Defining Moments of Mothering

May 8, 2005Family Uncaged

Like all mothers, I have struggled with feeling inadequate. Sometimes the struggle for me has been titanic. I’ve let the worries absorb me like the waves of an icy sea. But the Lord saw fit to send me many, many life preservers.

One was through my friend Heidi. She visited us for a week when we lived in Palestine, Texas. At the end of the week, she looked directly at me and said, “Mary, your children know that you love them.” It was one of those gifts of rare friendship, the words that spilled from her mouth. I leaned into the words, battling to accept them. I have longed my entire mothering career to know that my children understand and know my love. Heidi’s words, coming from an outsider looking in, confirmed my hope. My children know that I love them.

A year or so later, on January 20, 2001 at 9:40 PM, I was sitting on the couch, knees tucked to my chest, listening to the heartbeat of God. He interrupted my thoughts and whispered, “Mary, I want you to say you are a good mother. Out loud.” Really? Right now? Here?

I took a deep breath and said, “I am a good mother” out loud. The moment the words left my mouth, I wept. The fears and worries I had held close to my heart seeped out, replaced with the peace that only comes from God. I’ve had a deeper confidence since that moment.

My mom has written kind words to me about my mothering, words I deeply appreciate. My mother-in-law has written similar encouraging words. Yesterday, my grandparents wrote, “You are a wonderful mother.” My husband’s voice is a constant, joyful stream of cheering for me as I mother.

Mother’s Day 2004, the day after Patrick graduated from seminary, my friend John, who had been my stepfather from six to fourteen, stood next to me in church. We had just reconnected after years and years of separation. We sang worship songs. During one, he leaned over to me and said, “Mary, you’re a terrific mother.” His words salved my heart.

And a little bit ago, my friend Kathy sent me an ecard that deeply built into my motherhood, sharing how she liked how I parented my children and appreciated the authenticity.

I suppose it would be heroic to say I conquered fears of motherhood without cheerleaders, but it would be an untrue statement. I have needed the cheerleading of friends, family members and the Lord in this holy endeavor called motherhood. I would not be where I am today in terms of joy and peace and hope had it not been for those cheerleaders.

Mothering is a lifelong journey, full of valleys and mountain tops, diapers and car keys, discipline and affection. As I hugged my three children this morning in the light of Mother’s Day in France (see post below), my heart nearly burst with joy for the gift they are to me. Thank You Jesus for them, for Your words, for the words of encouragers.

Because of You, because of how You have loved me, healed me, rejuvenated me, I can honestly say I am a frail, but good mother.