We fast and pray asking for the Lord to bring healing in our times: for men to be bold and to walk in to relationships with women, for women to be soft and willing to be molded by God’s gracious plan in their lives, and for God to give the good gift of marriage to those who desire it.
I became a mom, as the world defines motherhood, almost 15 years ago to the day. My oldest was born May 14, 2001, and the boys that followed him (yes, they are all boys) are now 9, 11, and 13. Throughout the past 15 years, I’ve had my share of “teachable moments” as a mom as I have navigated the waters, very choppy waters at times, of raising four boys. I’ve not only learned a thing or two about raising children, but I’ve actually learned quite a bit about motherhood, and what I have discovered goes far beyond the neat and tidy definition of the word. My perspective of mothering has broadened to a panorama that includes women of all ages, walks of life, and marital statuses.
The suffix “hood” signifies a group sharing a specified condition or state. So, the term “motherhood” implies a group sharing the condition or state of being a mother. Let me tell you right now, while birthing a child may gain you entry into this group, true motherhood is characterized by far more than gestating, laboring, and delivering. The very essence of the word peels back the outer layer of being a biological mother, and exposes a deeper, more adequate meaning of helping a younger generation grow up and mature in more than stature, but in wisdom and ways that will impact generations to come.
Yes, true motherhood stretches beyond the stretch marks and is borne out of more than a womb. Its offspring develop and grow by compassionate hearts and a willingness to devote the time necessary to make a difference. Motherhood is a sisterhood of women passionate to see the next generation flourish.
I was recently given the opportunity to spend some time with 27 teenage girls. We were able to have in-depth discussions about purity, relationships, and what God’s Word says about them. Now remember, I am the mom of four boys, so offering “motherly” words of encouragement to these young ladies was a bit abnormal for this boy mom; however, I cannot tell you how blessed I was to be a part of that immensely important conversation. Since then, the dialogue has continued with a few, relationships are forming, and plans are being made for more opportunities to foster maturity and growth in this area of their lives.
Having that opportunity with those teenage girls reminded me of so many other spaces the Lord has created for me to “mother” outside the traditional meaning of the word. These spaces span a couple of decades from my young adult years until now. They include leading Bible studies and small groups with middle schoolers, high schoolers, college girls, and young moms. While “mother” may not have been the title of the role I stepped into for that season, I was definitely able to “mother” while leading these young ladies.
So, what qualifies us for entry into this elite club called “motherhood?” In my opinion, it’s really rather simple. The only thing you need to be a card carrying member is a willing heart of compassion that is available to walk through the doors of opportunity the Lord opens to impact the lives on the other side that are waiting to be loved — lives that already have a biological mother, but for whatever reason, God has placed you strategically in their lives to make a difference. For that space and time, God needs your wisdom and willingness to plant seeds of faith in their impressionable hearts and water those seeds with the words of life and truth you’ll speak to them from a mother’s heart.
When we are a part of this society of women, we must not be threatened by each other. As a mom of four boys, I welcome the help I get from other members of the society. There is a dear sweet older lady who has spoken into my boys’ lives throughout the year on various occasions, primarily across her dining room table at a weekly teatime that she has hosted for nearly 25 years. My boys are always welcome in her home, and she imparts her mothering wisdom into their lives every chance she gets.
My boys are also blessed to have two grandmothers and four aunts that also have influenced their lives tremendously. In fact, several examples flood my mind of their times with Aunt Michelle, who happens to be single. She has never let her singleness define her or discredit her ability to “mother” her nieces and nephews. She has been so purposeful throughout the years to encourage them by “getting into their world,” doing things they love, and intentionally decorating those spaces of opportunity with fond memories and formative moments that speak life into them and aid in their maturity. My boys have enjoyed weekend adventures full of theme parks, a Broadway show, a private plane ride over NYC, bike rides, and fireworks on the beach. She takes each of them away for their 11th birthday on an adventure of epic proportions, but the mothering moments last far beyond the fun.
When you read these words, who comes to your mind? Is it a niece or nephew? A student? A single mom? Who might you consider walking alongside? Who needs the love and guidance you have to offer? Motherhood is far more than birthing children. It’s raising up a generation. It’s a sisterhood, a society. Stretch marks don’t define us and experiences refine us. All who are willing are welcomed, and together are triumphant in the task. Raising a generation takes multiple skill sets, personalities, and passions. So, own your place in this family of mothers, and do what God created you to do. Motherhood doesn’t have to be misunderstood when we are all figuring it out together.