he did something simple but extraordinary this past spring.

There were 9 moms on his route that gave birth during a global pandemic. Some were first time moms, others more seasoned. Some he knew better than others. Some shared specifics of their journeys on their frequent chats. Others less so. But the fact was they were all welcoming new humans during a time of uncertainty in the world.

He watched the evolution of these women into mothers. The way they prepare, and research. The challenges they face. He sees how they sacrifice. The way they live out the job. The way that they are already the best moms for their babies and that having someone else to tell them so matters. He would see them at home, needing adult interaction, someone to talk to. And it wasn't just about them, he knew the kids needed it too. These women in changing roles needed connection, a sounding board, reality checks, friendship. Having two boys of his own, he knew that motherhood is a group sport. Not devoid of a father's input, but unique in a way that means women have a way of relating to each other that is special. He knew he could and did listen, but also knew that he couldn't always relate. That they needed each other for the "yes, it'll be ok."

He saw the need and he acted. He asked. Could he collect numbers so they could talk to each other, mom to mom. One by one they agreed. And the list grew. He added the names to a card and handed them off to one of the group members who he'd known as a friend. She started a text chain that led to conversations and meetups and smaller groups. And even a distanced porch party. In the middle of a pandemic where "distance" was mandatory, new connections were made. New lifelines.

When he's asked about why and what inspired him, he'll tell you. "it's the intangible not the tangible that matters." He credits that phrase to his mother and says he wholeheartedly believes it to be true. He'll say he watches the nonverbal, body language, eyes and eyebrows. This self proclaimed "walking bartender" is keenly aware of humans. And the way he sees humanness and imperfection and need as a beautiful part of life is something we can all learn from.

This man, delivering mail. Eyes and ears open. So aware of human imperfection but still all in. All in for the task of connection. Listening. Stopping. Being still long enough to hear what was really behind the words. And caring enough to act.

When asked how we can connect more meaningfully he listed the small things. The simple belief that we can always learn from each other. That connection matters. That communication matters. That saying "hi", making eye contact, and common courtesy all matter. That we should never be too busy to acknowledge each other. It all starts there.
In a world that can seem off kilter for any number of reasons, there are people doing the work of being ears, eyes, and facilitators of good. Simple but impactful gestures. In this case it was a local mailman and a group of women and their babies.

In a world where you can be anything, be kind. Be like Karlton.

Karlton

Connections are for everyone

"Thank you for always being here for me. You are amazing as always. I miss you tons"

"I miss you! I now realize the truth in the saying 'absence makes the heart grow fonder.' I think you're awesome and strong and courageous and I'm so glad I know you."

"People fortunate enough to have you in their life are so lucky and blessed."

All of your messages are heartfelt and so impactful. It's such a good thing. The mom to mom about kids and the connection of what motherhood is and does still stands. But not one of these messages speaks to only moms. It could be to anyone. It should be to whomever your someone is.

If you think of them, you can tell them so. If you're grateful. If you miss them. If they make you smile. You can and should tell them so and here's a nice little how.

 

So I had some mugs

When I think of my hardest days I think of the girlfriends who got me through. The ones who sat with me in the dark but didn’t let me get lost. Who acknowledged my grief and reminded me of my hope. The ones who cooked food, and hugged my babies. The ones who would just check in to say hi. The ones who never let it go too long without letting me know that I was on their mind.

It didn’t have to be grand. It was actually quite opposite. It was the consistent knowledge that they saw me and cared. They loved me when I was shiny and fun and they loved me equally in the raw and broken. Acknowledging all the parts of each other and being accepted with grace means we are fully seen and understood. There was so much comfort in the realization that face to face time was joy, but they were still there in the background on the days we didn't or couldn't share space.

I think of all the women I watch rally around each other to build each other up. The way they say the true, kind things. How they encourage. The way they say the hard things with the sweetest hearts and intentions. The ones that will be fierce when another can’t. The ones that will be gentle when another is rough. The ones that step in with the simple "you got this," and "I'm here," that flips a switch or lights a flame.

7 years ago today was one of the hardest days of my life. Each year since then, the days surrounding it have looked a little different for me, like grief does. There were years it drove me deep under the covers. Years I needed to sit with a friend. Years I tried to plow through and failed. All part of the process, it seems. It is no shock to me that this idea for Mugs for Moms, came to me week ago. The collective sad we're all in is so like grief. Maybe it is exactly grief. And that's why it's felt so heavily familiar.

We have lost so many things. I miss good unquestioned hugs. Distancing sucks. It’s lonely and frustrating and just sort of scary.

But we haven't lost each other and the ability to see the parts of each other that truly matter. We can still be that for each other. We can be distanced but not disconnected. Little things have ripple effects. Little gestures can have a big impact. It's about the (metaphorical) shoulder tap of a reminder that we still have each other. And that means we have so much. Because if we have collective sadness, we can have collective strength.

So I had some mugs and I wondered what it would mean to send a small note and a little reason for a mom to leave the house, cause sometimes it feels like we never do. Like never. And I thought about the women I miss. And I know they have women they miss. And what if I could help them remind one another of what it means to still have each other. An easy happy. Loving each other should and can be simple.

So here it is. Why this Mug thing is a thing. What it is. What it means. Written on the anniversary of my hardest day. Where it will never be easier, but there can be good. And you are the good. I love you and I love how you love each other.

first delivery convert