There is nothing a young mom, deep in the trenches of young parenthood, wants to hear less than, “It goes so fast” Of course these more experienced moms probably want to shake the younger generation of moms and yell, “IT WENT SO FAST! WAKE UP!” as we move through our world in a yoga-pants-wearing-zombie-like state. But, the truth is, that’s not even close to what we want to hear. But, that doesn’t mean we don’t want to hear anything. I recognize that you have experience that I don’t. And, in some ways, I want to shake you and say, “TELL ME!! It gets better, right? RIGHT??”
But, I’ve realized that every mom has to come to her own realizations about how fabulous parenthood is. How blessed she is. How amazing raising kids is. Because even when it sucks, it really is amazing. But, every mom has to realize this…
On. Her. Own.
Because, I have realized, that there is nothing I could say, or anyone else could say that has enough power to teach the lessons that every mother needs to learn by just going through it.
So, I’m willing myself to be that old lady that remembers with a clear perspective. And, remembers that while it was oh so beautiful, it was also oh so damn hard.
Tell me, empty nesters, to look forward, but don’t tell me how to do it.
I might just be that young mom that stares into the eyes of a more experienced mom begging her to say something encouraging when my 2 year old is screaming in the parking lot because I didn’t let him buckle himself in. Tell me with encouragement, or tell me with a hug. I’m fine with either.
Maybe, as an empty nester, it’s hard to know what to do. Because the moms with little kids? Well, we can be sensitive. Very. So, here’s my advice to those well-meaning “experienced” moms that just want to shake me when they see me frazzled in the grocery store, not exactly appreciating every moment.
Here are 5 Things Empty Nesters Should Say to Parents of Little Kids
1. Say Nothing. While I know it seems like not much help to say nothing, sometimes that is just best. I know there are days where if anyone had said something even sweet, light-hearted, or joking to me on one of those I-want-to-run-away-and-live-on-a-deserted-island-and-have-a-volleyball-for-a-best-friend days, I might have not been so nice back. Instead, a kind smile, a nod, or even some sympathetic eyes can go a LONG way to healing a new mama’s heart in a bad moment.
2. You’re Doing an Awesome Job. Every parent is getting something right. Promise. Trust that the new mom who looks like her child is straight up lacking in discipline is probably doing a hundred things right at home that you can’t see. Instead of advice, simply tell her she’s doing a great job.
3. It Gets Easier. Now, this one, you have to tread lightly because…well, hormones. And, sleep deprivation. And, three year olds. But, letting a mom know that it will get better, without elaborating too much, can keep that new mama from losing it. Say something simple like, “Oh sweetie, I know how hard it is. I’ve been there. But, just keep doing what you’re doing. I promise it gets easier.” It will be really tempting to throw in there that “enjoy every moment” sentiment too, but don’t. Just give her a light at the end of the tunnel and leave that happiness and hope lingering in the air.
4. Can I help? Most moms will probably decline this sweet offer, and that’s OK. Don’t come off as the creepy person that’s going to snatch the baby, though. Instead, offer to pay for her groceries, or push her cart out to her car, or maybe make faces at the screaming baby while she is checking out to make that kid be quiet. Even if she says no, an offer of help can go a LONG way.
5. Share solidarity. I would love it, if just once, an older lady would put her hand over her heart and say, “There was this one time…” and share a story about their own rotten kids and the time they almost lost it in the grocery store. Don’t go into a 20 minute monologue. Nobody has time for that. But, instead, share a funny story about the day your kid shattered a giant jar of pickles in the checkout line or the time you lost your kid in IKEA. Even if that mom looks like a deer caught in the headlights, because you’re sharing your own bad day, you will make that mom feel better about whatever she might be going through.
You, my dear, experienced empty nester moms, might be the only adult interaction that younger mom has that day. Use it wisely. And, as a young mom myself, I promise I’ll try to be a little less sensitive, too.
