The summer temperatures were still in the high 90s when we met over iced coffee. In a few weeks, the fall semester would soon begin. I would teach a couple of courses I had not taught in quite some time, and I appreciated a colleague’s offer to lend her expertise. We did not know each other well, but we knew enough to know we were both in similar professional and personal life stages.
At first, to break the proverbial ice, we exchanged niceties about our young children: What they did all summer, our kids’ school enrollment process, and so forth. Before we knew it, time had run away with our words. Forty-five minutes into our meeting, we had yet to talked about fall classes. Instead, we were exchanging deep concerns about whether our children needed to be evaluated for various issues, how to foster friendships amongst siblings, and to keep our marriage a priority when our kids require so much from us. That day, we spent very little of our time discussing our courses. Mostly, we deliberated how to do our other job well: Motherhood.
The encounter reminded me just how essential it is for mothers to have other moms with whom they can process. Whether you’re a full time working mom, or a full time stay at home, or some combination of both, you are in the throes of mothering. Motherhood is arguably one of the toughest jobs out there. We need trusted friends with whom we can wrestle through the highs and lows, joys and sorrows of raising children. Likely, most of us would say we have a peer group, a circle of friends doing life with us. They’re the moms we call and invite to our kids’ play dates and birthday parties. They may even be the same women we call for a mom’s night out and a glass of wine.
I wondered, though, in addition to having a circle of mom peers, how many of us have a mom mentor? And, on the other side of the same coin, how many of us are mentoring younger moms? Growing up in church, I’ve heard nearly all my life about the importance of being discipled, living life in accountability, and then discipling other people. As I thought about mentorship, it occurred to me there isn’t enough emphasis on these sorts of relationships once we enter motherhood. Yet, I find myself in need of wise women speaking into my life more than ever. And 15 years into marriage and 6 years into motherhood, I may finally have a thing or two to offer a younger mom.
So, this is my call for more mother mentors. This is my plea for more of us to be mentored and simultaneously aspire to be mentors..
Dear Seasoned Mom with kids in high school, college, or beyond, we younger moms need you! We need someone who has journeyed motherhood’s road to run back and tell us it will all be alright and worth it in the end. Reminisce your hard earned stories with us. Show us the scars that have long healed over. Tell us how with each heartbreak, you mended. By some miraculous, supernatural power, your heart grew bigger, stronger, wider, and deeper each time. Share with us how scary it was to watch your baby walk into a kindergarten classroom, junior high dance, driver education course, and across the high school graduation stage. Share with us, also, the pride of watching your child dance in her ballet recitals and play at his piano performances. But tell us how you and your child both became braver, older, wiser on those day. Remind young moms the days are long but the years are short, as they say.
Younger moms, the ones with children in the elementary school grades. We need you, too. You’re out of the bleary-eyed, crazy hormone fluctuating newborn stage. And yet, when a baby cries, your body still instinctively responds. Your kids are sleeping through the night– mostly, on most night. But you vividly recall the late night feedings. You remember the questions, all those questions, about solid foods, teething, vaccines, and potty training. We need you, too. We need you in the trenches with us as we dig our way out and build a newer, more beautiful, an even better version of who we were before we were sleep deprived mamas. Remind new moms that babies don’t keep, and these infant days are fleeting.
I haven’t been a mother for too terribly long, but I already recognize the need for mother mentors. We need each other for community and support. There is value in both having an older, wiser mother mentor and being one to a younger mama who is in a season a few years behind us.