Winter, spring, summer and autumn: the seasons God ordained when He instituted time on the fourth day of creation. In life, as in weather, there are seasons.
For women, one of the most precious, frustrating, overwhelming, tedious and fleeting seasons is the season of mothering. As someone who has entered the “empty nest” solstice, I can reflect with understanding upon this all-too-short season of motherhood.
Mary understood that motherhood was a short season with a steep learning curve. The Bible recounts Mary’s response to her twelve-year-old son’s three-day disappearance and his assertion that he was “about (His) Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). In Luke 2: 51, we read “And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them; but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.” Earlier, it says Mary “pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
What does it mean to ponder? It means to think deeply and reflect. Mothers need to think about their actions toward their children. They should reflect on the interactions they have with their children. We need to learn from our mistakes because God has given us an influential role.
As we discussed last week, mothers must be taught to love their children. This isn’t talking about an emotion. Mother love sacrifices. For me, it started with the sacrifice of a job I dearly loved. My sons needed a mother to care for them every day and God had given me that honor by blessing me with children. What will you sacrifice for your children? Goals? Dreams? Time? Money?
True motherhood is self-sacrificing. Mary released her firstborn son to be cruelly murdered for the crime of loving others. She gave up her home in Nazareth to follow her son, standing at the foot of his cross when he completed his “Father’s business:” the redemption of mankind.
- Infanthood: Every mother knows that once a baby arrives in a home, peace evacuates the premises. For the first year, sleep lasting more than six consecutive hours feels like Heaven. The neat, orderly house becomes a designated disaster zone. Well-planned meals? How about a Hamburger Helper special?
- Preschool-hood: Mobile and tireless, these three years seem like ten. Every irreplaceable, breakable object shatters to not be replaced. This is when we learn we never understood what patience was, but we know that God is giving us tribulation so we will one day know patience.
- Elementary Years: Social life revolves around soccer, basketball, tee-ball and going to church. My “friends” were the parents of my children’s teammates. My calendar was filled with practice schedules, game schedules and doctor appointments. The craziest part: I never expected it to be any other way.
- Teenage Years: Sometime around the age of twelve, an alien snatches our cheerful, chatty child and replaces him with a morose individual who rarely leaves his room and has a mono-syllabic vocabulary. Mom is the taxi service, grocery service and ATM machine. Never fear. It seems like they’re ignoring you, but they are listening – I promise.
- Adulthood: At some point, the mother who didn’t know anything of value to the 13-year-old transforms into a genius. She becomes an authority on insurance, buying a car or house and myriad other details adults need to know. I’m still waiting for this, but since I revere my own mother in these areas, I know my sons will come around – eventually.
Mothering exceeds the Presidency in importance. If our world lacks good citizens, we can hardly blame the President. We should look first to the homes and then the churches and schools. Kids learn to brush their teeth and tie their shoes long before they know anyone but “Mom” as an instructor. If it sounds like a hefty load of responsibility: good. It is.
The season of mothering is a week of laundry days punctuated with evening prayers and goodnight hugs. Sprinkle in tears over hurts and failures, stir in worries about safety and choices, sift with diligent prayer and bake at 400 degrees for 18 years. I’m pretty sure the Master Builder (or Chef) can deliver an exemplary finished product.
Up next week: Prayer – A Woman’s Warfare