A young mom friend shared that she gets the above response whenever she mentions that life can be hard with several little children at once.
Why do we women do that to each other?
I’m so thankful that when I was a young mom, a special older lady told me that each stage of our children’s lives has it’s high and low points, and we shouldn’t dread any stage. I think at the time my oldest was about to turn two, thus I was cringing at the thought of the “terrible twos.” Her words helped me not to view that season of life negatively, and the “twos” were not all that terrible.
Though baby- and toddlerhood hold some cute, sweet, fun, and incredibly precious moments, small people depending on you for every little thing can be exhausting. I loved my babies and little ones, but this stage of life was hardest for me. When they can feed themselves, go to the bathroom by themselves, dress themselves, etc., life gets a lot easier.
Perhaps for some moms, what I call the “taxi years” are the most taxing, when you’re chauffeuring kids to sports practice, music lessons, church activities, birthday parties, school activities, etc., etc. That season does have its challenges. We tried hard to strike the right balance by offering our kids a number of opportunities without the whole household revolving around children’s schedules. It’s not easy. But one perk was that one of our children opened up much more in the car than if I tried to draw him out across the table.
Probably most who warn about harder years of parenting are referring to the teen years. Once, when my children were still young, an older mom and I were working on a bulletin board together at church. As she shared something about her teenage daughter, she said something like, “Don’t dread the teen years. If you keep the relationship good, keep communication open, and train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, the teen years don’t have to be a trial for either of you.” And she was right, just like my mom friend who told me not to dread the “terrible twos.” The world has bought into this idea that rebellion is a teenage rite of passage, but it doesn’t have to be. They do ask hard questions, but we should welcome them and help them seek answers. They should be coming to a point where their beliefs are becoming their own rather than just rotely following what they’ve always been told. There might be a few bumps in the road towards independence, but it doesn’t have to be an all-out war.
And then we come to parenting adults. In some ways, it’s a relief that all their decisions are their own responsibility now. Yet we have to let them make their own mistakes. We only offer advice when asked, and then carefully. We have to let go, but we can pray.
Each stage of development is a necessary part of growing up. Each has its hardships and its blessings. We need to encourage each other all along the way.
Imagine you’re hiking up a mountain trail. The way is rough, you’re hot, and you’ve still got a long way to go. Way up ahead you see another hiker. You call out to her and ask how the trail is between you. She says, “You think it’s bad now; you think you’re tired now; just wait. It only gets harder the further you go.”
How encouraged would you be? Not at all.
How much better if those ahead on the path called back, “Yes, it’s tough. But God gives grace. You can do it. Keep up the good work!” Or, even better, we can share how we found verses like 2 Corinthians 9:8 true in relation to motherhood: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”
Motherhood has been one of the hardest aspects of my life. Not much else (besides caregiving) showed me how selfish I was and how much I needed God’s grace. But watching and learning from other moms was a great encouragement.
Much has been said in recent years about mentoring, but we don’t need to set up formal mentoring relationships in order to encourage others. So often, I’ve received the most encouragement from off-the-cuff, seemingly random conversations in passing. But looking back, I know they weren’t random. I know God placed those people in my path for my encouragement.
I’ve shared before this poem from an unknown author that was quoted in Rosalind Goforth‘s autobiography, Climbing (one of my favorites). I had always thought of it in relation to life in general, Christian life in particular. I had mostly thought of it in relation to missionary and other Christian biographies. Even though it’s not specifically about motherhood, much of it can apply. We don’t need to demean or “one-up” others. Older moms, let’s call back encouragement to younger moms. Older women, let’s support younger women whether they are mothers or not, married or not.
If you have gone a little way ahead of me, call back-
It will cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track;
And if, perchance, Faith’s light is dim, because the oil is low,
Your call will guide my lagging course as wearily I go.
Call back, and tell me that He went with you into the storm;
Call back, and say He kept you when forest’s roots were torn;
That when the heavens thunder and the earthquake shook the hill.
