Thursday, January 22, 2009

Becoming an "Older Woman"

Titus 2: 3 - 4 "The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior...that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children..."

I'm not that old. I'm still on the friendly side of 40. But I have been a mom for awhile. However, I have never felt like I had much to offer to younger moms because it seems like I started over with each child. Each had such a distinctive personality and different needs that the knowledge I gained with the brother before him didn't seem to have much application to the new one. But a few weeks ago I had an experience that really touched me and made me feel that perhaps I do have something to offer now, gained through my 14+ years of parenting.

A couple of times a month I work in a local MOPS group. MOPS is a wonderful organization. It was started sometime in the 1970s by a woman named Elisa Morgan. The purpose was to bring together moms with young children, let them have a place of commonality and teach them Biblical mothering and marriage skills. I began attending when Will was 2 and Ben was a newborn. The group was an absolute sanity saver for me. During those early months of Ben's life I was on auto-pilot, trying to care for his many needs, while grieving the loss of the baby I thought I was going to have. I was active in MOPS for a number of years, rarely missing meetings. I eventually rose to a couple of leadership positions within the group and I'm still using the skills I learned from that. So when the opportunity to work in a local MOPS group arose this past year, I jumped at the chance. Plus, they're paying me $40 a month to do so, which definitely sweetens my incentive for helping!

A few weeks ago one of the moms dropped off her 3 year old, Timmy (yes, I changed his name - no use getting people mad at me if I can avoid it). Timmy was NOT happy that Mom was leaving him. He screamed and hollered, hanging onto her pant leg. She pried him off and made a mad dash for the door. We didn't know what to do with him (by "we" I am referring also to my 18 year old home schooled helper. He says he's 18, anyway. To me, he looks like he could be a 30 year old linebacker. I bet he started shaving when he was 8. But, I digress...) so we sat him down on a chair. Timmy just got angrier and angrier. His little fists were clenched and he literally shook and turned purple in the face. It was clear to me that this was temper and I figured the best thing to do was to ignore it. Well, this went on for a good hour and eventually Timmy's mom came to check on him. That wasn't such a good move and I inwardly groaned when she stepped into the room. She was appalled at how horribly her son was behaving and removed him from the room. I could hear her making all sorts of promises to little Timmy if he'd only behave himself. About this time I had to leave the room for a few minutes. When I came back, Timmy's mother had Timmy in another room, while she tried to hold the door shut against his 3 year old fury. I'm not quite sure what she was trying to accomplish there. She probably didn't either at that point. As I drew closer I could see she was crying. "I don't know what to do!" she sobbed out loud.

I don't think I had ever been in this kind of position before - one where I could offer assistance because of previous experience. I drew close to her and I told her, "I have been there and it will be ok." I told her how when I used to attend MOPS, Ben would start wailing when I turned onto a certain street that led us to the church. He wouldn't stop until after I had deposited him in the nursery and walked away. I would hurry down that hallway, his shrieks echoing after me, thinking I was the worst, most selfish mom in the world, to force him into that nursery just so I could do something for myself. But I needed to be there. I needed the fellowship of the other moms and the teaching I would get every week. And that's what I told this mom. I said, "I will take care of Timmy. You go. You need to be here at MOPS." After a little more persuasion, Timmy's mom went back to class and I carried Timmy into my 3 year old room. And in time, he did eventually get over his tantrum and was very pleasant for rest of the morning.

I left MOPS that day feeling so good. It was a reminder to me that God doesn't waste a hurt or a single experience he allows into our lives. I may still be young,age-wise(or at least be able to delude myself into believing so for awhile longer!) but I do have some life experiences now that I can use to encourage and lift up others with. And it's something I find myself looking forward to being able to do even more with the passage of time.


  1. sounds like God has provided you a great way to minister to others!

  2. It is awesome how God can use the simple lessons in life to help us minister to someone else. That mom really needed you and God used you in a mighty way. A similar thing happened in church one day for me, except for the fact that this mom went running out of church when the nursery staff had come to get her. God was tugging (pulling perhaps) at my heart to get up and go after her. She was at her wits end with her little one for his misbehavior (biting was his MO) and was going to leave the church and never return because of her shame. We were able to talk it over, cry it out, share a few good laughs, defuse the situation and she and I have never forgotten that time together many years later. Her little guy is still a challenge but she knows she doesn't have to run and hide anymore.

  3. Sarah, I applaud your patience. I sometimes hear children screaming or throwing a tantrum in the store and think, "Man, that mother needs to take that child home and quit dragging him/her all over shopping." I usually chalk it up to the child is tired and cranky and probably missed a nap. Sometimes, you can tell if it is a temper tantrum, though.

    What advice would you give to someone whose child is throwing a tantrum in public. Let me note here that Derek never did that. He knew if I said no, then that was what I meant and no amount of crying or temper would persuade me otherwise. =)