Certainly it often seems as if mothers can handle anything. Who else can talk on the phone while making the kids’ lunches, feeding the dog, and checking the newspaper for coupons? Moms who work outside of the home do all that before leaving for work in the morning—not to mention getting the kids out the door, picking up the house, and setting the pork chops out to thaw.
Is it any wonder mothers need encouragement? Even the most competent of mothers has moments in the middle of the night, or when she’s racing to pick up a sick child at school, when she thinks, “I just don’t know if I can do this any longer.” The truth is, she has to. No one can replace a mother.
One thing I’ve realized as my own kids have grown up and married is that while the role of mothering changes with time, a mother is a mother until the day she dies. Women in different stages of mothering need our encouragement in different ways.
More than anything else, the young mom at home with toddlers needs a sanity break. The most encouraging thing we can do for her is to give her time to restore herself emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Movie tickets, a gift certificate to a beauty salon, or just a coupon for “two hours all to yourself” are extremely encouraging as long as any offer we make is accompanied by babysitting arrangements. If you stay with the kids, when the mom comes back tell her all the ways you observe that she is positively molding the lives of her little charges.
The mother of a teenager may need more encouragement than anyone. One day everything is going great and she’s just sure her teen is going to change the world for the better. The next day a phone call comes, or a discussion explodes, and things look bleak at best, impossible at worst. The most effective encouragement for these moms often comes from mothers who have been through the teen years and seen their kids emerge on the other side stable and whole. (They really DO grow through the angst of being a teenager. And they really will tell you that they love you again!) If you know a mom struggling with a teenager now, write a note or call to say “hang in there” in an encouraging way.
Those blessed to still have moms in their seventies, eighties, and beyond know that these moms deserve and need our encouragement, too. They need to hear that they did a good job of rearing their children, and that they are doing a good job of leaving a legacy of love to their families. If we believe this to be true, we must never miss an opportunity to tell them so.
My mother was always encouraged when someone outside the family said something complimentary about one of her three grown girls. If you are acquainted with the mother of a friend, consider writing her a note and letting her know how much of her you see in the friend you love—or just thank her for rearing such a wonderful daughter.
“Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children,” wrote William Makepeace Thackeray. Every mother knows that it’s only by God’s grace, and with His help, that she is worthy of the name and able to “handle anything.” Let’s give the moms we know and love His encouragement through us. Happy Mother’s Day!