He bore you up and held where the very air was still.
O friend, call back, and tell me, for I cannot see your face;
They say it glows with triumph, and your feet bound in the race;
But there are mists between us and my spirit eyes are dim,
And I cannot see the glory, though I long for word of Him.
But if you’ll say He heard you when your prayer was but a cry,
And if you’ll say He saw you through the night’s sin-darkened sky-
If you have gone a little way ahead, O friend, call back-
It will cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track.
Has someone “called back” in a way that encouraged you? I’ve love to hear about it in the comments.
(I’ve read several posts about encouragement this week. This must be a
message God wants emphasized at this particular time.
I love how Kelly expanded this truth to all scenarios here.)
(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Global Blogging, Literary Musing Monday,
Hearth and Home, Purposeful Faith, Tea and Word, Tell His Story,
Happy Now, InstaEncouragement, Anchored Abode,
Let’s Have Coffee, Recharge Wednesday, Share a Link Wednesday,
Wise Woman, Worth Beyond Rubies, HeartEncouragement,
Grace and Truth, Faith ‘n Friends)
Yes! We do need to encourage and build up! For sure. I especially found that true about the teen years. I was dreading them for some reason (maybe because everyone told me to!) but then when my oldest turned 13, I decided to stop. Each stage and season has highs and lows; I am going to look for the highs in each!
Sometimes I think we set up a self-fulfilling prophecy when we think certain ages and stages are going to be awful. May God give us grace to take each one as from Him, trusting He’ll give us the wisdom we need.
Lovely post.Even I take my kids out and they open up faster with their secrets with an icecream in their hand..😀
Sounds like you found the key! 🙂
I was nodding my head all through this! I agree that mentoring doesn’t need to be formal (who has time for yet another commitment), and that many off-the-cuff remarks have stuck with me, either for good or for bad. Thanks for this encouragement to point out the positives and hopeful bits to others.
Sometimes I think we’ve made mentoring, or being a “Titus 2 woman,” harder than it needs to be. So often we just need to be walking with the Lord and sharing as He prompts us in the moment.
That poem is beautiful! And our words have such power either to encourage or to discourage others. It’s so important to remember that and seek to use them well.
I’ve been convicted that sometimes I think good things about others, but fail to share them. We all so need encouragement, I’m trying to remember to share it with others.
Mentoring as “calling back” is such a beautiful image! I want to be that mum!
Me, too, Michele.
This is such a good point. I know I have been guilty of this, but you are absolutely right. laurensparks.net
Thanks, Lauren. I have been, too.
I love your description of climbing a mountain. We hiked a mountain in Yellowstone when I was pregnant with Beth-Ellen. I was carrying 13-month – old Louis in a backpack and was always at the back of our group – even behind the newly minted seven-year-old. The rest of our group rotated through being in the back with me. It was utterly exhausting. But just as I was about to lose hope of ever getting to the top, hikers (not from our group) began passing us on their way down. “You’re getting close to the top,” they said. “Just around this next corner and you’ll be able to see the top. You can do it. You’ve got this.” The truth is, the top was still far enough that I would still experience plenty of discouragement as I continued along for 45 or so more minutes. But each hiker calling out encouragement gave me strength for another 15 feet… and then another and another.
I’ve been so encouraged in the time since I wrote my complaint that many women have talked to me in different settings to encourage me to persevere. I’m reminded by what you’ve said here that even though I often can’t help other younger mothers practically since my own hands are so full, I can be the hiker a few steps beyond. I may not be able to send a meal just now – but I can encourage the mom who’s feeling overwhelmed at the challenges of welcoming a new little. I can commiserate with the tough transitions that brings AND I can remind her that God’s grace is sufficient for each new challenge.
Thanks for sharing that experience, Rebekah. I don’t consciously think about offering encouragement as much as I could and should, and your post helped remind me how needed it is.
