Back-to-school season does it to me every year. As I meander through Target, I inevitably hit the school supply aisle. There I see moms and their little ones loading up carts with backpacks, pencils, and notebooks, and I remember the days when I was doing the same thing. It seems like only yesterday I was that mom, those were my kids. But the truth is, it wasn’t yesterday. It wasn’t even last year. In fact, it’s been over two decades since I did that the first time. Really? How is that possible?
As I stand there in Target, I am reminded anew that the years are short—really short. All we older moms know that. We’ve come to realize that we were told the truth all those years ago—that the demanding, exhausting years with our needy little ones really are fleeting. We might have rolled our eyes—or as a dear friend says, “smiled politely and nodded”—when a well-meaning older woman (or man) told us to cherish the days with our little ones, because they would be grown up before we knew it. In truth, we really didn’t believe what they said. We honestly had no idea how fast the years would fly. We were sure that we had all the time in the world looking at us.
…we now know the truth. We know that the years really are gone in a heartbeat. We know from our own experience that, even though it doesn’t seem like it at the time, these exhausting days will end one day quite soon. We know that because the sons and daughters we poured our hearts and strength—our very lives—into just yesterday are now adults. In short, we understand as we never did before that the years we get with our children in our home are very short indeed.
…the days that make up those years are often very long. They’re draining—overwhelming—and there are no coffee breaks, 5:00 whistles, weekends, or vacations. Each day is filled with crying babies, temper tantrums, sibling fights, countless hours of training and discipline, endless snacks and meals, mountains of laundry, with barely ever a moment to yourself.
Do you remember those days, older mom? Do you remember longing to go to the store without having to drag all your little ones with you? Do you remember what it felt like to yearn for a few quiet moments with a book and a cup of coffee (without having to get up at 4:00 a.m. to catch that quiet moment)? Do you remember wanting to have an uninterrupted conversation with a friend? Do you remember feeling like you were going to crash if you didn’t have a bit of downtime?
Because that is truth too. While the years fly by, the days often do not. The days are long, utterly exhausting, oftentimes lonely, and the momma of infants and toddlers yearns for a bit of practical help. And that is where we older women can come in. If you are an empty-nester—or even if you still have teens in your home—chances are, you have more time on your hands than you did in years past. What are you doing with that time? Could you give an hour or two to a young mom? Maybe you can go over and play with her kids for awhile, so she can go to the store by herself or take a bubble bath in peace, or spend some time with a friend. Even a couple hours alone can help her to recharge, and in the process of helping her out, you are living out the admonition in Titus 2, where older women are called to pour into the lives of younger women.
Would you consider asking God to show you a young mom you can encourage and support? That’s a prayer He is sure to answer in the affirmative!
Patti Gardner lives in beautiful southwest Idaho, where she and her husband, Gary, are members of All Saints Presbyterian Church in Boise. In addition to serving on the women’s ministry team, Patti is also part of the All Saints’ greeting committee and a children’s Sunday School teacher. She and her family have a heart for hospitality and enjoy inviting folks to share a meal around their table. Mom to 2, mom-in-law to 1, and momma to 2 sweet beagles, Patti’s hobbies are genealogy, reading, and watching black and white movies.