As a woman, you are a rockstar whether you are a biological mother or not. If you haven’t given birth to a child you may feel a bit left out because this Sunday, it’s all about mothers.
You can, though, be a mom without giving birth or even adopting a child.
Our biological mothers are awesome, there’s no denying that. None of us would be here without having one at least to begin our lives.
Beyond giving life, mothers comfort us when we feel alone, tired or just mad at the world. They nurture us by helping us grow emotionally and spiritually. And they teach us what we need to know to survive.
What if, for some reason, our mother didn’t or couldn’t aid us in one of these three key areas? What happens then? Who fills in? How do we get these needs met?
Most mothers don’t do well in all three areas all the time. That’s where other women come in to play. They can be foster moms or those who take us in for a short time because of difficulties in our family. Or they can be a neighbor or Sunday School teacher.
There are just times you need a mom who looks and sounds different. I have been privileged to have many stand-in moms in my life.
My moms have all looked different. One looked like my Grandma, another like my step great grandma. Others looked like the woman down the street with long white hair and her next-door neighbor who was younger than my mother.
Another played the organ at church. She didn’t have any children so I was her daughter for the mother-daughter banquet. Still another looked like the janitor at school who became my mother for mother-daughter teas.
Another looked a lot like my second-grade teacher who asked that I bring her my report card every year so she could see how great I was doing. Another was my junior high Sunday School teacher who taught me about Paul. Others were mothers of friends who allowed me to stay with their daughters as often as I liked.
Some women don’t even know they are pinch-hitting as a mom. Others do. There are even men who become stand-in moms by necessity and do a great job.
I have two awesome biological children and have had 10 foster children in my home. For many years, I have been privileged to be a stand-in mom to developmentally challenged teens and young adults. All of them have mothers and most of the time their mothers have been in their lives to some degree.
However, on a daily basis, there are reasons the moms can’t live with them. Sometimes it is because of medical or psychological issues. Other times it is because of difficulties early in the child’s life.
As a stand-in Mom I’ve learned I am not the mom, but I can be a woman who loves and cares for this child. Whether it is through adoption, foster parenting, being a teacher, next-door neighbor or friend at church, you can also. In Psalms 68:6 it says God “places the lonely in families.”
By caring for a child, whether it is your child or someone else’s, if you can make loneliness go away for even a short period of time, you have ministered out of the very heart of God.
Here are some ways you can be a stand-in Mom for a child. This is not an all-inclusive list by a long shot. As you read, I’m sure you will think of other things stand-in moms have done for you or you have done for another child.
1. Tell me I’m beautiful or handsome. We all are in our own way.
2. Tell me I can do anything I set my heart and mind to. We all have the capacity to achieve.
3. Encourage me to dream big. Help me achieve small dreams, as well.
4. Compliment my efforts. Tell me how important it is to try, even if I fail.
5. Give me a job to do no matter how small and thank me for doing it.
6. Give me boundaries and hold me to them. Giving me boundaries makes me feel secure.
7. Give me a hug, just because.
8. Introduce me to new things, but find out what I like and allow me to keep those. as well.
9. Keep your promises. Never make a promise or a suggestion of a promise you don’t keep.
10. Recognize my achievements and accomplishments.
11. Find where I shine and compliment me.
12. Do something special just with me, sort of like a Mom date.
13. Laugh. Dance. Be silly. Have fun. I’m a kid, but I need to know adults have joy, too!
14. Show me how to change the way I do things so I can do it better next time.
15. Teach me how to take care of my needs—body, soul and spirit—by teaching, guiding and modeling.
16. Forgive me when I act out and get upset. Realize I don’t mean what I say when I’m angry.
17. Speak to me on your level. I’m smarter than you think. I understand adult.
18. Share your heart with me and encourage me to do the same with you.
19. Speak the truth in love, always. I can accept honest feedback shared in love.
20. Be a safe, nonjudgmental place for me to fall.
21. Help me understand who I am. I learn by being.
22. Show me Jesus by the way you live. I learn by seeing.
23. Let me see you and hear you praying. I learn by hearing.
24. Worship God when I’m around and invite me to join you. I learn by experiencing.
25. Take my hand and help me through this journey called life. I learn by doing.
What’s one way someone became a stand-in Mom for you?
Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.