Monday, April 21, 2014

A Word About Mothers

I'm sick of it.

Sick. Of. It.

I'm sick of the perversion and glorification of motherhood that I see continually spread across the cyber-world. The video that pushed me over the edge is a video that depicts job-applicants being interviewed for a "job" that requires 24-hour duty, often standing up, with no breaks and no sleep, and by the way, it doesn't pay anything either. Of course, all of the applicants are appalled and cry "No one would do such a job!" To which the interviewer replies, "Yes, in fact many people do. It's the job of being a mom." And then all of the applicants get all mushy and nostalgic, pouring out gratitude to their mothers.

Such appeals are perhaps understandable apart from Christ. I get how the world could arrive at these conclusions. But as a believer, they make my stomach churn. 

First, motherhood is NOT A JOB! It is a calling and a privilege. It is an honor. It is a sacred role, but it is NOT a super-human endeavor. In fact, it is the very most basic human endeavor possible. God created women to be mothers and men to be fathers, and it was his joy to share creation with us through the act of procreation. The slight insinuation that there could (or should) be any sort of compensation put on such a sacred role is on the same level as suggesting that men pay their wives for sex. Do you see how it cheapens the very thing that flows out of love? Yuck! Just, yuck!

Secondly, this idea that motherhood is  "so hard" reveals how selfish we have become in our thinking. Because I struggled with infertility and faced the possibility that I might never have children, I am left with only one feeling for every hard day I've ever had as a mom: gratitude! I promise you that no matter how difficult you think it is to be a mother, there are thousands of women who, having never had that joy, would trade their best day for your hardest day in a heartbeat. If you are a mother you have been given a gift! Stop whining about it. 

Thirdly, why this need for applause? If motherhood is truly its own reward (which I believe it is) why are we begging for adulation in the public arena? Why do we need validation from outsiders or recognition for our role? It is not enough that we have been entrusted with the rearing of another human life? Is it not enough that we have the opportunity to love and shape a real person? Can't we just delight in the sheer pleasure of mothering without needing a pat on the back? Are we missing the blessing because we are too worried about the reward? God does not give us children to make us feel important. Our value should be firmly rooted in our identity as children of God, not mothers of children. What have we become?

Fourthly, this idea of mother as "victim" or "employee" is pathetic! While I am certain that I am a competent, fully-engaged mother, I have never thought of my self as "never getting a break," or "not able to eat until after my children had finished eating," or even felt that I was at the mercy of my boys. Hello, I AM the parent. I CAN set boundaries. Children can be taught (at quite a young age, I might add) to be patient, considerate, and even to entertain themselves. While we carefully meet all of their needs, David and I have never seen our kids as the "bosses." In fact, in order for them to understand and appreciate God's authority it was important for our boys to realize that they were NOT in charge right from the very beginning. 

And finally, I hate the message that such a video sends to my kids. It makes them out to be demanding and burdensome, when in reality they are the best gifts I've ever received. 

Children are a blessing. They are not our employers. They are not a job. They are not trophies. They are not the source of our identity. They are not the reason for our existence. When did we lose our way?

Mothers, please stop seeking approval from the world. Just love and serve your family as God leads you. He's the boss.


  1. Yes, yes, yes - and amen! I think it's good to remind people to be appreciative of their mothers - but not in that way. I've seen people's attitudes change from joy to drudgery at the very suggestion that their callings - whether as mothers, daughters, or even "simply" Christians - are self-sacrificing. Sure they are - but only from the world's perspective, not from eyes renewed by Christ.

  2. Wonderful post, Aunt Jenn! It's terrible to feel that any calling from God is drudgery, but motherhood seems to be one of the biggest targets for our self-pity in today's society. Thank you for you insights - I was really encouraged by what I read, and I'm not even a mom yet!! :-)

  3. Hi Jen,
    I happened on your link through my Facebook page, and I was most challenged and encouraged by what you wrote. I have not seen the video you responded to (I don't think I need to see it !), but your response is very inspiring. Thank you for sharing! You write so beautifully, as always!
    I agree with you that one's perspective on mothering is potentially highly influenced by having to wait for the blessing of children for years... in that sense, what I would call "delayed fertility" is actually a blessing in disguise - you can no longer take for granted the amazing gift you have been given :)

    I still think that being a mother involves a lot of "work", but it is mostly an absolute delight and certainly a great privilege and a high calling.

    A grateful mother,