I was reminded this weekend that you just really never know what another mom is struggling with behind her smile or quick, “Everything’s good!” Every other Monday night at our Moms LifeGroup I hear moms share burdens and struggles–things I NEVER hear in casual greetings on Sunday mornings at church. Sometimes it feels like we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders as moms, right? Just the daily schedules, meal plans, appointments, bills—never mind the bigger stuff like our kids’ struggles with friends, school, teachers, health, or spiritual growth–it’s a lot. Very few people know what moms go through on the day-to-day level better than other moms.
So I’m a list writer. I get it from my Nana. She wrote thousands of lists, just that I observed during my childhood! I felt like God put it on my heart to compile this short list of what we need from each other. Maybe you’re in the “little babies/toddler season,” or maybe your children are teenagers. Maybe your children are grown but you sit in a pew behind moms who have their “hands and hearts” full, as they like to say. We can all offer something from this list to a mom around us. I promise, these aren’t all-expenses-paid trips to Maui (although I don’t know a mom anywhere who doesn’t deserve one of those! Haha!)
A quick word of encouragement. It doesn’t have to come from a place of having all the answers; maybe your babies aren’t in kindergarten yet–but your kind word to a mom of teenagers might be just what she needs to hear to keep her head up during this season. Or, maybe you’ve been the mom of toddlers and yours are older–that momma carrying diaper bags and bottles with spit-up on her tshirt? She needs to know she’s doing an amazing job. That she’s not alone–others have come through and it gets better. You simply do not know how God can use your word of encouragement to touch her heart. If you’re thinking of a mom right now, text her. You’ll be glad you did.
A “Don’t Give Up on Me” attitude. I get it; you’ve invited her for playdates, mom’s nights, dinner—too many times to count, and she ALWAYS says she can’t. It’s like she doesn’t want to hang out with you. Let me be the one to tell you: that’s probably not it. I’ve mentioned before that my son was a difficult baby. He cried for what seemed like the first 8 months of his life. Non-stop. In addition, we were in tough financial straits (stay at home moms don’t make much money, fyi! : )) and sometimes, we didn’t have the gas money for me to go “hang out” with other moms, especially if the activity involved eating out. I know that sounds crazy. But you better believe I didn’t tell the other moms that. I had a list of “reasons” a mile long as to why I couldn’t come….again…. Maybe you’ve tried calling her and she never answers the phone. Or responds to a text. Don’t give up! She needs you to keep trying. Because, in truth, she doesn’t want to lose friendships; she simply doesn’t have the time/resources/energy to put in to them right this moment. But she needs to know she’s missed, wanted, invited. Don’t give up on her. Keep texting, calling, trying—she needs you.
Invitations. This goes along with #2, but sometimes we think that getting together is more effort than it’s worth. We’ve got too much going on. Where will we find a good babysitter (inexpensively)? What if there’s nothing but drama or judgment or cliques? I could just stay home in my pajamas and be comfortable. This was/is me, big time. I’m kind of an introvert, if you can believe it, and I’d rather stay home with my husband than put myself out there to connect with other moms. This was ten times worse when my kids were toddlers…but here’s what I’ve learned. In spite of drama (of course there’s going to be drama sometimes), in spite of cliques who all seem to know each other and are already BFFs, in spite of all that—connecting with other moms gives me a rejuvenation I cannot find anywhere else. Recently a mom come over for our boys’ playdate and we talked for HOURS. We found out we had a ton in common!!!!! And even though we’ve both got really close friendships with other moms already, that Saturday visit was one of my favorite days in the last month and I felt encouraged, challenged, and just sharpened after our conversation. We all need that from time to time!
Understanding. This is a big one. We have all had tough times as moms. We all fall into the “drama trap” sometimes, where we don’t always think the best about our friends. But I like what Lisa-Jo Baker says in her new book, Never Unfriended. She says “When in doubt, believe the best about your friends.” Again, it goes back to: you don’t know exactly what’s going on behind the scenes. She may be fighting a battle you know nothing about, and your “perceived slight” (as Lisa-Jo calls it) could be nothing more than an overflow of guilt, frustration, heartache—that has nothing at all to do with you. Even still. What if there’s no implied hurt–what if your friend actually hurt you? There’s almost no better offering than to try to see things from her point of view. Try to “walk a mile” in her shoes and then ask God to change your heart to a heart of forgiveness. He gave us everything, right? We can ask Him to give us a spirit of forgiveness. It’s in His nature.
Last, but certainly not least: prayer. One time a mom friend I was praying for told me that no one had ever before told her that they were praying for her! I was shocked. But here’s the kicker: don’t just say you’ll pray for her. Actually do it. When a friend of mine needs prayer, sometimes I’ll just call and pray with her on the phone. Other times I’ll text her my entire prayer, so she knows exactly what I’m believing God for on her behalf. Prayer is one of our most powerful weapons to defeat the enemy, and sometimes….I haven’t been able to fight very well for myself. When a friend prays over me, she’s standing in the gap for me. We can be warrior mamas when we stand in the gap for our mom friends!