Social media is a responsible for a lot of misery in the world. A lot of us would benefit from switching off Facebook from time to time and being more present in our own homes. But sometimes those networks we build with complete strangers can pay off in the most wonderful ways.
That’s what happened to a woman named Janessa, a US mum who is also a member of a Facebook group called Grown & Flown, a private parenting support group for those whose kids have reached adulthood and left home.
Janessa posted in the group that her son had called her from Alaska, which is over 5600 kilometres away from where she lives, crying in pain.
“He had gotten up to go to the bathroom,” she wrote in her post, “and his leg gave out on him and he fell to the floor and couldn’t walk. He was in excruciating pain and scarred [sic]…and 3500 miles away from home.”
Not long after the phone call, a supervisor from college carried Janessa’s son down three flights of stairs and drove him to the hospital. Janessa was desperately trying to arrange a flight to Alaska so she could be by her son’s side through this ordeal.
That’s when she had an idea that would change everything.
“I was frantically checking flights to Alaska (as if that is even financially feasible!) and I remembered I had befriended a Grown and Flown mum that was local to his school,” Janessa said. “I reached out and she offered help.”
The mum was a woman named Benita, and she didn’t hesitate to offer her assistance. She went to visit Janessa’s son to ensure he filled his prescription, and brought him some lunch and some other items to keep him comfortable, such as a heating pad.
“She wouldn’t even let me pay her back and just told me to pay the favour forward,” Janessa said. “It was such a wonderful thing she did.”
Benita even took a picture of Janessa’s son smiling, to show he was feeling much better.
Janessa shared her story and thanked Benita on the Grown & Flown private page, which was then also shared to their public page, where it quickly went viral.
“We need to coordinate parent support,” commented one fellow parent.
Another said, “This brought me to tears. This is an incredible story and my heart has melted.”
Another mum made the observation, “Great example of why mums must stick together.”
“It’s a great way to spread awareness to other parents to step up and do similar for kids in other areas,” Janessa told Babble.
It’s not just practical support, of course. Even being able to share your stories and struggles with people who understand is invaluable. Hearing “you’re not alone”, or “I’ve been there too” can provide enormous comfort when you’re in the parenting trenches.
Perhaps all that time spent online isn’t wasted after all. We’re building villages around ourselves that can provide support and assistance when we need it most, and we, in return, can do the same.