Thursday, May 9, 2013

In Praise of Moms

The feminist movement – also once known as the women’s liberation movement – accomplished a lot of good. It raised the social standing of women, afforded them access and opened doors they never had before, and erased some damaging gender stereotypes. But I think an unfortunate byproduct of feminism was diminishing the value and importance of motherhood.

Certainly becoming a mother is optional, and not every woman has that desire – or opportunity, at least biologically. But in some quarters there has been the notion that there’s something wrong with being “just a mom” or a “homemaker.” As if, to become fully realized and successful, a woman must do something more than that.

I have great respect and admiration for women in all areas of endeavor, whether in the business world, media, education, entertainment, athletics, medical professions, politics, the arts, or other vocations. Where would our world be without the Florence Nightingales, Amelia Earharts, Mother Teresas, Madame Curies, Margaret Thatchers, Oprah Winfreys, Carol Burnetts and Althea Gibsons that have left such indelible marks with their lives and work?

My mom, Helen.
But I hold equal respect, admiration – and amazement – for the moms of this world. When I go into a mall and watch a young mother wrangling two or three toddlers, without complaint shuttling them from place to place, dabbing their tears and responding to their pleas, I am truly amazed.

Dads can do this too, but moms seem specially gifted in this form of “multi-tasking” – seeking out bargains and conversing with friends, while tracking the little ones and warding off whatever dangers lurk around the next corner.

Most of the time when our phone rings, it’s one of our daughters calling for…Mom. She answers their questions, helps solve their problems, talks about their day, and will drop everything at a moment’s notice should a crisis arise. All without murmuring. In fact, if there’s a need, Sally’s jumps at the chance to assist. (I might help as well, but I’ve been known to murmur.)

Three of the moms in our family: Becca, Sarah and Sally.
With four daughters raising a total of seven children, I’ve observed a lot of mothering firsthand. While the dads are at work, battling deadlines and pressures, these women are handling their own job responsibilities, as well as cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring, washing, mediating disputes, wiping noses, and many other tasks somebody has to do – so they do them. Juggling isn’t just a skill for circus performers.

I commend the women that are full-time CEOs, entrepreneurs, physicians, educators, musicians and high achievers in other pursuits. But I don’t believe there’s a more noble, higher calling than being a mom, surviving the everyday challenges of child rearing, from womb through childhood and teens, on to college, marriage and beyond.

There's something unique
about a mother's devotion.
Bryce knows that about
his mom, Amy.
Without diminishing other roles, the Bible holds mothers in high regard. The mother of Moses, for instance, bravely placed her son in a basket of reeds for the pharaoh’s daughter to discover, never imagining the boy would grow up to become God’s man to lead Israel out of Egyptian captivity to the Promised Land.

Before her there was Sarah, wife of Abraham, who at an advanced age became the matriarch of a “great nation, as numerous as the stars” (Genesis 15).

Then there was Mary, who not only gave birth to the Son of God and nurtured Him as a child, but also grieved as He hung from a cross. One of Jesus’ last concerns was to ask His disciple, John, to care for her. “…He said to his mother, ’Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother’…” (John 19-26-27).

In a letter to the church in Thessalonica, the apostle Paul reminded the believers, “we were gentle among you…like a mother caring for her little children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7). Clearly, he thought that was a good thing.

So it’s fitting that on Sunday we observe Mother’s Day, a worthwhile celebration if ever there was one. Let’s honor all women who carry out this priceless calling, often overworked, underappreciated and sometimes even unnoticed. Moms, where would we be without you?

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