Mommin’ is hard. But, I am about to give you the most freeing statement.
You are not responsible for fixing another mama.
I mean, does that not deserve a big exhale? Making decisions big and small for our own families is an enormous responsibility; however, when another mama shares her current challenges why do we feel the need to jump in to fix it for her?
We often believe that giving advice or solutions is supportive and even compassionate, but many moms are left feeling judged or even shamed. Yes, our help can often just be judgy opinions clothed in mom jargon with a pretty ribbon of Oh Bless Your Heart.
Recently I posted in a private moms group asking for prayer for wisdom on a decision that I had to make for my little. I wasn’t met with prayers at all. Instead I awoke to a gazillion notifications of unsolicited advice and A LOT of YOU SHOULD… And I have learned you never SHOULD on a mama. I did not want to be fixed. I wanted to feel supported.
Mommin’ is hard. To be able just to express your feelings and know you are not alone is so necessary to our journeys as mothers. I have discovered that often times we mistake someone’s cry for support with our need to fix because we ourselves are so uncomfortable with the big feelings that come from parenting. Somehow that advice we give is an unconscious attempt to control our own feelings. And I know this mama is an ever-recovering control freak.
How can we support one another? Easy. Just tell that mama that she is not alone. It’s that simple. You may be wondering when it is okay to offer advice? Well in my experience, a mom will ask. If you are not sure, again just ask if there is anything that you can do. In these moments, I have also recognized my own uncomfortable feelings and receive it as an invitation to deal with them. In many situations, the support of mama friends actually is the door that opens to the solution that a mom needs.
Sometimes motherhood feels like a lonely place. What we desire is connection and community. Fixing one another implies that there is something wrong with what we are feeling or experiencing. Most often our need for understanding is mistaken with a need for help. Our greatest way to actually help one another is to be able to sit in a space of empathy and not sympathy. Empathy is the ability to sit with other people’s feelings as if we were having them ourselves. It is being present with the person. Sympathy refers to the ability to recognize someone’s feelings and feeling sorrow for them, but not participate with them. Most of the time, sympathy leads to a need to fix or compare.
Being a mom has been my own great journey to experience the real humanity of others. What we all desire is to be able to be vulnerable in our truth without the fear of the world telling us we are doing it all wrong. Mommin’ is hard. We are not humans to be fixed. We are mothers collectively called to stand in the gap for one another.