Monday, December 2, 2013

To the Young Mother Who did not Need God but Needed Help - I Survived and so will You.

I stumbled across a blog post a couple days ago. It was written by a young mother and she sounded fairly desperate.  She spoke of how older women were not following the Biblical mandate found in Titus 2:3-5 - -“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be submissive to their husbands, so that the Word of God will not be reviled.”

She was frustrated by the lack of help she and other young moms were getting from the Christian women who are older.  She did go on to say that she had been blessed by an older lady that did eventually step in to watch her babies so she could have a break, a nap, or grocery shop sans kids and also of hiring a young lady to come in and help her around the house on occasion.  You can read the entire post here.

Here is my response to this young mother:

I feel for you moms with little bitty ones. I have been there. But, I take issue with the expectation that older women should be doing more to help you.

The Bible doesn't tell me or any other woman to go to your house and babysit. Is it a nice thing to do? Absolutely, but it is not a Biblical mandate nor is it a requirement of being an older woman.  Older women have put in their time with their own little ones. They have put their time in the church nursery. Now they get to reap the reward of a hard job, well done.  They are not called to be the caretakers of your children or your home. That is your job. That is your calling. That is your responsibility.  It is not all fun.  It is work. It is hard. But, even though it feels like an eternity before you will ever get a full nights sleep, it is short.  I miss smelling my newborn's baby smell.  I miss the chubby hands of a toddler reaching for my glasses. I miss the contented feeling of nursing a baby at my breast.  Those days go by all too quickly.

This is how older moms and women can help -

  • We can help you make a plan. We can not make you stick to it.  
  • We can show you how to deal with unexpected circumstance. We can not make you see.
  • We can tell you what we did to get through each day. We can not expect that the same things will work for you. 
  • We can tell you to lower your expectations. We can not make you do that. 
  • We can tell you to relax a little. We can not relax for you.
  • We can teach you a hundred other things about running a home, caring for infants and children, caring for a marriage, making a budget, creating meal plans and all the other things that are involved in house and home.  But we can not make you learn.  

What I have found so often with young mothers who come to me for advice is that they see no possible solutions.  They seem to know everything, have tried everything, and are not really wanting to do anything that may seem to add to their already heavy load even though it would help them in the long run.  Keep in mind, I have been there.

So my biggest piece of advice to you as a young mother - - - Do not write off the wisdom and words of those that have gone before you.  Do not refuse to see possibilities in seemingly impossible situations.

When we that have walked through the fire say, "lower your standards," we really mean just that. Your house is not going to stay spotless and if you are anything like I was, you will learn to accept mediocrity and find more contentment in it.  Somedays you need to just call the day a success if you managed to wash a pair of underwear in the shower and blow dry it dry.

When we say, "savor this time," we really mean that.  Your kids are going to be big before you know what happened and you will miss their babyness.  You will almost forget what they felt like when you held them as infants.

When we say, "relax and enjoy your life," we really mean that. You have to find the joy. Some days this will come very easily. Other days you will dig and dig and dig before you find the joy. But, with practice you will get better at this and it will bring you contentment even when there is milk all over the floor and someone is crying and another is using the milk as paint for the walls.

When we say, "give it time," we really mean that. Some situations are out of your hands and you will be able to do nothing to fix it. Time is a gift from God. Accept it and allow it to do its work.
I remember when my kids were itty bitty.  I was 32 when I had my youngest child. At that time I had a newborn, a 2 year old, a 3 year old, and an 8 year old with significant behavioral and emotional issues.  I was very overwhelmed.  I also trended toward thinking that the older women in my life were not doing their "job" and they were not "helping" me.  I had all the hormones that come with giving birth and nursing. I had toddlers. I had a house to keep up. I had a marriage to keep up. It was a lot.  

Now I am 37 and my kids are 5, 8, 8, and 13.  My life is not a bed of roses. My 13 year old still has significant issues. My 8 year old boy has a chronic illness, my 8 year old girl has learning disabilities and my 5 year old is still dependent on me to help her with a lot of things.  But, I am sitting on the side of the fence where everyone can find and tie their own shoes, get their own glass of water, wipe their own butts, and take a bath on their own. They are also no longer adding to my burden of cooking and housekeeping but sharing the load. It is really amazing at the difference in my life compared to just 3 years ago, when I felt like I would lose my mind.  There is light at the end of the itty bitty kid tunnel!


Rebekah said...

Thank you for this. I am the author of the original Desperate Housewives post. I have seen several blog posts responding to mine. What I long for when reading the Titus 2 passage is not some older woman to come do my job so that I can put my feet up for a minute. If mothers are good at one thing, it is sacrificing.

What I long for is wisdom and insight. For encouragement from someone who has been there. For love and compassion from someone who understands. From that person can also come the hard truths, pointing out where I could do better, etc.

A lot of what you said here in this post is so true and I am slowly learning this myself. My kids are growing up. My baby will be a year old in a few months. The time is going faster with each year that goes by. And I am wanting to cherish every minute of it.

A lot of the things I write about are things that have been pent up for many years (just started a blog a few months ago). Overall, I have encountered in my life an attitude from older women of "I am glad I am not you right now", "I raised my kids, its your turn, sorry honey, you'll make it though" and "Enjoy every minute, it goes so fast" All of these have elements of truth, but they are not helpful to a young mother who is struggling. I don't know if it is the hardening of people's hearts or if people just forget what it is really like and so they don't remember what was and wasn't helpful during that time.

Anyway, I don't want to take any more of your time. Thanks for reading and thanks for your response. I think there are some good words here, I love the poem. Sincerely, Rebekah

Jessica said...

Rebekah, I am glad that you found somethings good about my response. When I wrote the post, I had in mind that you were sitting across from me, at my kitchen table, and I was feeding you coffee and my kids were watching your little ones so you could hear me.

I can not speak to the women around you. I can however speak for myself, and trust me when I say - I am glad I am not you right now. haha! Really, having itty bitties is hard! I remember several days in a row would go by and I only had talked to my kids. By the time my husband got home the only thing I had left was enough will to make or order dinner and to grunt at him a few times and just prayed it sounded encouraging to him.

When I tell people to enjoy every minute - I really mean that. It is an effort. But the more you practice trying to find joy in the mundane and sometimes downright horrible (thinking of a particularly bad poop incident here), the easier it will be to find the joy in it all.

I know these things sound unhelpful on the surface, but when you look at the truths behind them, you will see how helpful they are. Because they are the truth. And the truth will not fail you.

I have not raised my children into adulthood. I have one well on her way, but the others have longer to be at home than not. I have a couple of really good friends that have raised most of their kids into adulthood. They have told me at times - I have put in my time and now it is your time, I am sorry honey, you will make it through.

And it is helpful because it reminds me there is hope in the times that seem hopeless - when it seems that I have failed motherhood in the worst possible ways, when it seems that God has made a huge error in judgement by giving me these kids.

I know that I will see this through because there are those who have gone before me and they made it though. They are sorry when things are hard because they *do* remember how it feels and they have not forgotten. I know that those ladies have prayed for me, even though they don't "announce" it. I know because they are my friends.

Rebekah, I am sorry that you have found a shortage of women in your life that try to understand and offer you compassion and love and encourage you. I want you to know that are women who are there - I am one of them.

Please feel free to email me anytime. jessi 0519 @ g mail . com (all together) or find me on facebook -