4 Signs a Mom Is Really Struggling

4 Signs a Mom Is Really Struggling

4 Signs a Mom Is Really Struggling

We grow up dreaming about what our lives will look like, yet sometimes it feels as if the walls are closing in on us. The enchantment we had once envisioned can begin to feel more like chains. Sound familiar?

As a little girl I loved to play dolls. Pretending I was a mom to twins, Isaac, and Irene. I changed their “diapers,” brought them swimming, fed them, and put them down for naps. I couldn’t wait to become a mom one day, it was truly all I wanted to be when I grew up.

Thirty years later and my dreams have come true, well not exactly, but I am a mom. However, motherhood and marriage aren’t nearly what I romanticized them to be. Sometimes it is so much more than I could have expected, and other times it's far far from it. I don’t have twins, I don’t have an Isaac or Irene, and when taking our kids to the pool I have realized I would much rather be in the sun with a good book than in the water swimming.

We grow up dreaming about what our lives will look like, yet sometimes it feels as if the walls are closing in on us. The enchantment we had envisioned can begin to feel more like chains. I’ve experienced this kind of struggle firsthand. Though it has looked different depending on the season of motherhood and life I was in.

These days being a mom is even harder as we scroll through our phones and look at all the other moms who seem to have it together. Their kids are matching, their house is decorated, their freezers are stocked, their pantries are organized with cute chalk labels and matching containers. Oh and the chore charts! I can’t tell you how many times I have inducted a new system for keeping things clean in our home and weeks later it has already fizzled and failed.

It’s easy to take these failures personally, as if we as moms have failed. But the truth is we are all struggling in our own ways. I remember when I first became a mom I honestly didn’t experience the flustered new mom cliche so many women face. My firstborn came 10 weeks early, after a week alone on bedrest because my husband was away in the Air Force. Instead of waking in the middle of the night by a newborn cry I had to set an alarm clock just to wake up, pump and hope my milk would come in as I called the NICU nightshift nurses for updates.

Many moms struggle in the beginning years. For me personally the first five years of motherhood felt like a blur. Instead, I struggled as our kids began to get older and our calendar began to overflow with sports and school commitments.

When facing personal seasons of struggle, we struggle differently. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others. Below are a few signs a mom is actually struggling.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/zergkind

4 Signs a Mom is Really Struggling

1. She is withdrawing or distancing herself from those she used to spend time with.

As moms, our days don’t always go as planned. Maybe the kids were up throughout the night, or someone peed their bed, creating more laundry than there was already. There are many reasons a mom friend may have to cancel plans or a playdate. However, if this becomes frequent, or she is no longer showing up at MOPS or bible study, she may be struggling.

Some of us are introverts, natural homebodies, and hate to be on the go. However, if she used to be up for getting together and no longer is, she may be trying to distance herself. Sometimes when we are struggling, our knee-jerk reaction is to push those who are closest away.

2. She’s experiencing a major life change, maybe more than one at the same time.

I would say that anytime a mom is walking through a significant change, she most likely is experiencing some kind of struggle. Whether it’s a move, career change, a new baby, a loss, etc.

My husband spent 11 years in the Air Force, and we moved often. I would have considered myself a pro. However, our last move about wrecked me. I felt so overwhelmed, more so than in any other move. I was experiencing so much change at once because a week after we moved our youngest started kindergarten. After a decade of being a stay at home mom I no longer knew what my days were supposed to look like.

Change can be hard, even if it’s good. If you have a friend walking through significant change right now chances are she’s struggling, whether she shows it or not.

3. Her moods seem to be changing.

If she is becoming easily agitated or irritated in situations she never had before, she may be struggling. Often when we are struggling our emotions show it. Is she more anxious than normal? More angry? Or moody? Maybe she used to be talkative and is now quite silent. Obviously we all can be irritable at times, but if there is a significant change in her mood, she may be struggling.

4. She’s physically showing it.

Maybe you can see it in her eyes, maybe it’s in her facial expressions, her body language. We can only hide our hardships and struggles for so long. If someone feels like they have been treading water for too long they can begin to feel as if they are drowning.

I’ll never forget when a dear friend came over to visit a couple of months after our last move. When she asked me how things were going, I threw up a jumbled tumbleweed of words describing every emotion I was feeling, while trying to fight back tears. She could see the struggle surfacing in my eyes.

When you know your friend well, and take the time to stop and ask her how she is doing, you may just be able to physically see it in her response.

How You Can Help a Mom Friend Who is Really Struggling?

We all face struggle in this life, some more than others. If you have a mom friend you believe is really struggling, here are some things you can do.

Drop by her house, check in on her. Even if she seems to be pushing you away, especially if she is becoming more distant out of nowhere. Offer to babysit to give her a break. Bring a meal. Ask her how she is doing. Listen well. Be the friend you would want her to be to you if you were struggling. And don’t forget to pray, for her heart and her hurt.

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/globalmoments


strong> sarah nichols headshot 2Sarah Nichols is a writer who loves to encourage women by sharing hope-filled stories that point others to Jesus. She lives in Kansas City, MO with her high school sweetheart and their three kids. You can find more from Sarah at her blog sarahnicholswrites.com and on Instagram @sarahnicholswrites.

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