I was pulling out of a parking space, when she caught my eye.
Her tired frown told the story. Kids packed tight in her minivan. Groceries loaded. With shoulders slumped, she pushed the cart to the side of the vehicle. Her shoulders sagged and her face cast toward the ground.
She wore exhaustion like jeans a smidge too tight or threadbare sweats worn from over-wear.
It was just a glimpse—as snapshot of her life. But still a story I knew well.
You know it, too.
Because we’re over-worn and filled to the brim with worry and noise.
I wanted to reach out, take both of her shoulders, look straight into her worn-out eyes and tell her—I see you.
Because I did. I saw her tired. I saw her stress. I saw her story. Because, Momma? I’m her story. You’re her story, too. We write the collective narrative of motherhood. And it’s everything we ever wanted and everything we never did.
We see each other, or at least we should.
Can we spend some time just seeing? Some moments remembering we are never, ever alone?
We see you, Momma, on the days you never once take a breath and you work and work and work and yet your house resembles Mother Nature’s worst.
We see you beside the hospital bed, clutching hope with white-tight knuckles. In the middle of the night when a slumber party ends in missing momma. In the doctor’s office certain something is wrong, but no one will listen. After all—You’re just the mom.
We see you fighting for the accommodations you know your son needs. Or watching your littlest walk into the school—without you. And he’s your last. Or spending hours on Khan Academy just so you can help your girl have a chance in math this year.
We see you making lunches. And washing that soccer shirt you found stuffed in a duffle bag the night before the big game. And checking take-home folders. And chewing your lip raw as you wonder if those SAT scores will ever be what he needs for his dream college. And is college even the right choice for her?
We see you when your teen suddenly withdraws—silent and no longer full of the day’s stories. When the list for the basketball team appears and your son’s name is missing. Or when the part she’s practiced for months goes to another. Or when summer dreams are crushed because a bone broke.
We see you.
We see you wondering if you will ever get it right. (You will.) Wondering if your kids will ever stop fighting and just be kind. Wondering if you are just an enforcer or a life-changer. Because you really, really want to be a life-changer.
We see you questioning every action you take. Are you doing enough? Are you scarring them for life? Are you present? Are you invested enough? Are you making a difference? Are you who they need you to be? Are you doing anything right?
We see you. Because we ask the same questions. They often go unanswered for us, too.
And because we ask the same questions, fear the same fears, we need to spend more time seeing. Seeing our momma-sisters in the same trenches, fighting the same battles.
We need each other.
Say those words again. With me. Maybe whisper them, under your breath.
We needeach other.
Say it again. Louder. Collectively.
We. Need. Each. Other.
We need encouragement.
The word encourage is stunning and complex. From the French, it literally means “to put courage into.” If one goes back further? To the Greek? The word translates parakaleo, meaning “to call to one’s side, call for, summon.”
Let those meanings steep just for a bit.
Encourage doesn’t mean we pat each other gently on the back with some light cheerful words.
No. Encourage is so. much. more.
Scripture teaches us to encourage each other and build each other up, just as we are already doing.Encourage is a call. It is a call for us to stand beside—to put courage intoeach other.
This is more than cheering from the sidelines. More than a one-and-done text of solidarity. More than a blog post.
To encourage each other means getting dirty. It means digging in the trenches beside our momma-sisters. It means to pour into. You have to move close to pour.It means a commitment to see each other. Again and again and again. Over and over and over.
It’s a ride-or-die kind of fervor that should drive us to pound courage into each other.
Because motherhood is a sacred calling. Failure is not an option—little lives are the territory we are fighting for. We fight against the tide of culture. We fight against the darkness ready to extinguish their lights. We cannot fail.
And we can’t do it alone.
When last did you stand by another mom? Hunched in prayer, knee deep in the muck of her pain? It’s exhausting. I know. I know because I so often get it wrong. I sometimes see an island of a momma and think about how difficult it will be for me to get to her—to bring her a lifeline of hope and courage.
But we can’t let the hard work of standing with one another scare us off. The prize is worth the weariness, the good-tired. Our children and their tiny souls are worth the struggle to encourage.
It’s not easy. I know.
But. The choice not to stand with each other? It costs too much.
We must see each other. See the battles. And willingly take up arms beside the mommas in our circle. Then we must widen our circle. Despite how difficult and exhausting it may be.
This. This is what it means to encourage one another.
We see you, Momma.
We are the courage pounders.
We’re coming to pound some courage into your heart.
We’re coming to your side.
We refuse to let you stand alone.