MOPS has been such an encouragement to me through these early stages of mothering. When I was a mommy with a brand new baby, I had the cleanest house ever and I was desperate for adult interaction. When I had my second baby, the first was only 18 mos old. I cried a lot during that stage, and had wonderful moms surrounding me offering help and encouragement. Even though I have "lots" of kids, it's getting easier as they get older and can take some responsibility for themselves. I have had the opportunity to serve my MOPS group and help make it a place of support and encouragement for other moms.
This first meeting is always a great one. We get to hear from our Mentor Mom and meet our groups. It's always a refreshing meeting and sets a great tone for our year together. She posed a question to our tables that has had me thinking for a couple of days. "What encourages you in your mothering?"
We had many answers at our table, including the things that I mentioned above about my earliest experiences as a mom. But as I was thinking about it, I realized that now that my kids are "older" (the oldest is six!) there's a new encouragement. It comes from watching my children do what I've trained them to do. To take responsibility for themselves and others around them, to choose the right thing whether I'm watching or not. Now, don't read too much into this, they are still rambunctious little kids...but occaissionally one of them will display the kind of character we desire to be built into their lives and it helps me to see that we aren't completely failing at this paraenting thing.
Right now, the kids and I are visiting family in Minnesota. We're a big enough family now, that we're staying at a hotel. Our first morning here, the kids were so excited to be able to choose their own breakfast from the assortment laid out before them. Things that we don't eat at home- like fruit loops and donuts! My kids were doing a great job sitting at the table, not screaming or running around. I was pleased. Especially because other guests were using the breakfast room at the same time as us! One of the gentlemen said something to me as he left, and it made my heart smile the rest of the day. He simply turned to us on his way out and said, "You're doing a great job, mom."
Being a mom is a job that doesn't get a lot of praise. At least not until your kids have kids and they realize all that went into it! When somebody, even a stranger, acknowledges the hard work and labor that I am doing as a mother, my soul is rejuvinated. I was reminded of a time in Hobby Lobby when a similar instance occured- three years ago! Well, really this was when my boys had been misbehaving, and tipped over the cart with their baby sister in it. Instead of yelling and condeming, the Lord helped me talk calmly to them as I comforted the baby. Afterwards, a lady came up and told me that she appreciated how I handled the situation- so different than what she had typically seen from mothers in stores. I was encouraged by her comments to continue striving for the right attitude when speaking to my children. Not only does it produce the proper results in our family, but it's a great witness to others around us.
So, next time you see a young mom, take a moment and share with her a word of encouragement. It hardly takes any of your own time, and will give her the fortitude to continue on through the many challenges that will face her that day. And it might even bring a smile to her heart next week or next year.