Motherhood doesn’t come with a manual or “assembly rules” for putting together great human beings. Instead, motherhood is a continuous dance of give and take, grow and nurture, step back and pull in, speak and listen, teach and learn, cry and laugh, relax and tense up, hide and show, succeed and fail. Motherhood moves us forward, to new days and new sights. I step back, they step forward. I hold them up, they take steps. They fall, I pick the up. They step on toes, I redirect them.
Motherhood grows in seasons and the seasons only stretch it forward. Motherhood is lengthened and widened, like play-dough and gum, rubber and elastic.
Motherhood is holding umbrellas when it rains, rubbing sunscreen on when it’s hot, bringing in the padded coats when it snows, setting up anchors when the boat is shaken, binding up wounds when the heart is pierced.
The “hood” in Mother must be speaking to all the ways we come alongside our children: all our sides we didn’t even know we have that encircle the little ones. The many “hoods” we hold, the hats we wear. From cook, to doctor, to teacher, to accountant, to counselor, to camp director, to anything else mothers do. Motherhood is “many” in one, a city of buildings, a world of countries, a galaxy of stars.
Motherhood is not just a role: is a way of living among humans. “Mother” is a noun and a verb. We do from who we are. We live from who we were created to be. We “Mother” from the whole of us. All the pieces we were given, all the sequences we have, all the abilities we can muster, all the memories we can remember. Motherhood is patched materials of our life, from the past, from the present, from the future all in one bulk. You unravel any Mother and you’ll find threads and yards of material that fits awkwardly, sheepishly but beautifully sublime.
“Mother” is set not to pictures but to sounds: it is meant to be spoken and heard. Mouth and ears, throat and brain: senses awaken, life conjured. It’s real. It’s vivid. It’s practical. It’s seen. It’s heard. It’s spoken. It’s not Instagram-able: it’s inflesh-able.
“Mother” has both vowels and consonants within, as if to remind us that some seasons will roll off easily and effortlessly like the breeze of vowels, while others will be harder, painful, and obstacle-filled like the intentional hardening of consonants.
In “Mothers” God placed wombs, physical and spiritual, to be shelters of love and wisdom to the children—biological, adopted, spiritual— He has giving her. When God created Eve to “Mother”, He encapsulated in that word her divine blessing to nurture life. The sounds of “Mother” is a reminder that life should be the safest in the person of her being. She’s a hiding place, a lighthouse, a shelter.
“Mothers” are human beings who grow even as they mother. In “mothering” others, we end up mothering ourselves. All Mothers need good mothering. We stare at our own failures, hurt at our pains, acknowledge our limits, admit our mistakes, grieve our brokenness, pray for God’s help, wait for His answers, trust in His promises. We often Mother from brokenness rather than from strengths. I’m glad Adam called Eve “the Mother of all living” after the fall: for the seed of assured victory and hopeful redemption was certain in spite of all the brokenness around them. It wasn’t her sins that would define her role in history forever: but the gift of life in Christ that would mark her impact in this world. Mothers mother well from the promises of Christ.
Not all Mothers had good mothering. Some were broken more than nurtured. Some were abandoned. Some were neglected, criticized, mocked, or abused. Mothers mother often from the shadows of how they were mothered. But the new hope found in Christ changes how we mother in the present. One of the most striking images in the Bible God uses to describe his love for a broken people is that of a “Mother” hen, bear, eagle towards their babies. God’s message is His strong, unwavering, maternal love for humans who need Him. He reveals his protective love for the hurting and vulnerable. God knows how to love the motherless mother. So, take heart, Mother. Whoever you are, wherever you are, however you are: in Christ, God’s love is like a Mother’s love to you, also.
Happy Mothering to all Mothers!