A Note from Chris Adams: If I had not had a young moms Bible study to help me navigate mommy-hood with twin daughters, I cannot imagine how I would have survived! Read this real life story by guest writer, Allison Pickett, a mom who was content and lonely at the same time. Pay special attention to her practical tips for mom’s ministry leaders to consider.
Once upon a time, in a small house in Louisiana, there was a mommy. She had many small children who were noisy and playful, naughty and nice, grumpy and cheerful. The mommy’s heart was so full that its seams would burst at the tiniest kiss and the simplest hand-hold.
The mommy and the children also had a daddy that they loved. He was a big, strong man with rough hands, a long beard, and legs like trees. He worked hard to take care of the mommy and the children. Every day, the daddy woke up early to get ready for the day. Many days, he would leave the house while everyone was still tucked in their beds, sleeping soundly. The mommy would hear him leave as he locked the door behind him. And she would sigh.
She would roll over and feel the side of the bed where he had been and smell his pillow. Then she would get up and begin her day. Brushing teeth and making breakfast. Filling cups and wiping noses. Playing with cars and princesses. Taking walks and drawing pictures. Lunches and bathroom breaks. Errands and school and doctors appointments. Nap times, dinner times, bath times, and bedtimes. The children needed a lot from their mommy. They needed her touch and her smile. They needed her eyes to meet their eyes and nod in approval at their accomplishments. The children had thousands of questions and millions of ideas. And the mommy delighted in all their wonderings and sing-song musings, even if she had to look back in regret, occasionally.
But the mommy was lonely. She felt alone with the children and sadness would fill her heart and try to steal her joy away. The mommy would remember that she was full of love for the children who needed her. She would remember that God had blessed her home with sounds of crying and laughter, fighting and sharing, whining and thankfulness. She would remember that she had been given a purpose bigger than she ever knew. And that soon, the daddy would be home to wrap her up with his big, strong arms.
The days are long and short at the same time. They stretch out and seem unending. And then, just like that, they are over and everyone is nestled in their beds. The sun leaves the sky, and the mommy and the daddy exhale and smile at each other. Their eyes are closing and their hair is graying, but they are glad to be a team again after a lonely, happy day.
Time goes on for the lonely mommy. Each day the children are older and smarter, quicker and taller, wiser and braver. They let go of her hand and cross the street by themselves. They’re off to school and have new adventures with new friends. And the mommy wonders why she almost let her self-inflicted loneliness ruin it all. She wonders why she would believe a lie that she is alone in her home and not good at her job.
So, tomorrow she will wake up and try to remember: “You are not alone. You are loved and seen. Your job is among the highest of callings. Give hugs and forgiveness. You are not alone.”
Many moms replied to me about this blog and told me that I wasn’t alone in my loneliness. The feeling of never being alone but often feeling isolated wasn’t something just a few of us felt. It’s probably closer to the majority. Don’t forget, moms at all stages of life can be lonely. Moms of littles, moms of teenagers, and moms of kids heading off to college all have the need to gather and take a break from “momming” for a second.
So how can we help? How can we reach out to moms and make a real effort to pull each other out of our isolation chambers (AKA our houses and our brains)? Here are a few ideas that have worked well for me and the moms I love:
- Create Opportunities. Provide a few high quality, low stress, gathering opportunities for moms each month. You may be able to offer MOPS groups, bible studies, book clubs, or lunches. No matter the subject matter, moms will come if they can relax and someone else can watch the kiddos for an hour.
- Make it Free. Free childcare is such a blessing to a mom who might normally skip an event to save money. I know from personal experience that no matter the good reviews, the content, or the location, I am less likely to attend if there are costs for childcare. If your ministry is financially able to cover those costs, the benefit for moms who have tight budgets will be immeasurable.
- Invite and Follow Through. Extend an invitation for one-on-one, face to face, old-fashioned lunch dates. Can the kids come, too? Sure! Can I leave them at home with my husband? Of course! Do whatever it takes; just get moms out of their usual environments. Pack sandwiches and meet at the park. Throw the hand sanitizer in your purse and meet at Chick-fil-a. And don’t forget the importance of follow-ups. “Do you want to grab lunch sometime?” is a great first step, but don’t leave it there. Continue with “How about Tuesday at 12:30?” instead. Good intentions don’t erase loneliness!
- Communicate. Exchange phone numbers with moms and send the first text. There’s something about getting a “Hey, how’s your day going?” text that can pull a mom right out of a funk. Also, never underestimate the power of a baby sloth picture or a kitten meme. They work wonders.
- Do Life Together. If you want to invest in moms, simply be mindful of what your routines are and invite them along. Are you on your way to Target? See if she wants to come along. Are you taking your kids to the playground? Check in and see if she would like to bring her kids, also. Sometimes, just reminding moms that you are willing to bring them into your life can be meaningful.
- Pray…A Lot. There’s no sentence more important or encouraging than “How can I pray for you?” Then, when you follow up with, “I prayed for you today,” followed by “How is _______ going?” she will be greatly encouraged by how much you genuinely care. When we support each other through our prayers, we are better moms, wives, sisters, and friends. We are all less lonely when we have built a circle that prays together.
Allison Pickett lives in Monroe, Louisiana with her husband and three wild ones. She regrettably loves soda and sweatshirts but proudly loves fresh air and spinach. You can read her blog at allisonpickett.wordpress.com