Thank you so much for sharing this very important post!
I was struck when you said, “why do we do this to each other?” And you are absolutely right. It happens too much, hopefully not to the degree my daughter dealt with it when she was suffering with post-partum depression this past winter and not one but two Christian “friends” did anything but encourage her, but instead berated her.
We definitely need to build each other up. Thanks for the gentle admonishment and encouragement.
I’m so sorry your daughter went through that experience. Maybe God will use it to help her be a great encouragement to others who have been where she is.
This is so good. I’m not a mom. But I’m going to remember your words when talking with my mom friends.
Thanks, Tara. We all need that encouragement in whatever circumstances God has us in.
I had a pastor’s wife back in the mid to late 80s who was a wonderful example of calling-back! She is in Heaven now but I still remember some of the words of encouragement she called back to me all those years ago. Great post, my friend!
Thanks so much, Dianna. What a treasure you had in this sweet lady. That encourages me to try to be that to others.
I’ve loved every stage of parenting (and been discouraged by a few of those ‘it just gets harder’ statements. Thank you for reminding us to uplift and encourage each other instead of scare each other!
Thank you, Anita!
This was such a great post! I do get down when I hear those types of statements. I am trying to watch the thoughts in my head, so during more trying times, I don’t pass those comments either. Usually I wouldn’t unless it’s one of those in passing moments or a rushed conversation which I am not a fan of. It seems when we humans are in a hurry, we subconsciously think “anything goes.” But we have to be thoughtful with our words no matter what. I fail sometimes, but really want to be an encouragement because I get the perpetual fatigue (we have a few dif types of handicaps in our home).
It’s that balance of being real with people but also counting my blessings and truly looking for the good daily, as I wrote today, that I sometimes struggle with–but I always want praise to win out, and pour out.
I like what a pastor once said. “If I enter into His gates with thanksgiving, then whose am I entering when I complain?” Ouch!
My friend’s story got me wondering how many times I have said something dismissive without even realizing it. But it also spurred me to try to be intentionally encouraging and thoughtful with my responses. We do fail, but with God’s grace and practice, He’ll help us think and respond in encouraging ways.
Why do we do that to each other? A colleague did that to me just last week as we were talking about something she’d ask for on my behalf. Her exact words were, “You’re not gonna get it but I can ask.” My exact words back to her were, why would you say I’m not going to get it? What if I do get it? You’re not God; how do you know what I will get or not get and why ask if you don’t think I’m going to get it? That’s so negative and counterproductive. Please don’t say those words to me ever again as we move forward.”
Thanks for sharing that, Yvonne. Sometimes I think people don’t realize how dismissive they sound. My friend’s story made me more alert to my responses.
Barbara, it’s been the best of times and the worst of times. Ya know? My oldest is 50 and my youngest is almost 42! We certainly need to encourage one another at the place our journey finds us!!!
We sure do! 🙂 Thank you for being such an encourager.
Yesss! I agree with you! We should be lifting each other up daily and encouraging! Thank you!
Thank you, Sylvia. We should, in this and every area.
I love this post! It seems to be human nature to focus on the negatives. But rather, we should encourage one another each and every day.
Recognizing and acknowledging that yes, though the journey may be tough at times, there is a hope and times of refreshing along the way and that God will give you the grace to do all that He has called you to do.
Thank you! I love that balanced perspective–acknowledging problems, but pressing on in grace and hope and faith.
Barbara, I truly loved every stage of childrearing. And honestly, I didn’t realize how difficult it was until I looked back. It seriously was incredibly difficult at times but you know, you just do what you have to do to get through it with lots of prayer and consistency and move on. It does get easier. I promise! Ours are all adults now and it’s so wonderful to have that parent/child relationship with adult children when they all love each other and you too.
