The Encouragement that Moms of Littles Need

Hey moms. These days are hard, I know.

You need some encouragement. An uplifting word. Something to carry you through. I have lots of that for you today, from moms who have been in your shoes.

But first, let’s pray together a quick meditation on the storms of life you’re going through.

Jesus Calms the Storm

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a storm of wind came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even wind and water, and they obey him?”

Luke 8:22-25 RSVCE from Bible Gateway

Imagine yourself at the seashore on a bright sunny day.

Breathe in and smell the salty air. Feel the breeze cool your skin as it drifts off the waves.

As you shade your eyes and look out at the sparkling blue expanse, you see a boat in the shallow, ready to be boarded. When you turn to your left, you see Jesus there, standing next to you in the sand, with a smile on his face.

He invites you to step into the boat and cross the water with him.

With great trust and a heart filled with joy at his invitation, you follow him. You embark on this journey – a new adventure.

As you are sailing, Jesus seems more and more quiet. Distant, even.

Then, eventually, he falls asleep.

As he sleeps, the sky darkens. Ominous gray clouds roll in, and the wind picks up until it’s whipping your hair across your face.

Rain pelts down, soaking you to the bone. Crashing waves wash over the sides of the boat, filling it with water, and knocking you off your feet.

Feel your fear and anxiety. You are in danger of sinking. Of drowning. You don’t see any way out of this disaster.

How could Jesus sleep at a time like this?

Why isn’t he there for you?

The Storms of Motherhood

The sea is your life. The boat is your particular vocation as wife and mom.

On your wedding day – a day filled with spiritual sunshine and fair weather, a day of light and joy – Jesus called you to step into the boat and journey through this life with him by your side.

He called you on a grand adventure.

Then, slowly, the sunny skies turned gray one cloud at a time. The reality of life set in.

The duties and challenges of your role as a wife and mom beset you from all sides.

  • the sleepless nights,
  • endless piles of laundry and dishes,
  • countless demands of the little people in your life,
  • and worries as numerous as the stars.

At times, the fear and anxiety pelt you like rain, wash over you like waves. You’re on the verge of sinking. Of drowning.

You may wonder where Jesus is at a time like this.

Why isn’t he there for you? Why doesn’t he make everything better? How could he abandon you right now?

Dear tired Mom, he has not abandoned you. He is here, in the boat with you. He is present in every moment of your vocation.

Even though Jesus may seem to be asleep, he is always aware of you and conscious of your prayers. You are constantly on his mind and in his heart.

He who was there at the Creation of the world, he can calm the storms of the sea and the storms of your life – even in his sleep.

But wake him up if you have to!

The disciples cried out in fear, “Master, we are perishing!”

You can cry out to him too, today. Tell him you are in fear of drowning. Tell him you are suffocating. Sinking.

Tell him this vocation of marriage and motherhood is more difficult than you thought. You’re having a hard time holding it all together. You don’t see how you can make it through.

Invite him to make his presence known to you. Ask him to calm the storms of your life, even if only for a little while.

Lean on him, trust in him. He will not let you drown.

Have faith in him.

This storm will pass, and the sunny days will come again.

6 Kinds of Encouragement that Moms of Littles Need

Enjoy this advice from Catholic moms across the internet to help you through these difficult days.

As you read through, keep in mind that every woman needs to be encouraged differently.

Please take to heart the advice that help you see the sunshine peeking through into your life, and scroll past the advice that isn’t right for you.

1. It Gets Better

Maybe you need to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. That the overwhelm you’re feeling right now doesn’t last forever. That it does, in fact, get better.

Here is a testimony from Lisa, a friend of mine who’s not afraid to admit: She doesn’t miss the toddler days!

When I see how much my children struggle with their toddlers… I don’t miss those days! I was also working graveyard shift and homeschooling …and nursing. Those days are a Blurrr to me. YES…IT. GETS. BETTER

– Lisa, from Facebook

Helen would like you to know it does get better. And while these may not be the days you’re going to miss, there will be a stage that you will miss someday!

It definitely gets better! I had great difficulties with the newborn/toddler years, but am really enjoying these years (14 and almost 11 year olds). I love the conversations we have, the activities/travel we can do together, and watching my kids’ personalities and talents develop. I have a feeling these will be the years that I will miss.

– Helen from Facebook

Here is some encouragement from Becky, a mom with teens and toddlers.

I still have 2 toddlers but I also have 3 teens and I don’t miss those days when I had just littles. It was hard then and oh so very lonely. I can tell you it does get easier if you put in the hard work of raising them to be independent and helpful. I read somewhere a long time ago that kids need purpose and they need to be needed in the family. So if you let them help and put in the effort to teach them how to do things as well as they can and with love, then as they grow you have a team that works together to make your family thrive not just survive. Then that glorious day will arrive when you will have a teen who can babysit while you go to the grocery store alone, and oh the joy of dating your husband again! We can enjoy our littles all the more, and we are all a team that works, plays and prays together.

