It’s almost the end of Mother’s Day on Southern Planes of Texas, so instead of focusing on authentic manhood, it seems appropriate to explore the meaning of motherhood. I was raised by an alcoholic mother with no father, so my understanding of a mom may differ in parts from the norm. Yet, at the same time, I have watched my wife mother three children over the past 11 years, so there is some merit in redefining it.
- Motherhood is not following Proverbs 31 to the last letter. There is many a women’s ministry that means well pushing women to follow the godly example outlined in Lemeul’s work, but I think it adversely distorts a mother’s perception of reality. A woman cannot expect to fully follow the commands any more than a man can expect to love his bride as Christ loves the church. It is a goal, not a measurement of woman’s worth.
- Mother’s do not have to find a career outside the home. I firmly agree that women should be treated equally in the workplace (after all I work in an HR dept.), but that does not mean they were created equal. They have different needs, desires, and sources of fulfillment. They should not feel forced to work outside the home in order to be successful in life. Rather, a stay at home mom (especially the one who homeschools) has a full time job raising the kids, while the husband is at work. Not that dad shouldn’t pitch in when he comes home, but that 9 to 5 business of being a personal taxi service, ad hoc nurse, on the fly arbiter is a magnitude of responsibility for one person to manage on their own.
At the same time, I want to be very clear with my intent. I have no problem with the many moms who choose to work outside the home. More power to you, if that’s what you feel comfortable doing. My faith is strong and wide enough to understand that God has something in store for the women in their sphere of influence (read: ministry) at work as much as the stay at home mom. Just making the point that you are not less than a mom just because you don’t contribute financially to the household.
- Mother’s do not live in Martha Stewart’s house. This is by far the hardest lesson I have learned. For many years, I had this unrealistic expectation that our house should be spic and span at all times. The reality of the situation is two fold. If you are a stay at home mom, then your hands are full with taking care of the children. Likewise, if you are at work all day, you are just as exhausted coming home. The cleanliness of your house does not define how successful you are at being a mom!
- Mothers need help to be mothers. Parenthood was never intended to be a one sided job. It’s too much responsibility for one person! It takes two to create and two to take care of them once they’ve been created. Authentic men will be servants to the wives needs, pitching in around the house and actively raising the children. In turn, this gives the moms the freedom and breathing room to grow into their role as a mother. I have also found that we learn from each other’s parenting style, when we are working together.
- Authentic mothers are rooted in God. Seems like a natural enough statement, but often gets overlooked in our American Christian subcultures. We hear many a sermon about how the man is the spiritual leader of the family. But in reality, a mother is just as responsible for representing Christ to her children as dad. God doesn’t let you off the hook on the account of following the husband’s lead (check out Adam and Eve for more details). Rather, in order to grow into the role of motherhood, you have to go to the source who created it in the first place.