A couple of months ago, I took all four of my kiddos to our small community library. The maximum amount of books we can check out is ten, so I told the older three kids that they could each choose three books to bring home. We walked around for a little bit and looked at the different books and after a few minutes each kiddo had chosen their books and so we headed up front to check out.
The sweet middle-aged woman who was checking out our books smiled at my kiddos and then turned to me and said, “Your kids are so respectful and well-behaved.” Then she rolled her eyes as she added, “I wish all the kids that come in here were that way, we get some really wild ones.”
I smiled and said, “Well thank you, although mine certainly have their wild times too.” Then we all said goodbye and headed out to the car.
During the twenty minutes in the car, I couldn’t stop thinking about that conversation with the librarian. While she was certainly well meaning in her compliment, I couldn’t fully accept the praise because I knew that by just changing one or two variables in the library, that it easily could have been my kids that she was rolling her eyes about. If I would have come merely 30 minutes closer to lunch time or an hour closer to nap time, my kids may have been the “wild ones,” throwing fits, running amuck, and screaming their heads off.
So while the compliment on my kid’s behavior was nice to hear, I couldn’t help but feel that there must be some better words for a veteran mom to encourage a younger mom. I thought about how there must be some words that could be said to encourage both a younger mother with kids running wild, as well as, a younger mother whose kids are politely obeying (at least for the moment). Words that could bring life to a mother in either situation, and yet, would be truthful for the one giving the encouragement.
I thought about this for a few days, and I came up with ten words that I truly think that every young mom would love to hear from a veteran mom…or at least I’d love to hear it! They are…
“Keep up the hard work mama! It is worth it!”
I get a smile on my face just picturing a veteran mom cheering on a younger mom with these ten simple words. Because they infer so much…
First, it is acknowledging to a younger mom that this parenting thing is hard…really hard! Young moms need to know that veteran moms struggle too! Because honestly, one glance at Pinterest and you think that everybody else has it all together. So, if a veteran mom, who is a few years ahead in parenting, acknowledges how hard it is, then it gives permission for a younger mom to feel the struggle and know that they are completely normal!
Second, it is acknowledging that this younger mom is currently doing-the-work, she’s literally in the midst of it, right this minute! I can’t even count how many young moms that I have talked to that have felt lonely and forgotten while their kiddos were little. Between naps and sick kids, it’s easy for a young mom’s interaction with other adults to be limited. By saying these ten words, a veteran mom is basically saying, “Hey girl, I see you! I see that you are tired! I see that you love that kiddo so much. This parenting stuff is important! You got this! Keep it up!” This might be just what that young mother needed to hear.
Third, you are acknowledging that motherhood is a sacrifice. Every mom knows that being a mom requires a lot of sacrifice, but sometimes young moms (especially), just need it to be verbally acknowledged. Then after that, they need to be reminded that not only are these kiddos “worth it” because they are made in God’s image and therefore have intrinsic value, but also that all that physical wear and tear of mothering is worth it. All that time spent reading the same book to your toddler over and over again is worth it. Spending the extra time to deal with your child’s heart rather than just correcting his/her outward behavior is worth it. Just being reminded that those often mundane and seemingly unimportant small things that a young mom is doing with their little ones now, will come to fruition later. That is something a veteran mom has actually seen and a way that she can encourage a younger mom who can only speculate how all this will matter later.
Fourth, it is acknowledging that you and this young mom are in the same club. All mothers are working through this stuff and not one of us have it all together. We may have kids that are different ages, live in different places, and parent differently, but we are all in this thing together.
I think THOSE are things that a young mama needs to hear! …whether she’s someone you see routinely or simply passing by in the grocery store.
So please, sweet veteran mama, when you see a young mama struggling to keep her composure when her little one is throwing a tantrum OR when you see a young mama with an especially obedient kiddo and want to praise her, just look her in the eyes, give her a big smile, and say these ten words…
“Keep up the hard work mama! It is worth it!”
Because they will be life giving, I promise.