We women need one another and it takes stepping out in courage to ask or offer help. Be the brave one. Young mothers need help.
While we were doing some Christmas shopping, the conversation turned naturally to my daughter’s swollen belly. She was 25 years old and 23 weeks into her first pregnancy. She asked about the experience I had with giving birth and nursing a baby.
I quietly told her stories and answered her questions as we checked off the list of what we needed in Target.
The Guidance of a Loving Mother is Unequivocal
I told her about my horrifyingly embarrassing first experience trying to figure out how to nurse my newborn under a blanket, with my mother and husband in the hospital room. I finally threw off the blanket in frustration, and my mom and husband quickly excused themselves from the room.
“Make your first effort at nursing your baby without an audience,” I told her.
I continued to whisper advice through the Target aisle, about how to nurse a baby and suggestions about when it comes time to give birth to one–intimate details that a young woman should get from her mother. It was obvious she had spent hours online, gathering information about the entire baby experience, but stories from mom were carrying a different weight than what all of the search engines had to offer.
When I was that young girl expecting my first baby, I didn’t have any mother to talk to about nursing a baby. My mother and mother-in-law grew up in a time when nursing was frowned on, and the moms were encouraged to bottle feed with formula. (Thankfully we have wised up since then.)
So, my two moms could offer no counsel to me at all about how to get a baby to latch on or how often to nurse the baby or what to do when I ran into difficulties. And I lived in Texas in a time when we had to pay for long-distance phone calls, so communication about daily struggles as a mother was limited.
But the Second Best Thing Is…
But there is a very sad part to my story, and it grieves me now, even 25 years later, to think of it.
I went to church with a few hundred older women and never once thought to ask them for advice or for help. It never even crossed my mind. Apparently, it didn’t cross theirs either, because they never asked how I was doing or if I had any questions. They never asked if I needed help. The worst part is they loved me and my baby. I would show up at church, and they would all take turns holding my tiny little girl and passing her around. She was the church sweetheart.
What a horrible disconnect–to be surrounded by wise women but none of us thinking to ask or to offer assistance. Isn’t that sad?
So I’m writing to beg you not to let this happen in your circle.
Let me speak to you from both sides, because I was a floundering young mother, far away from mom or any help. Now I’m the 50-year-old getting ready to be a grandma, and I have a lot of experience under my belt. Here is an instructive Bible verse that needs to be dusted off and put to use:
Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children…
Titus 2:3-4. NIV
Be Brave and Bold
Young moms, look around at your church and be brave enough to ask an older woman if she would mind answering your questions. Watch her eyes light up at the honor! (If the first woman you ask isn’t a good fit, then keep asking around.)
Older women, remember what it was like to mother young children. It’s hard! And a lot of young women don’t have a family member they can ask for motherly advice. Don’t wait for them to come to you, and don’t force them to use Google because they don’t have any real women in their lives to talk to. Lean over at church and say, “Just so you know, I have two good ears and lots of experience and would be happy to listen if you ever have questions or need help with the mothering thing.” And then be ready to give your time and full attention to this young woman. She needs you.
See what I’m doing here? Matchmaking. Younger women, meet the older women. Older women, meet the younger women. Be brave and take purposeful steps toward one another.
Blessings from Montana,