Young moms reading this, hang on! Don’t throw in the towel. Don’t give up. We actually have a great post going live tomorrow morning from a mom of ELEVEN on this very subject! If she can do it, we all can! I used to think 4 under 9 was a lot. Little did I know!
Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!
Ours are all adults now, too, and we’ve found the same truth: you just seek God’s grace and wisdom day by day, moment by moment.
I have loved every stage of my sons growing up for different reasons. It seems easy for parents to share their struggles. Maybe it is their badge of honor that they made it through the hard years. I hope I did not do that often. I am the one to try to encourage other parents now.
I think it can help to share struggles in parenting or other areas so we don’t appear that we have it all together and never had any problems or issues. I think people identify more with us when they know we share their struggles. But we can do it with a faith-filled attitude of how God gave us grace, or with an perspective that just adds to a defeated attitude. Thank you for being an encourager!
I agree that we shouldn’t project our opinions on stages of life with other moms. The truth is that their walk through that season may look very different from yours. One thing I wish that I hadn’t bought into was the notion that if you do everything right, be there for your kids, bring them up in the way they should go, that everything will go smoothly. That, for me, just wasn’t the case. I feel like I did as much the “right” way as I could do it and still had a prodigal son. But even in that awful, long season I had to endure, God is working out His divine purpose in both of us. I think that reminding each other that our children were/are God’s children before they are ours is some solid mentoring advice to give. Let’s not cast a view on someone else’s experience…
That’s so true that everyone’s walk won’t look exactly the same. And that parenting can’t be reduced to a formula where if we do x, y, and z, we’ll have perfect kids. I often remind myself that God is a perfect parent, and look how His kids turned out. 🙂 And that He loves our children and wants the best for them even more than we do.
Beautiful encouragement full of wisdom! This is my takeaway: “Each stage of development is a necessary part of growing up. Each has its hardships and its blessings. We need to encourage each other all along the way.” And the poem! Thank you for sharing this!
Thank you, and thanks so much for stopping by!
YES! I’m so grateful for my mom who always made a point of saying, “I’ve enjoyed every age and stage with my children.” As a child, that made me feel loved. As a mom, it helped me look forward to the seasons most mothers dread. I can honestly say that, like my mom, I have enjoyed every age and stage with my children. They all have their hard parts, but they’ve all had aspects I loved, too.
Lovely poem and I am all about encouraging people! #GlobalBlogging
HI, this is simply one of the best and most encouraging posts I have read. Yes, we should mentor one another in faith, grace, and encouragement. I wish I had this post to read years ago. Thanks for sharing on the #LMMLinkup this week.
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Parenting is rewarding and tough sometimes. We nurture and teach in order for our kids to grow and learn but at the same time as parents we develop and learn too. Every stage has been a learning curve for my husband and I. Yes there were times that we questioned our ability as parents and still do as everything just seems to be spiralling out of control. But then we see the joy that our children bring into our lives. I wrote a post about my daughter officially being a teenager. I have received so many messages wishing me all the best as it is the hardest phase for a parent to endure. But I believe that each child is different and I have made a choice to embark on this journey in a positive way. As parents we need to encourage and motivate others who are yet to enter a particular stage. Thank you for this post – it really encouraged me #globalblogging
Yes, yes and yes! We do need to encourage each other. It’s so important to look for the good in every stage, and to share that with others. This post really summed up how I feel, and resonated with me on so many levels. Thank you so much for sharing it with the Hearth and Soul Link Party, Barbara! I hope your week is full of lots of blessings!
What a lovely poem. It’s true that we all need some encouragement. Our children are 4 and 1, so I’m still not that experienced a parent, but so far I’ve found that although the different stages bring their own challenges, there are so many lovely moments that we would miss if we focused only on how hard the days can be. Yes, some days I am exhausted and can’t wait for bedtime, but then my 1 year old will have a fit of giggles over something tiny and a hard day can turn into a wonderful day in a matter of seconds. We need to tell each other to remember that. #globalblogging
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