By Cindy Koch –
Ever since I became a mom, I have struggled with these words. I was at home with my little ones 24 hours a day. Morning breakfast, afternoon naps, after-dinner cleanup, evening bath time, and midnight feedings. As much as I loved my children, as much as I loved being a mother, I discovered a repressed adventurous longing for something more. I would watch my husband open and close the door, venturing off into an interesting wide world just beyond the front walkway. And I would wash, rinse, repeat, one more day, one more time. I’m just a mother.
I would hear of the women who were doing amazing things: working full time, starting a charity, teaching Bible studies in Africa, pursuing degrees, all in the middle of motherhood. But I was covered in rice cereal, sleep deprived, creatively budgeting on one income, and still had no time to even read a whole book. How could these other things be possible? What is wrong with me? Oh yeah, I’m just a mother.
And they would tell me to find a passion, find a hobby, find a job. Anything to distract me from being just a mother. And maybe they were right. My home was boring. Same walls, same dishes, no conversations that challenged my mind. They would tell me to get a babysitter and take some “me time.” Anything to get me time away from just being a mother. And maybe I should have listened a long time ago.
But the babies grew a bit; my outside perimeter became bolder. I could now bring the little ones to the grocery store, and they would sit in a cart for maybe 20 minutes. The era of discipline in public places was a daily battle of trial and error, negotiations, and hills to die on. It was even more exhausting than our time at home. I worked, taught, and molded my kiddos, yet I received no paycheck for my time nor praise from their lips. I did, however, acquire many condemning stares and much unhelpful advice. There had to be something more to this, right? How long will I just be a mother?
But my struggle with these words did not remain internal. I eventually had to admit them out loud. Someone once asked, “What do you do?” Shame, regret, frustration washed over my fumbling answer. I’m… just a mother. I watched the sympathetic eyebrows rise for a shared moment of pity. But I wasn’t simply angry at my cowardly tone; the other person silently confirmed my admission of shame. Oh, the poor dear, I could almost hear from her gaze, you are just a mother.
My own wandering heart along with our present culture does not really value the calling of a mother. And it might just be the case that both my heart and our world are correct. Perhaps a woman should be more than a mother and prove her worth in some other wonderful way. But then I take a moment to consider what our children would say.
Mother, you held my tiny unstable head before I could even look into your eyes. I screamed weakly for food and comfort, and you knew what I needed. Milk, warmth, love, and a soft place to sleep, you lay me in the center of your heart and of your life. Mother, you thought I was beautiful even when my cheeks were dirty. You fought the world and your selfish heart to show me love, especially when I didn’t deserve it. You stayed the whole night next to my feverish bed with a hand on my forehead. You fed me broccoli to make me strong. You hugged me close when my friends told me lies. You laughed at my jokes even if they weren’t very funny. You helped form me into the person I now see in the mirror, for better or worse. You are just a mother, but to a child like me, it’s the most important thing you can be.
The vocation of mother is a pleasing service to God. Children receive food, clothing, safety, and love from God through the hands of a mother. Just as feeding the poor or preaching to those who have not heard, a mother touches her children with the blessings of the Almighty. Surely, others can also give God’s great gifts her children. But she has been called to this place, personally to these little humans, for a very special task. She is designed and created to be just a mother for her children.
Although my selfish heart and this competitive world counsel me otherwise, it is honorable to be just a mother. Since my eternal future is secure by the sacrifice of Christ, because my tomorrow will ever be in the daylight alongside the Lord of Creation, I am not worried nor ashamed about my own purpose here on earth. In Christ, there is nothing more I must add to my resume. In Christ, I have been set free to love those around me. In Christ, it is enough to be just a mother.