I’ve been thinking about my job (as a mother) a fair bit recently. After Monday’s blog post, I felt that I might have given the wrong impression of what life around here looks like. I have a policy (with myself) not to complain or whine on this blog — not about big city life and not about my family. I aim to share fun things we get up to but I don’t tell you about the days we’re all grumpy with cabin fever and scratchy with each other. I share the milestones the kids have reached, instead of focussing on their failings. I do this not to give some sort of impression that we’re some perfect happy family but because I think if you focus on the good things, you’ll feel better about life too. Sort of an excercise in contentment.
But guess what, I’ll let you in on a little secret in honour of Mothers’ Day. One that you probably knew already. Mothers make plenty of mistakes. I’m one of them. There are days when I am selfish, that I don’t discipline when I should, when I get annoyed without good reason. I have to apologise to my kids on an almost daily basis because I snap, or yell, or speak harshly. If you’re a mother, I’m sure you can identify. When you don’t have kids, it’s so easy to look at other mothers (including your own) and say “Oh, I’ll never do that.” Until you become one yourself. It’s so easy to feel superior when you’re not knee-deep in mothering yourself. And sometimes we forget that we’re knee-deep and look over to the mother who slipped up and now has mud on her nose. Then we feel oh-so much better about ourselves.
You know why motherhood can be so hard? Because when you become a mother, your role as servant begins in earnest, whether you want it to or not. Sure, we are all called to serve one another, but you can quickly tick that off the list with a ‘Yes, I helped the old lady across the street’ type of servant attitude. When you’re a mother, you simply have to serve, and the only time that becomes an issue is when we don’t want to. With the same tone of voice as a 3-year-old. It grates on us, because there are sacrifices aplenty. I was sitting in the laudromat thinking again last night that it really boils down to me breaking the summary of the law: loving myself more than God (not submitting to his will for my life), and loving myself more than my neighbour (my kids). Being a mother is not glamorous! There is no pay-rise, no promotion. Being a servant grates only because I don’t remember that Jesus iss The Ultimate Servant who calls me to imitate Him and serve others. Yes, I am called to serve the wider world, but more importantly my husband and children, because that is where he’s blessed me to be.
Have you ever read some of the scriptures about serving others with ‘the others’ being your children? Consider Romans 15: 1-3, for instance:
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”
(Little side note: “Pleasing our children” of course doesn’t mean giving in to their every whim, but to teach, admonish and discipline in a loving and warm environment, because it has to “built him up”. Just thought I’d make that clear, so you didn’t think I was advocating door-mat motherhood that produces brat children!)
Or have you read some of those scriptures, and considered how well your mother served you? Now that I’m a mother myself I realise more and more that there is no such thing as a perfect mother, because mothers are sinners. And yet, in God’s grace, he gives us good mothers. I think back on some of the things I thought were harsh when I was a kid, and now I realise were totally not! I look back and see my mother’s hard work, her discipline and her support (among many other good things) bear fruit in my life, and through that even in my children’s lives. Thank you, Mamma, I love you. Thank you for serving me and my siblings so well, and so faithfully.
(My favourite photo of me & my mum on my wedding day.)
As mothers, our rewards might be small, but precious (hugs, kisses, a “look, mum, look!”, smiles, good behaviour, etc). Nestled in a chapter about good and bad servants we are reminded “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matt 25:40) Servanthood only grates when I forget that my reward is with Him in eternity, and not with my kids’ behaviour or accomplishments or (lack of) affection.
I am a sinner and I fail daily, but through God’s grace, I can be a good mother. This Mothers’ Day, take time to remember the faithful servant God gave you who you called your mother. And if you’re a mother, let’s not … please ourselves. Let each of us please [our children]… to build them up.