– Becky from Facebook

Charlene is a mom and grandma of many. She wants to let you know that you’ll remember the good stuff, and the difficulties will fade in your memory. She asserts that it gets better!

I am the mom of 4, ages 18-43. I am grandma to 4, ages 3-6. I used to tell people it gets different. The joys and struggles, happys and sads – all different. My best trick was to hang my favorite baby/toddler pictures around my home..I refer to that as my “surviving the teens” coping method.  Fact is, it gets better. You’ll miss the things you enjoyed, you’ll forget the exhaustion and frustration. And when they’re adults with littles of their own, the old memories become even sweeter and new memories are created.

– Charlene, from Facebook

2. You’re Going to Miss These Days

Do you need the reminder that there is beauty in these days alongside the difficulty? Maybe you need someone to remind you to think about how you will feel when looking back.

Even though I may not have wanted to hear this advice, I think it was the advice I needed most. Melody from The Essential Mother shares that she got caught up in lamenting the difficulty of the younger years and missed out on a lot of the joy.

Her advice reminds us that we may, in fact, miss these days. I am thankful for her beautiful words.

Mothers miss those days because the memories help us recall the beautiful truth about our children… their innocence, kindness, joy, and brilliance. It doesn’t mean those days weren’t hard, just that we have passed through into wisdom that illuminates what we couldn’t see while we were in the middle of them… and what we can’t always see in our older kids when they are stretching and struggling.

It isn’t necessarily harder to have teens, but it is different. The difficulties change and deepen. And the cross is no longer about keeping your child from falling into the pond or tying their shoes 100 times, but from falling into a lifestyle of sin and keeping them safe from a predatory, callous world.

The little ones keep us up with their bad dreams, hunger, fevers, and potty training mishaps. The big ones keep us up waiting for them to come home, dealing with drama late into the night, and praying on our knees for grace to be stronger than the pull of the world.

We miss the early years (even the particular sufferings) because even though it was hard, it was simpler. I am a better mother during the little years. I am really good at hugging, reading books out loud, and managing little emotions and fevers. I have far less skill and control over what is happening in the lives of the older ones.

One great tragedy of my motherhood is that I spent so much time lamenting the difficulty during the early years that I missed much of the joy. I corrected that with the later kids! I also spend time intentionally looking at our old family pictures, remembering the entire spectrum of the older kids’ lives… and keeping the early years present in my mind so that I am softer and happier when I see them on the rough days as teens.

– Melody, the Essential Mother

Here is some advice from Jessica who admits while you don’t have to enjoy every tough moment of parenting, take some time to savor the good things.

We spend a lot of time hoping things get easier and “better”. But I don’t think it’s designed like that. I think every season will have it’s struggles and every parent has their own sets of strengths, weaknesses, frustrations, pet peeves, etc. Some of us will enjoy newborns more because of that, some preschoolers, some the 7-12 range, and some teenagers. The takeaway from “you’re going to miss this” isn’t that you have to enjoy the hardest days of wrangling littles….but can anyone say they won’t miss the way we can do no wrong in the eyes of our 3 yr old? Or the smell of a baby fresh out of the bath? The look of excitement over the littlest of things on a 5 yr old’s face? There is plenty we won’t miss. I’ll happily say goodbye to spit up and mountains of laundry today and never look back….but “you’re going to miss this”, in my opinion, is a gentle reminder to take a moment even in those bad days to savor all that’s beautiful about whatever stage you’re in now-because it won’t be like this forever (and that’s not a bad thing, just how it is). Around the corner are new moments we’ll forever miss when they’re gone. Parenthood is such a complex journey….I truly don’t think it can be broken down to “this is the best age/season”.

– Jessica, from Facebook

3. Every Stage is Different

Maybe you need the reminder that every stage of childhood is different. You might enjoy one age more than another. You might need to find new ways to enjoy the age your children are right now.

Here is some advice from Ginny of Not So Formulaic, encouraging you to find ways to enjoy who your kids are right now, before they will be grown and flown!

I have a foot in both worlds. My oldest will be 13 in December and my little one is 4. Both stages have their joys and challenges. There are things I am learning to love about both and things I’m ready to be done with. I just try to roll with the punches and know that nothing stays the same. Six more years and my oldest will be out of here. Kind of hard to believe.

– Ginny, Not So Formulaic

Deanna of Every Day Catholic reminds us that the only constant is change.

