During a recent visit to the Omaha Zoo, I spotted this info board outside the gorilla exhibit and couldn’t help but make the connection to human motherhood as well. Indeed, my motherhood has been shaped and informed by watching seasoned (human!) mothers care for their young. I feel blessed to be friends with moms who’ve birthed several kids across a good fifteen to twenty years; they have a wealth of experience to share. Their gentle, “This is hard. I’ve been there, too. Let’s get together and talk,” invitations have lifted me through many parenting struggles.
Back in my career days, I had a mentor who met with me often. She and I actually befriended one another through a women’s group at church, so not only did we have our careers in common, we also shared a similar faith tradition. Sometimes our chats happened over a coffee date. Other times we made a jailbreak from our offices and met for lunch. Then there were the occasional let’s-skip-out-an-hour-early-and-enjoy-a-nice-libation-while-lounging-on-some-restaurant’s-patio type of get together. Those were fun!
My friend is fifteen years older than I, yet I never felt like she viewed herself as the seasoned professional and me the new kid on the block. She never threw around the “I’m older and wiser …” stuff. Given we both worked in male-dominated fields, she was a terrific sounding board and cheerleader. Her femininity was a breath of fresh air, a constant reminder that the board rooms and council chambers I sat in could greatly benefit from my womanly approach to problem solving. Our conversations were balanced, equal parts talking and listening. Advice given, advice received. I like to think that my friend received as much out of our talks as I. We even occasionally discussed how I just might be a good candidate to succeed her once she retired.
But those succession plans took a big detour when I was the first to “retire” and stay at home full-time with my babies. When I made that decision, our frequent mentoring meetings also retired. As I write those words, I realize just how much I miss those chats with my friend. Now that our chats are over, I miss growing from her wisdom. I miss our “professional” conversations.
My mind has wandered back to those days after listening to the IF:Gathering podcast on inter-generational relationships with Jennie Allen and Debbie Eaton. “At the very core, we all want to be known, we all want to be accepted, we all want to be valued, we all want to know we matter,” was a key takeaway from the podcast. My mentor and I were blessed with the very kind of inter-generational relationship discussed on that podcast. Since leaving the workforce, however, I’ve noticed that mentoring relationships for at-home moms aren’t as organic, formal, and naturally occurring as they were in the professional world. I agree with the opinions shared on the podcast that women are indeed craving mentoring relationships.
So what’s the point of all this? Honestly, I’m not quite sure (brilliant, Schmidt, brilliant!). I’m tossing around some thoughts and I’d like to hear about your experiences with faith-based mentoring, especially for the at-home moms in the crowd.
Do you have a motherhood mentor? Conversely, are you a mentor to a younger mom? How did your relationship begin? How has the relationship benefited your life?