Before you read this, and think I am Mother Teresa, I need to start with a confession. It’s pretty bad.
Screaming babies in church make me crazy. I am so sorry if this offends you. I have honestly prayed about it. I don’t know what to do. I am a mom and my babies have screamed. I have tried tuning it out. I have tried literally praying about it while the screaming is happening. I have done it all. My heart pounds. I feel angry. I feel frustrated. I feel judgy. I want them to get up and take their babies out in the lobby so so bad. Ok, it’s out. I said it.
So, there are times I am incredibly generous and helpful and loving and non-judgy to moms. And then there is that. Please forgive me.
The truth is that we moms need each other. We need each other often. We need way less judgement and way more encouragement. When I do this well and we do this well, I see the sisterhood of motherhood the way God designed it. It’s beautiful.
10 Ways We Can Help Each Other As Moms
1. Silence Is Golden
Don’t ever underestimate, the power of a simple nod or smile. The girl with the screaming toddler or teenager with drama at the table. Just remember, that mom is flat worn out. Give her a smile that says “I am not judging you. Hang in here.” It will leave her with just the impression she needs. That she is not alone. She is not failing.
I noticed a mom in Chick-fil-A the other day and she had tears pouring. I did NOT feel it was right to interject myself into her day or life. Her head was down and she wasn’t making eye contact. I just starting praying for her right there. It was something I could do. Something we can all do.
3. Less Judgment
I try to remind myself of this every time I hear a baby screaming in church. What if this was her first time back? What if she needed to hear the message way more than me? What if the screaming toddler in the restaurant was sick? What if the mom had a newborn and just tried to get out for the first time in weeks? We don’t know anyone’s story and if we did – we’d probably cry with each other instead of rolling our eyes.
4. More Encouragement
I find myself doing this all of the time. I give unsolicited feedback or advice. Kind of like this blog post. Who asked you lady? You know what is received well everytime? Sincere encouragement! No one wants advice from a stranger “enjoy these years, they will go fast” or “Have you tried a pacifier?” Just smile and say, “She sure is cute!” Or, “You are doing a great job!” Just yesterday, I saw a mom with a screaming toddler at Panera Bread – we exchanged the sweetest smiles. I wanted her to know that I wasn’t judging her and she was going to make it. When I was walking out, I could see her head sinking so low. When I got to the car, I wrote this note and went back in and slipped it on her table and just ran out.
I have no idea what she thought, but I heard her say “awww” as I was leaving. I hope she felt a huge hug from God and reassurance that she’s not alone. The hard days are hard.
(PS – Yes, it is totally weird I took a photo. I promise it was a sincere moment and not staged. I wrote this after it happened – after seeing your huge response to the moment. I wanted to share with y’all as usual and my girls. When I start a much needed therapy group called Bloggers Anonymous – this will be something we cover. How to live your life without taking photos of every move.)
5. No One-Ups
Another common mistake we make is the old one-up. To relate to another mom in public we tell a tale. Or, try to relate – but it feels more like a one-up. “You think that’s bad – one time I…” Or, “Well, girls are wild… but try taking 4 boys to a restaurant…” Try one of the other tips before the one-up. It’s a sure deflater.
6. Consider Your Approach
Sometimes our offer to help can actually insult. I’ve had this happen before. When we see a mom struggling and we offer to help – it somehow suggests she isn’t doing it well. I have changed my wording a little. If I see a mom wrangling nine bags and three kids onto a plane by herself, I whisper to her (because it’s about the help not about you helping), “I have traveled with little ones before. You are handling it so great. Just know I am right here behind you and so happy to do anything you need.” She normally nods and says, “No thank you.” But then a minute later smiles and hands me a bag. We don’t speak much but she knows and I know. She is so able, but the help means the world.
7. One Simple Question
The most effective question I have ever used with a friend or stranger is this, “How can I help?” When we begin to make assumptions – it gets tricky. Just simply ask in their state of distress – How can I help? If they freeze up – then you can suggest. Can I carry a bag for you? Can I get you some napkins (during a massive spill)? Can I call someone (during a fall or accident)?
8. Simple Serving
We have a radar as moms. We see things. They can either frustrate us or prompt us to serve. Just yesterday, it was raining and there wasn’t a place to put my Publix cart and just as I was CLEARLY scanning for a place to go – a lady looked at me and kept walking. I wanted to scream, “HELLO MA’AM – don’t you think you could take this for me so me and my child don’t get soaked?” And because I’m anti-leave-cart-in-lot-girl… and training up a kind adult we walked in the rain all the way up to the store. And, I told Larson, next time we go to the grocery, remind me to take someone’s cart back in. Look out for each other. The chances are good – that as you are going in – someone is loading and needs an extra hand. This is just one example of many. Don’t let the frustrations get you down – let them prompt you to serve others. It will be contagious in your community
9. Compliment Her
One common theme among moms – we think we look terrible all of the time. True story. But it’s actually not true. I saw my friend Nicole this morning who is seriously a smokin hot momma. I texted her (on the verge of creepy) and said, “That color looks great on you!” Just take one second to remind your friends that they are looking great. E-V-E-R-Y woman in America can be reminded. When you think it, share it.
10. Hug It Out
This is probably best reserved for your friends vs strangers, but just hug it out people. Sometimes, we just need a good ole hug. Sending one your way.
You are an awesome mom. Hang in there. I mean it. You’re gonna make it. One step at a time. Chin up my beautiful sister. xoxo