So I’m now a grandmother, yikes, of 2 sweet boys, one from each of my children. Here’s what I can tell you, when they are little, you fix their problems with a kiss and a bandaid and a cuddle. As they grow up, they need more, but you’ve grown up too so you can give it to them. When they are teens, it is different, they have many thoughts and opinions, some of which you may not like. We found being involved, but not hovering, is a big help. So we drove, were band parents, coached, whatever they needed us for but never made major decisions for them, we did that together. Now they are adults and parents, and it is amazing to watch this happen. Our son, after being a dad for a month, comes into our house says, “Mom, thank you”, I asked for what? He said, “all of this” as he gestured to his little boy. He has no idea what comes next, but that’s okay. As they grew, I kept reminding myself that the only constant was change.

= Deanna, Every Day Catholic

Here is some advice from Susan, a mom whose children have flown the nest.

It doesn’t get better or worse. It gets different. Your children are many people. You will miss dd’s three year old self while wondering how you ever got through the day without the joy of knowing her 16 year old version. The same is true for the difficulties. Bottom line…two of mine are no longer in my life…living their own lives in other states. Soak it up like a sponge while you can.

– Susan, Catholic Illustrator

Here is some encouragement from Christie, a mom and teacher who says that it’s okay to respond differently to the various stages of childhood.

You find that certain personality types do best (not better just “best”) relating with different age groups. I initially thought I wanted to teach adults, then high school, but then I taught third graders and felt at home with their shenanigans. I loved it. Truth be told I wound up teaching at my best with the middle school range when I had my chance. Now, I taught from 1st to 8th grade with dabbling at teaching preschool, high school, and adults. I can do it effectively no matter what the age, but I am more easy and the job feels less like work when I am teaching the fascinating, fascinated, joyous, stubborn, funny, exasperating humanity at the junior high age ranges. And just like with teaching, I think I parent the same at all ages, but personally feel the hard parts much less at certain ages, too. I love teaching. I love parenting. It is hard work, sure, but there’s nothing better.

– Christie, from Facebook

These thoughts from Jodi encourage you to find something to love about every stage, calling each one “the best and the hardest.”

Every stage is the best stage and the hardest. Every stage has something to love, and to appreciate, and every stage has a difficult cross. My teens are amazing, for their well developed personalities, sense of humor, ability to have deep and meaningful conversations, and be a help to the whole household. Younger children are the best because of their ability to love without reservation, snuggle, and enjoy life exactly as it is.

– Jodi, from Facebook

4. You Will Reap the Rewards of Your Hard Work

The work you do right now might seem futile, as you remind your littles of the family rules for the tenth time, correct their misbehaviors for the hundredth time, answer the same question for the thousands time.

But these moms want to remind you: your hard work will pay off. You will reap the rewards of these difficult days.

Becky, from Catholic-Link, says that she rejoices in watching her pre-teens begin to use all the skills she was worked so hard to teach them over the years.

One thing I love about being a mom to pre-teens is watching them use the skills you have worked so hard to teach them. You watch them start to conquer their own battles. It’s amazing to hear them say “let’s take a minute and pray about this” or watch them take deep breaths to calm themselves down or to see them make a really hard (unpopular) choice because it’s the right thing to do.

– Becky, Catholic-Link

Here is a testimony from Patty, a friend of mine, about the joy of seeing your children embrace what you’ve worked so hard to teach them.

I don’t have littles anymore. I’m through with diapers for the first time in 16 years and am waiting on God’s will before I need anymore… but I’m enjoying watching my sweat equity pay off in my older kids. My teenage boys have empathy and compassion, and are strong in their Faith and well-reasoned in their apologetics. (I finally see the blessing of my husband’s philosophy major in the way he’s taught our sons to handle themselves.). My daughters are beautiful inside and out, not childish anymore, I’m starting to catch glimpses of the young women they will be. They are caring and compassionate and assist me as I approach middle age in things I don’t have the energy for anymore. I can tell you, it was never easy, raising children was never meant to be. But my enjoyment now comes from seeing it was all so worth it. All of it.

– Patty, from Facebook

5. Look at it From a Different Angle

Sometimes we need to remember to look at the big picture. To see our situation from a different angle.

Here is a reminder from Amy of Catholic Pilgrim about the dangers our teens will face, to encourage you to enjoy the simplicity of raising littles.

As a mom of teens, one getting ready to go off to college, it gets easier in some ways and harder in other ways. They become more independent so you aren’t *needed* constantly, but you have to prepare them for the world and that’s tough. You can’t slack off one bit because the world is ever ready to devour them. I have loved each stage and when I look back, those difficult, sleepless early years seem not so bad. 

– Amy, from Catholic Pilgrim

Here is some similar advice from Paola, who agrees with Amy’s words and builds on them.

