How is it that motherhood has taken such a nosedive in honor and respect in the last 20 years? Television doesn’t seem to know how to portray moms. Teachers often encourage young girls not to “waste” their lives just being mothers. And women are continually encouraged to assert their intelligence and influence everywhere but in the home. Many women, beginning with my generation, have acted as if motherhood were a brand of mediocrity to bear-if you can’t make it in “the real world,” at least you can always fall back on being a mother; but you’ll have to live with the stigma.
My husband, Stu, and I have spoken at a number of FamilyLife marriage conferences. During one conference, a woman approached who had been reading ahead in the outline provided. She didn’t like what she saw coming, and she told me there were things she wanted me to omit—things like the importance of a mother, how to raise kids, and making the family a priority.
She didn’t want to hear anything about staying at home. She didn’t want to hear anything about having kids. And she didn’t want anyone making her feel guilty. She was a professor at a local university, and she wanted to stay in the classroom where she deserved to be.
I tried to explain graciously that what I would be presenting was generally applicable (after all, having kids is the only way to ensure future generations) and that I wouldn’t have time to address all the exceptions. Since I was the speaker and already had my message prepared, and since I happen to believe what I was going to say and intended to say so anyway, she walked away in a huff.
She’ll probably never change her mind. Maybe that’s best. Maybe not. You may feel much the same. Or you may be confused, not knowing which route to take.
Let me offer an example of a friend who changed her mind about mothering. My two older sons both had her as a single teacher in high school. When they knew her, she was adamant about never having children. She once told her class, “If a baby fell out of the sky and landed in my lap, I wouldn’t have an inkling of what to do with it.”
Not long ago, I saw her at a ball game. She laughed as she told me, “You’ll have to tell the boys to drop by the house when they’re home from college. It’s been an amazing transformation. They’ll have to see it to believe it.”
What would they have to see to believe? She’s not only happily married, but she’s now the mother of a baby boy as well. And the transformation has been amazing. She even wrote to me after learning I was writing a book on mothering:
“I don’t ever want to have kids.”
I wonder how many times in my life I’ve said those words? Hundreds probably. And I really meant it. If there was ever anyone who was sure about not having children, it was me!
Now here I sit, a 37-year-old mother of a 6-month-old baby, and I laugh as those words echo in my memory! Describing what my son means to me is an impossible task. I could never put down in words the feelings I have when I’m doing all those things mothers do, feeding him, changing him, comforting him, playing with him, holding him, or watching him sleep.
The joy I get from taking care of this helpless little human being and knowing that I’m there for him when he needs me is immeasurable! He’s such a precious little one. I can’t imagine my life without him. He’s added a different dimension to who I am. He’s helped me to focus on someone other than myself, in the process making me a more caring person.
I still work. I love my job teaching high school English, and I always will. But I’ve cut back my schedule, and now I only teach part-time. Real living begins when I pick up my baby after school and head home to be a mom. I’m a changed person, and I love it!
All the people in my life who heard me for so many years say I didn’t want kids would be proud of me. Being a mother is the best choice I ever made.
Don’t listen only to the call of the politically correct, who tell you not to stay home and bake cookies but to get out there and make something of yourself. Sure you have rights to be your own person. But your children have rights, too. Among them is the right to be properly nurtured and given a strong foundation upon which to build their lives.
Yes, some women cannot become mothers. Others have lost their children. Some simply have not felt adequate or gifted for the task and have avoided it. I have no criticism to aim at them.
I do take exception, though, to those who bad-mouth and denounce motherhood. How arrogant! Do they think they were produced by a color copier and a FAX machine?
Are they really unaware that they owe many of the personal strengths they now flaunt to their mothers?
Motherhood is not an entry-level service position for mindless, insecure, second-class citizens. It is the noblest of callings. To be entrusted with the very life, health, and well-being of a tiny human person is a great gift and honor. To realize this small child reflects traits and characteristics of you, your spouse, and your families is a mind-shattering and heart-rending realization. To invest your time and best efforts into a child and to watch him grow, develop, and excel is to be part of the creative majesty of life itself.
Copyright © 2001 by Linda Weber. All rights reserved.