This past weekend my aunt asked me for insight and advice after a young mom had approached her in tears. She has 3 young children (3, 2, and 6 months), and a husband who works long hours. I thought for awhile, because initially I felt completely unqualified, “why ask me? I don’t know more than the next mom.”
Two years ago I was there with four young children, tired, overwhelmed and exhausted. Joel worked two jobs and I was home alone so much of the time. When I became pregnant with our second set of twins we agreed he would quit his job. It was after months of my pleading, and just short of a nervous break down that he relented and finally gave notice at his part time job.
I remember that woman, weak, tired, desperately seeking to do her best but feeling incapable and defeated. I would yell at my kids, yell at my husband, lash out in anger and felt so tightly wound – ready to snap at any moment. In my mind no one was helping in the ways I needed it, instead I felt judged and under attack. Everywhere I turned I felt someone had a reason I was wrong, my self confidence was at an all time low. I needed to be built up, reminded of who I was, with freedom to grow in confidence.
After I had Sam and Ben my confidence began to blossom. I knew what I needed as I was growing in my faith journey – gaining confidence as the daughter of a Great King, rather than relying on my own capabilities (or lack there of). I realized being a mom was my calling and I needed to step up fully engaged in that role. What I was having trouble with in the moment was explaining how other people helped me get from A to B.
1. Trust her instincts and believe in her.
She has given birth to this child/children, she is their mom. She knows deep down what is best, and how to do that. Let her make mistakes without passing judgement, and be there to support her as she learns the ropes to motherhood.
2. Build her confidence and remind her she is doing great.
Tell her how great she is, what a natural she is. How peaceful the baby looks with her. If she is looking nervous give her space, let her retreat to a quiet room if needed.
The first night I was home with Sam I worked so hard to give a small amount of colostrum to him. He was fussy and screaming loudly – no one else noticed but Joel’s mom whispered to me how great my effort was. I had worked hard, her taking notice of that let me know how much confidence she has in me. She wasn’t worried he would be fed, she knew I would make the right choices, she saw and acknowledged the effort we were making together.
3. Listen to her, her needs, and her wants.
Did she get up and leave? Don’t follow her, let her be alone. Did she ask you not to do the dishes? Then don’t. Did she say “please don’t fold the laundry” – then don’t. Do not expect her to fulfill YOUR need to be wanted and useful.
By all means if she seems happy for you to do simple chores – go for it, bless her. Be always aware you are in her home. Momma bear instinct is fierce, hormone related feelings are hard to explain. Don’t take things to heart and ride the waves!
4. Offer support, and follow through.
Show up at the time you stated, be understanding if she changes her mind or tells you it is a bad day. For me having someone to sit, hold a baby, and chat was the most helpful. I didn’t need to go out, I didn’t want to leave the comfort of home. But a shower and someone holding a baby so they were not crying was lovely.
5. Pray for her, and then let her know.
I found encouragement when someone would say, “every time I pass your house I say a prayer for your family”. Wow, someone cares enough about us to offer up a prayer as they pass? It gave me comfort knowing I was prayed for, loved, and present in other people’s mind. That my job at home with my kids was worth it to them.
Let her know you are praying. Encourage her. Love her.
I hope you found this post helpful in someway. I am always learning new things as a mom, and friend. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, what has helped you along the way, or another method you use to be a source of encouragement to someone you love. Thanks for reading and sharing with me!