It does get better as they get older. In different ways though. Different relationship. I have 2 adults and 2 teens. I would rather be in a room full of toddlers lol. Teens are hard because they can be selfish. I agree with Amy in that you must be ready with teens. The world really is coming after them . It can be heartbreaking at times because moms need to let go a bit especially once they are going to college. You have to let go ..so they can grow. Not as easy as it sounds lol. I miss the giggles of little ones and constant amazement of the world. I don’t miss the constant sickness. I don’t miss the early mornings or middle of the nights. I do miss the cuddles and holding their hands. I miss them solely depending on me. It goes way to fast. Enjoy them and make every moment count with them. Before you know they really will be off to their lives and you will wonder “where did the time go?” I wish they didn’t have to grow up. It does get easier for the most part …maybe it’s the heartache of rebellion that wears a parent out.

– Paola, from Facebook

Perhaps your children are dealing with something deeper, that is coming through with their difficult actions and behaviors.

Here is a reminder from Sis that sometimes there are underlying causes to the struggles of parenting.

When my daughter was a baby, she’s 28 now, she screamed everyday of her life and I literally mean screamed. There was nothing I could do to keep her happy. She wanted me and only me to hold her. I use to look up to the Heavens and ask Him to help me and I always told Him that the least He could have done was send an instruction manual with her. She was like that for years and argumentative and very stubborn in high school. Always went against the grain at school . If someone told her not to do something, you can bet she was going to do it. Nothing illegal (well once). She went to a Catholic school and loved to shock everybody there with her little antics. She was finally diagnosed with bad anxiety issues and went through a rough patch of depression. Now, she is my best friend. I can depend on her completely . Shes a great mom and wife. Still has anxiety issues, but i have learned how to talk her through them.

– Sis, from Facebook

Even if you miss the days with littles, maybe you still wouldn’t go back to them. Maria reflects on this distinction.

I think missing and wanting to go back are different! I wouldn’t go back to when our oldest was little, he’s 14 now, but I do miss it here and there and would certainly have changed some things if it were possible. I wouldn’t go back to when our two or three oldest were young, it’s hard when you don’t have helpers. I will miss having the current little ones (5+2+baby) so affectionate and lovey and trusting and honest and open and sweet and how they are seeing the world for the first time when it’s gone, you know? But I would neeeever wish for forever-babies or forever-toddlers! It’s significantly easier in one way as they get older, though the hard moments are also more complicated than they were for little ones.

– Maria, from Instagram

6. Look Forward to the Teen and Adult Years

If you need a “golden carrot” to hold out in front of you, helping you keep your head up as you power through the toddler and young elementary years, here is some encouragement about what you have to look forward to when your kids are grown!

Leslie from Life in Every Limb might miss the toddler days, but here are some things she loves about having adult kids.

I can’t say I don’t miss those days but there are things to enjoy about teens and adults for sure. My 28 year old daughter and I are friends. We have a lot in common and love doing things together. My oldest son lives three hours away and is married, but when he is bored driving around for work he calls me just to talk. It was so fun visiting my middle son at Notre Dame and now in San Francisco where he’s building a successful career. I have two teenagers still at home and they are smart and fun to talk to. They still need me—all of them do— but not every second and I can leave them alone for HOURS.

– Leslie, Life in Every Limb

Here’s some encouragement from Pat, a mom of three, now grandmother of two.

When some people hear “teen” they automatically think trouble, but that is not true. What I believe is that they need compassion, understanding and someone to listen with patience and mothering as teens. I have had great joy with my children, my students and grandchildren despite their imperfections.

– Pat, from Facebook

Here is a testimony Rachel gives to the beauty of raising teens.

I occasionally get sad for his younger years which slipped by so quickly but watching his heart and mind form is worth more than gold. It is humbling and he encourages me to be a better Catholic and person daily. Having older children is a totally new frontier as a parent and watching their minds start to come under the influence of hormones also a new experience- but navigating it all with grace allows for a lot of development as a family (and reliance on our Blessed Mother!!)

– Rachel from Facebook

One mom on Instagram finds it encouraging and rewarding to watch your kids grow into adults.

Just graduated our first born from college. We have another in college. Our oldest daughter who went to cosmetology school and is loving adulting. And then 3 in high school. No babies at home. There are moments that cause me to pause. The long days do roll into very short years. I would not go back. Most of the time. It’s rewarding and empowering to see your children grow and find their wings and discover where God is leading them.

– Anonymous mom, from Instagram

Michelle is beginning to reap the rewards of parenting older children, and is grateful for the ways that it has gotten easier.

Each age has its pros and cons. However, my kids are now 12, 10, and 8, and:

1) They don’t touch me as much. This is a good thing.
2) They can shower and use the bathroom independently. 
3) They can make their own breakfasts and take care of themselves on a Saturday morning. 

My favorite thing about my oldest, however, is that even though he has his pre-teen moments, every so often I can see the adult he is becoming peeking through, and I can see the benefits of the hard work that goes into parenting.

– Michelle, from Instagram

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great post

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