The other day Eldest and I had a wonderful mother-daughter date … until the drive home. Somehow, reflection on a movie shifted into an argument about laundry, which ended in me screaming, “Listen to me!”
Nice one, Mom …
I apologized, but my action shattered our fun. We arrived home in icy silence and entered the house, which looked exactly as we had left it. Cluttered countertops mocked me along with the “room of doom” upstairs where my other daughter with autism had been busy in my absence. She’d filled the room with the contents of the linen closet, paper scraps … and glue.
I wanted to hide and scream. “Why, God? When I pictured motherhood, it didn’t include scraping sticky newspaper bits and scrubbing peanut butter out of the carpet. Nor did I envision screaming like a hormonal banshee. I’m just so tired.”
Later, I spoke with a friend. She laughed after I shared my MOMents from that day and said, “Sounds like a typical day to me.”
I needed to hear those words. Sometimes I live under the self-imposed desire to be perfect, but I always seem to blow it because I am human. Still, I needed to know I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t the only mom who’d ever messed up and felt worn out. I know intellectually that others feel this way, but I needed to hear it again in that moment.
Encouragement is a gentle rain in the desert that nourishes the soil and helps plants survive the dry seasons. Sometimes I am the shriveled cactus, dying of thirst. I need encouragement. I need redirection. I need a listening ear.
None of us exists in a vacuum. I suppose this is why I love writing. I want other moms to know they aren’t alone. If I can do this, they can too.
Motherhood isn’t about being perfect. It’s a human journey, like everything else. Life isn’t always easy, but it is always blessed by the grace of God. Sometimes, though, the blessings are quite sticky and require a bit of soap and a few encouraging words to make them shine.
In my life, I’ve been blessed with some wonderful mentors and have learned from them how encourage others. Here are some ways to encourage your friends:
- Listen without judgment.
- Assure your friend she isn’t the only one who feels this way.
- Be willing to share about the times you’ve “been there” too.
- If she is open, provide advice or help, but again without judgement. Nothing is worse than feeling down and having Ms. Perfect tell you how easy something is.
- Share a laugh. Humor is delicious medicine.
- Pray with her, if she wishes, but always for her.
- When she shares something that hurt her, make non-blaming statements like, “I’m sorry that happened.” “That is a stressful situation.” “I can hear you are hurting.”
- Use discernment. Sometimes she might need some gentle redirection or a word of reproof, but wait for the right timing. While she’s in a puddle on the kitchen floor might not be the best time for her to hear. Open forums in social media might not be the best places to make a point to a friend, either.
- Keep her confidences.
I love Ecclesiastes 4, which says,
[verse reference=”Ecclesiastes 4:9-12″]Two is better than one … for if either of them falls, the one will lift up [her] companion …[/verse]
What encourages you?
Jennifer Dyer has an M.S. in Communications Disorders, which served her well in her professional career as a speech-language pathologist. Never did she imagine that her education and career were God’s way of preparing her to be a mom to her own daughter with autism. Today, she enjoys reaching out to other families who face similar diagnoses. As a cancer survivor, carpet-cleaning veteran, and originator of the “Messy House Ministry,” Jennifer feels blessed to share joy, peace, and humor with others facing life’s challenges. She is mom to two beautiful daughters and is thankful to be raising them, serving other families with unique needs, and using her gift of writing and speaking to minister to others. Jennifer is also the author of a youth fiction book series and is trusting God with His timing on publication. Jennifer has been a mom for 11 years. She and Brandon have been married for 13 years.