It Takes a Village to Raise a Mom

Sleep deprivation fogged my brain and played with my emotions. Unable to shake my worry, I picked up the phone to call a friend. Though I was following all the same methods I had with my older two children, my infant son was developing a nasty diaper rash that stubbornly resisted any treatments I tried. My friend's gentle voice, her reassurances, and her new ideas calmed me down within five minutes.

That was nineteen years ago. These days I seek friends' wisdom about how to guide my children through career decisions, dating, or money management. I look to their examples in setting boundaries with technology, handling conflict, and weathering the gradual emptying of a nest.  

It occurred to me recently that many women have shown me how to be a mom or supported me in fulfilling this weighty role. A familiar saying tells us that it takes a village to raise a child. I am just as convinced that it takes a village to raise a mom.

Long before I realized it, my own mom started my motherhood training. As she knitted and crafted countless gifts for my teachers over the years, I learned the value of appreciation and handmade gifts. When I visited my grandparents in the summer, her letters showed me the importance of handwritten notes. Watching her I learned about sacrifice, perseverance, and volunteerism. The learning continued as I watched her care for her aging mother, and observed her interactions with grandkids.

As a newlywed, I was blessed to begin learning from another wonderful mom. My mother-in-law taught me so much about the art of hospitality, about intentionally gathering people together, and about maintaining family traditions. She has also modeled graciousness and kindness as she turns restaurant servers, store clerks, and the person sitting beside her at a ballgame into friends.

Since becoming a mom, dozens of women have stood shoulder to shoulder with me in this parenting journey. There are precious ones a few years or even decades ahead of me. I learn from their wisdom and experience, and gain courage from their sense of perspective. Others are in the same stage as I am. When we talk over coffee, I am reminded that I am not alone. Some have been present for a season, such as Lamaze class, the MOPS group, a ball team, or homeschooling. A few have been present from diapers to graduation, and everything in between.

There are women who have modeled how to pray for our children, how to be intentional about fun, how to have grace with a prodigal, how to be transparent, and how to let kids make mistakes. They have added joy to my mom life, and shared the pain.

Along the way there have also been people who brought meals when I had a new baby or back surgery, watched kids so my husband and I could get out for an evening, and helped put an addition on our house when we were preparing to add two more children to our family through adoption.

A young married couple befriended our two new children, making life a little easier during those chaotic first months. A single friend of mine watched our youngest son so my husband and I could have an out of town get-away while the older kids were at camp. For a whole school year, a retired teacher friend came weekly to help my daughter catch up as an English learner.

As I describe people who have patiently modeled, taught, helped, and encouraged me in motherhood, I realize that I am talking about something much broader. When we gather around one another and help each other grow in grace, we are practicing community and discipling. No matter what our role or calling, we need this. We are not meant to do mom life, or any part of the Christian life, in isolation. To thrive, we need to be part of a healthy community.

We learn from others, pass on what we have learned, and remind one another on the hard days that it's all worth it. This bent toward 'together' is a beautiful gift from our relational God.

So this Mother's Day I am thankful for my mom, for those who have influenced me in own motherhood, and for all who have helped me grow in faith. It takes a village to raise a mom, and the Body to raise a believer.