“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
She entered my kitchen with tears flowing down her face. Her toddler had just thrown a tantrum and, after other well-meaning mothers had offered her some advice, she just felt at the end of her rope.
Her thoughts seemed to be drowned in frustrations:
Why can’t I seem to get this right?
Why won’t she just behave?
Why does it seem that nothing I do is working?
Why do I feel like every other mother has well-behaved children and I don’t?
Days later, another friend called me on the phone. Her tears were evident even though I couldn’t see her face. She was at the end of her rope with her boys. She had lost her temper, said words she regretted, and now was left with guilt and a great need for encouragement and strength.
To these two moms I said similar things:
You are a fabulous mother.
This child (or children) has been entrusted to you and there is no one on earth who can mother them the way you can.
Your worth and impact as a mother is not determined simply by your errors, failures, and mistakes.
There is not a mother on earth who at times doesn’t feel what you are feeling right now and wonder how they can keep going on.
It’s okay to cry!
Start fresh, ask God for help, be confident that you can do this.
I meet with a group of women every Thursday morning for Bible Study. One of the moms asked the question, “Are moms in other cultures and countries as judgmental and critical of each other as they are in America?”
The mothers present who were from other countries and/or cultural backgrounds responded that where they were from, No – people expect that you are going to need support to parent a child – and families (and often communities) often provide support to the parents towards that end.
While every country and culture has its strengths and weaknesses pertaining to mothering and parenting, I think one thing is clear – no matter if you are a stay at home mom or full time working mom – we all need encouragement in our mothering.
We all need some affirmation that we are not alone – that other moms have the same struggles we have – and we all need some time off from our kids without feeling guilty about it too.
Rather than be looked down upon, offered unsolicited advice, or just given a cold shoulder for the decisions we have made that are different from others, wouldn’t it be awesome if we provided the moms around us (whether they are different from us or not) with encouragement when we interact with them?
And we really do need each other. My husband is my best friend and has been for 12 years. And he is pretty sympathetic when I have a hard day with the kids. But there is just something about talking to another mom – someone who is “in the trenches” with you, fighting the same battles, dealing with similar challenges, that can provide understanding, sisterhood, camaraderie that is unique and necessary in our mothering journey.
Let’s replace the trend of comparisons, criticisms, and judgements in mothering with a new trend – encouragement, camaraderie, humility.
So go find a mom and give her a hug today and maybe even a cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate too. Tell her she rocks. That she’s in a life-changing, stretching, exhausting, exhilarating, amazing journey and that you want to stand with her in this journey.
As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”