This week in Speak Life! ten courageous women shared their authentic and personal stories about their mothers or being a mother. From each account, we are reminded that motherhood and mothering take intentional work. Some of us are blessed to have model (not perfect) mothers. Others of us have had to negotiate the meaning of that relationship. And, yet, every woman who wrote was grateful for her mother and her ability to love.
I am thankful for every woman who willingly shared her story. We also have the Word of God available to us to show that while there were model mothers, there were some dysfunctional ones, too. There are no perfect mothers.
Flawed Mothers: In the patriarchal families of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, there were a lot of family dysfunction—jealousy, competitiveness, and deceitfulness. The first mother who displayed favoritism, creating an environment ripe for sibling rivalry was Rebekah who orchestrated, encouraged and co-signed her youngest son, Jacob stealing the birthright and blessing from his older brother, Esau. Sisters Leah and Rachel had a competition between them that could have only bred that same between their children, and, of course, between Rachel’s younger sons Rueben and Joseph and their older brothers. None of these women had a healthy approach to motherhood, and yet, I am sure they loved their children dearly.
Other Mothers: When we don’t get all we want or need from our mother, God provides other mothers. We don’t know this, but maybe Moses spent a lifetime trying to figure out why his mother abandoned him, no matter if the reason was to protect and save him. Yet, God provided a mother from his own flesh and blood through his sister who watched him after his mother put him in a basket in the Nile River. It was because of his sister, that Moses and his mother got more time together (Exodus 2:1-10).
No one has the perfect family or perfect mother. When we don’t get all we want or need, God still provides.
Model Mothers: Finally, God does provide us with a model mother in Hannah. Hannah was a praying mother. She prayed to conceive Samuel and she prayed after he was born. More importantly, she gave him back to God, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always.” (I Samuel 1: 22). There is no greater gift we can give to our children than keeping them held up in prayer before the Lord. But, when we really let go and completely surrender to God our children, we give them back to Him. We do not try to control who they are. We do not impose our unrealized hopes and dreams on them. We do not make them Mini-Me’s. We do not criticize them when they don’t’ fit into our image of who we think they should be. Instead, we pray for them, ask God to show us how to mother them, and then trust God to shape their lives for His glory.
There are no perfect mothers. The day I became I mother, I did not automatically earn my halo or my entrée into sainthood. Instead, I was a woman with flaws, insecurities, shortcomings who became a mother with the same flaws, insecurities and shortcomings. I do try to work on my “stuff.” I really do try to be mindful of how I speak to my daughters. However, I fall short. Once when my oldest daughter was about 7, she asked me, “Mommy are you tired?” I answered, “Yes. Why?” “Because when you are tired you get irritable and short.” I felt bad. But, what I also saw was a child who was forgiving. Thank God for grace and another day to do better.
On this Mother’s Day, I encourage all Mothers and Daughters to celebrate each other as women created in the image of God; honor each other (or her memory), and thank God for being our ultimate provider in either the mother and daughter given to us or the other mothers and daughters to help fill voids.