Whoa! I haven’t done 7 Quick Takes Friday in a looooooooong time. I had to search Conversion Diary up and down, scratching my head until I found the post where she bequeathed this awesome blogging link-up to Kelly. Well, I may be late to the party (again), but better late than never!
(7QT): Momma Mentors
Just a few weeks ago, we celebrated Mothers’ Day. This whole month, the Church asks us to remember Mary, our Mother in Heaven. In light of this, I thought: what better way to spend a 7QT than reflecting on Mommas? I have been so blessed in my life with great examples of motherhood, and I am equally blessed to be continually meeting new mommas who challenge and uplift me in unexpected ways. So I’ve compiled a list of what I believe to be the “Top 7 Momma Mentors” every one of us should have. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the women who inspire and challenge you! And be sure to visit “This Ain’t the Lyceum” for the rest of the link-up.
- Your Mom-
this is the woman who raised you, who was your first introduction to unconditional love. (I love you, Mom!) Mothers, whether biological or adoptive, teach us so much about the way the God loves us. Freud so famously gave us the “explanation” of God in terms of a cosmic father-figure— a power which can watch over us and take care of us. While his assertion that this infantile need led to the “fabrication” of religiosity is simply false, there is something powerful and True in the idea that God is our Father in His transcendent power to give us life and guide us. Yet equally true is the image of God as a Mother who takes care of us: “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” (Is 66:13) This doesn’t negate the fact that Jesus teaches us to call God “Father,” yet here Sacred Scripture teaches us of the way in which Mothers image God in His immanence. A Father may be potent from afar, but it is the Mother who is our comforter, who nourishes us with her very existence. Regardless of what your adult relationship with your mother looks like (though I hope it is a happy one!), your Mother is a mentor simply because she gave you life. Her beautifully complex character may be one to which you aspire in your own motherhood, or depending on your situation it may serve as a cautionary tale: either way, she, in her motherhood, is a powerful image of how intimately God loves you. And if she’s your new-found BFF as an adult and your go-to hotline for All Things Baby, that’s even better.
- Your Mother-in-Law- This is the woman who didn’t give you life, but is the “other half” of your children’s lives. Traditionally, the MIL/DIL relationship can be one of contention as two women vie for the attention and affection of the beloved son. Yet there are so many lessons a woman can learn from her MIL– and I’m not just talking about the secret recipes that unlock the key to your husband’s heart (some day I will be brave enough to ask for that potato salad… Mmm). As a mom, it’s interesting to realize that this other lady is just as much your children’s grandmother as your own mom: the two occupy the same category of space in your children’s hearts. It is likewise her example which shaped your husband’s image of the Immanence of God. She has knowledge, she has experience– but even more challenging is the fact that her knowledge and experience can be very different from that instilled by your own mother. Whether you incorporate that into your own parenting depends on many factors, but at the very least you cannot deny that her dedication and love produced the man you love, whose love supports you in your own vocation as mother. She is your mentor in “How to Raise Kids Like Your Husband”– and that is very powerful, indeed.
- The Mom-You-Want-To-Be-When-You-Grow-Up- This can be someone like a surrogate mother, whose children are grown, or it can be a mom who is just ever-so-slightly more experienced than you. Either way, this mom serves not only as another great resource, but also as a model to which you can aspire. Every mom needs to have a window into that Next Stage of mommy-hood, so that she can keep her own current challenges in perspective and prepare herself for the challenges to come. The tricky part of having friends like this is that you can trip into “idol” territory. Just remember that no momma, no matter how experienced, has it all figured out. Nor should you try to be Just Like Her because she’s a wonderful mom. Remember that You are supposed to be You, and while it’s important to have good role models and mentors to look up to, they shouldn’t serve as a line-by-line blueprint substitution for the mom you are called to be.
- The New(er) Mom- If you are a “seasoned” mom, being around New Moms is very important! It reminds you of your own growth and forces you back into those bleary-eyed first few years of parenting. Watching (and assisting!) a new mom navigate the muddy waters of parenthood for the first time is both a humbling and gratifying experience. I’ve seen this as I’ve watched my sister blossom into her own unique, beautiful version of motherhood. Having friends “behind” you in your stage of motherhood opens up a window into your past, and a simultaneous window for her into the different (but still bleary-eyed!) future. On the other hand, if you ARE a new mom, you’re also not immune to the need for other new moms. You need to have women journeying with you into this new stage of life: someone who isn’t used to the sheer amount of bodily fluids you are suddenly dripping in, who is equally flummoxed and delighted by this new role. You need someone to text when those diapers explode or you forget to bring the Beloved Comfort Object on a trip to the mall. You need someone who can laugh at the absurdity of it all and say, “ME TOO!” A more experienced mom can cherish these friendships because they help her look back on the “new” days and see her growth. A new mom can look at the newness of another mom and say, “I’m so glad I’m not alone.”
- The Mom Who Parents Differently- We all naturally gravitate towards people who parent similarly to us, but it’s also challenging and fun (and sometimes frustrating!) to be around another mom who doesn’t do time-outs or time-ins the way you do. I don’t mean “the mom who doesn’t parent.” Let’s get that straight. But maybe she doesn’t feed her kids the same things you do. She baby-wears or co-sleeps or cries-it-out or bans-screen-time or nurses-in-public or only-does-bottles or any number of things YOU. DON’T. DO. As long as there is no danger to your child in being around her or her children, I think it’s a grand idea to embrace the differences we are inevitably presented with in mothering styles. Even if you never talk about it, this sort of happy coexistence can serve to jostle you out of a comfort zone into something new, or strengthen your confidence in the parenting style that works for you.
- Your Single/Non-Parent Friend(s)- Take a page out of Rick Astley’s playbook on this one: NEVER give them up!
(Unless, of course, they all of a sudden get un-singled or become parents, in which case that’s totally cool, too) As much as every mom needs plenty of mentors to help her understand, explore and embrace her momma-hood, we also need friends who remind us that momma-hood isn’t the essence of Who We Are. Every mom needs time away from the kids to understand, explore and embrace other aspects of her self that may have gone unnoticed for a while. This is also why it’s important to have date-nights with your hubby, but having single or non-parent friends is crucial to tapping into that part of you even Before Wife and Mommy. That woman is still there and she’s still a part of you– and even if you’ve changed a LOT since getting married and/or having kids, there’s still a part of you that needs to be nourished by friendships that don’t share your state of life. All vocations are leaven for one another.
- Momma Mary- of course!
Actually, this is the hardest one for me. I am very happy that the Church takes this month of May to remind us that Mary is our saintly mother, because Mary is the lowly woman whom God has chosen to be His own Mother. That’s pretty cool. But as an example for what I come up against day-to-day, I must confess I’ve always felt a bit of a disconnect. We believe that Mary was not only sinless in act, but that she was preserved from Original Sin from the get-go. Her Son, though human, also happened to be God. I am a sinful mother with three little children who are very far from Divine Status. How on earth can Mary’s motherhood teach me anything about my own? Then I take an honest look at this woman and I see: Obedience. Trust. Patience. Love. Compassion. Heartache. More Trust. I have so much to learn from her example about how to be a Child of God, which teaches me about how to be a Woman of God, which teaches me about how to be a Wife and Mother. So despite some obvious differences, Mary is a great mentor, after all. Then, of course, there are those times you sit quietly cuddling your child and your head gets all mushy with love and you can’t help but join Mary as you ponder in your heart this great mystery of Life.
And there you have it: The Top 7 Momma Mentors I think we all should have.