Kelly L McKenzie says
Absolutely brilliant. Am sharing. And yes, there was this one time that my 4 year old daughter, bored out of her mind with shoe shopping in Honolulu, upended herself and started waving her legs in the air – bicycle peddling style. Dress falling down over her head. She’d neglected to put on underwear. Starkers underneath. Shortest shoe shopping trip ever.
haha! That’s AWESOME. And, Kelly, I have to say your comments always seem to follow these guidelines, so I’m sure you’re a great example of this in real life too. 🙂
Oh I love it!!! Right not I am in the middle of chaos , every day…or so it seems! And while I know that one day I will miss this chaos, right now it’s rough! Lol. I love it! But it’s rough 😉 Great post x
Awh great post! Love it! Right now I am in the middle of chaos, every single day. And while I know that one day I will miss this chaos, right now it is tough. I love it. Lol. But it is tough! If someone were to just give me a wee knowing smile one day, well that would just make me smile right back!
It is SO tough. I’m in the chaos too. Just feel like after 8 years, I’m FINALLY gaining perspective as a mom. 🙂
Lisa @ The Golden Spoons says
This is great!! So true!! I am not an empty nester, but I have found myself to be one of the “more experienced” moms in some groups lately. I am trying to say the things that the younger moms really want and need to hear – not the fluff. Love this!
Susanne/The Dusty Parachute says
I especially love #2. I always love it when a nice old lady comes up when we’re at dinner and tells me how wonderfully our kids behaved during dinner (more a statement on them, but me, but I’ll take it.)
Yes, exactly! There are a few, um, “older ladies” on my FB feed who are always posting articles about how fast childhood goes, kids will be grown before we know it, we need to enjoy every minute, etc etc. While I have no doubt that in retrospect it DOES go fast (sometimes I can hardly believe my oldest is almost 8) – come on – parenting can be hard (and amazing), and some days just suck. Nobody is enjoying every single minute. And feeling like we need to with constant reminders of how they’ll be off to college in no time just exacerbates the guilt we might feel when we’re having a rough day.
I totally agree!! We have enough guilt as it is!
Chris Carter says
YES YES YES!!!! I totally agree, Meredith! Those are perfect tips… If I had a penny for every time I felt defeated by parents of older kids, I would be a wealthy woman.
Sarah @ Thank You Honey says
So true! Totally agree!
Very true! I think everyone should just appreciate moms and tell them they’re doing and awesome job, instead of making them feel worse. And, love the new look of your blog 🙂
Kristi Campbell says
So true so true so true! When people tell me to treasure the moments – I KNOW! But some days, it’s 2pm and I don’t know how to fill the next six hours!! But, you know, I see it from the other side too. My one and only son is already five and there are days when I so so miss little tiny him… so a good reminder for me on that end of it too!
It REALLY goes by fast. For me too. Despite being in the thick of it still for several more years to come…
Such great advice! While I’m almost an empty nester I remember like it was yesterday the produce manager watching me struggle with 2 toddlers and saying “You’re doing a great job Mom”. I really needed just those words and thought back to them more than once!
Thanks for the great insight!
I have a ten year old which sometimes makes me think I have it together, then my 3yo does something really crazy that pushes me off my pedestal. Am I gonna miss all these when they’re older? Nah, I will laugh remembering the crazy days and cry over the sucky ones but I will not miss wiping poop off my couch! LOL
Carin Kilby Clark says
This is an awesome post… I’m not an empty nester yet – but as the mom of a teen, tween, and almost tween whenever I see moms with younger kids amidst a meltdown I don’t hesitate to step in and offer a shoulder… we’ve ALL been there! No judgment, just the sisterhood of motherhood. <3
Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. says
I. Love. This. Couldn’t agree more. Loved Glennon’s post, too– one of my all-time favorites. Maybe my actual FAVORITE blog post ever. Great wisdom here, my friend!
I am lucky to get to be both the experienced mom because I have a 17 year old and the mom of young kids because I also have a 2-year-old. l spend a lot of time around moms who are just starting out since I still take my littlest to playgroup. Let me tell you, I have STORIES! I usually go with number 5 and number 4 when my own toddler isn’t being ridiculous. And I am not gonna lie. It doesn’t get easier, it just gets a different kind of hard. I wrote a post that addresses this topic at the end that I think will give you a good laugh. http://sosomom.com/just-for-fun/motherhood-then-and-now
Thanks for sharing! I’ll check it out!