When I was a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) with five little boys, I yearned for an older woman to talk to—someone who had walked the path ahead of me. I had a close relationship with both my mother and mother-in-law, but sometimes I needed a neutral voice to speak to my concerns. My husband and I were only children, so the chaos of rearing five children under age 10 was new to them as well as to me.
I never did find that perfect mentor. I read a few books which proved to be very helpful and opened my eyes to some things but for the most part, my learning resulted from on-the-job-training.
Women today have a plethora of resources, but mothers often experience a feeling of aloneness. It doesn’t simply go away by reading a blog or listening to a podcast. What moms need is another woman who has walked the path to come alongside them and be their needed coach/encourager.
So the question is, how does a young mother find that elusive older woman?
Sometimes it seems hard to connect with the right person, especially if you’re living in a new area. Where do you look? How do you start a relationship, especially when you might not know a ton of people? These suggestions might help.
Find a Mothers’ Group in your area.
Organizations such as Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPs) have been in existence for a number of years, and are a wonderful place to meet other mothers. In my own MOPs group, there is more emphasis lately on finding older women to connect as mentors with younger moms. In the first meeting of our local chapter, there were several older moms who were there for that purpose!
Begin with the obvious: Find someone you like.
We are naturally drawn to certain temperaments and personalities. Find a person you look forward to being with.
Make sure her family life is one you’d like to emulate.
Does her relationship with her family members exemplify love, honor, respect—in short, do you want to be where she is when you reach her age?
Seek someone who has had real-life experience.
Naturally, moms seek answers and validation from other mothers. The problem is, they are usually in the same season of life, and this can result in comparing themselves to one another. Sharing “mom-hacks” and other tips might be good, but hearing from someone who has proven herself in real life is essential.
Find a mother who will be honest with you.
You’re not looking for someone who simply commiserates with you. You want someone who is willing to point out blind spots for you and is willing to speak the truth in love. Allow her to do that.
Don’t hesitate to ask her to meet with you.
In the old days, young women probably bonded with the older generation as they stitched quilts or shelled peas. Motherhood is inherently lonely—a fact a woman doesn’t realize until she becomes a mother. Ironically, when our children grow up and leave the nest, a different kind of loneliness can set in. Connecting women in these two seasons can be life-giving for both generations.
Realize you might meet a need for her, as well.
To reiterate the previous point: sometimes a “retired” mother might feel she has served, worked, loved, and sacrificed all those years and is full of good advice, but nobody cares. You might do her a great favor by asking her to share her wisdom with you.
Enjoy the relationship!
It will likely last for years to come. Next, to rearing my own family, my personal experience as a mentor to young mothers has been my most fulfilling role. The years slipped by quickly and now I’m still in touch with some of the younger mothers who now have grown children of their own, and they, in turn, are reaching out to those coming behind them.
Maya Angelou expressed it best when she said…
Some of the things I know, I know only because older women have told me their secrets.
I have lived and am living long so that I can tell my secrets to younger women.
That’s the reason we women go on improving.
A note about the author:
Careen Strange is the