I was idly perusing National Geographic recently in a waiting room, when a picture and caption caught my eye.
Picturing a golden group of cuddly lioness and several cubs, the caption read,
“Older cubs like these youngsters are raised together as a crèche, or nursery group. Pride females, united in the cause of rearing a generation, nurse and groom their own and others’ offspring.”
The article denotes the efficiency of cooperative mothering in nurturing healthy cubs, but also acknowledges that when a pride gets too numerous, an excessive amount of competition arises. Two to six females seems to be optimal on the plains.
As I read about how lionesses band together to raise their cubs, I was struck by how moms in this generation can learn a few things from these lovely ladies.
Lessons for Mommas from the Lioness
1. Get a tribe.
They call it a pride, but we moms need a tribe. Two to six might be just the right number of moms to unite and have a good gabfest or pray for one another.
I have seen before my eyes a room of moms find answers to tricky parenting problems that have been plaguing them for months within minutes of entering the room and talking to other moms. It’s magical.
What this means in different life stages
- New moms. I have talked to many moms who considered the first months of motherhood some of the hardest in their lives. Know a woman having a baby? Support her. Are you having a baby? Reach out. Ask for support.
- Toddler moms. You’re home all the time, your day is an eternity, and you so badly need adult conversation. Get some! Put your toddlers together and take turns letting them destroy each other’s house while you get some support and help. Ask some sweet older ladies in your church for help so you can grocery shop alone. They love toddlers.
- Middle moms. Kids in the school years. Homework, soccer practice, PTA, whatever it is, get a tribe of you together to carpool, coffee date, or just sit by each other at practice.
- Teen moms and beyond. You need support, advice, love, help, and prayer to navigate these tricky years. Talk it through, pray it out together.
2. Look out for each other’s little ones.
Mommy wars are a real thing, so I am not talking about smugly pointing out that your friend’s child might have autism to make yourself feel better about your own offspring.
This is a whole different ballgame with these lionesses. They are united in the cause of rearing a generation. They know, as we should know, that the success of each one is dependent on the success of the whole pride.
Let me put it differently, your friend might be raising your child’s future spouse. Probably not, but if you think about it that way, you may be a whole lot more interested in little Kale’s anger problems. You might just pray your heart out for him.
When you visit your friend, look at their child, talk to them. See them as a neat little person you can get to know. I don’t mean to spend the whole play date with them; moms need mom time. But one sad casualty of our helicopter, fear-based parenting of today is that we have completely lost our village.
If it takes a village to raise a child, we are all single parents.
3. Share with one another.
The lionesses work together to catch prey, then share it among themselves and their cubs during lean seasons when there is not much food. They also give time and attention grooming and feeding and nurturing all the cubs, not just the one they have birthed.
What if we share our time and talents and love, too? Recently, in leiu of a gift, I took pictures for two of my friends for special events. One friend sewed a purse for my daughter for her birthday present, and another friend made a cake for my daughter’s birthday in exchange for me taking her family pictures.
For each of those occasions, we could certainly have run to Target and purchased something, but it was so much more special to share gifts and time and attention.
Motherhood is such a joyful, exhausting adventure, but the exhaustion is lessened and the joy is shared when we experience it together with other moms.
Rather than compete, let’s learn from the lioness and consider the whole generation of little ones we have the privilege to raise, how we can all thrive together.
Let’s get a lioness heart for our children and our friends and our friends’ children.
Let’s be a tribe.
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