How do you define “mother”? “Bing” dictionary defines “mother” as a woman who has raised a child, given birth to a child, and/or supplied the egg which in union with a sperm grew into a child; a female parent.”
I find those definitions to be inadequate. Because being a real mother has more to do with caring nurture, not an accidental relationship. Most women I know are moms by birth, by choice, or by God’s unique design; they are either “momming” their own children, motherless kids, pets, friends, elderly parents, or other needy people (my husband would jokingly add “even their husbands”).
I have had two special “moms” in my life, one by birth and the other by God-created circumstance.
My birth mom gave me life, as well as birthing 6 other children – 3 prior to me and 3 after. She took care of me until I was old enough to take care of myself – which to me was when I was about age 6 and thought I didn’t need anyone to take care of me or tell me what to – until I got hungry or was afraid of the dark or got sick. My mom taught me to read by reading books with me, cut out paper dolls with me, made sure I attended school, and saw that I was fed and dressed for the weather. She listened to me when I needed to talk, corrected me when I tried to put the blame on others, defended me from my 2 older brothers until I was old enough to fight back, and was always available as a stay-at-home-mom – which gave me a great degree of security. She died while I was in college. You can read more about her in a previous blog post,
Shortly after I graduated from college, the Lord gave me another “mom”. She is still Mom to me. She was my pastor’s wife, a totally different person from my birth mom. She was a “birthless” mom, in the sense of physically bearing children. But she heart-adopted several young women, of which I am one. I was very involved in her life of ministry. She mentored me and encouraged me in my endeavors to serve the Lord. She involved me in the ministry of the church by taking into account my abilities, gifts and passions and channeling them. She made me a part of her retreats, special events, etc. by allowing me to use my musical gifts. She even launched me into teaching seminars on her retreats, even though I was untested and she knew that there were areas of disagreement on a few theological issues.
My second mom and her husband also involved me in their personal lives, invited me to share their vacations at the ocean and at their cottage on a lake in the Pocono Mountains. After I married, my husband, David was also included as one of the family. My second mom was Dorothy Worth, better known as “Dot”. “Mom Dot” took an interest in my romantic life and often gave me her counsel on different boyfriends or tried to steer me toward those she was more favorable toward. She took me on shopping trips and taught me by her lifestyle how to do hospitality in the home.
Whereas my birth mom was a home-body, shy and a bit reclusive, countrified, unsure of herself in many areas, my second mom was confident, out-going and full of energy.
My birth mom was a “good woman”, open to God, but not knowledgeable about the Bible or spiritual things. I had the privilege of leading her to the Lord Jesus during my first year of college. My adopted mom was a radio Bible teacher, who spent time in the word and in prayer. She gave me guidance and helped to round out my spiritual development. Later in her life, following a serious stroke, she was confined to a wheelchair, and lived in a total life-care facility in Lancaster, PA. Even there she played a big part in my life – encouraging and praying for me. She also played a mean game of Scrabble, challenging me whenever I visited her. She also keept up with the Phillies and the Philadelphia Eagles. Mom Dot passed away on December 21, 2016 at the age of 92. I really miss talking with her on the phone and reading to her from her Facebook page as her eyesight faded more and more.
Both moms – by birth and by God’s direction are very special to me. They both had a profound effect on my life. They were both caring nurturers, each in her own way.
I have not birthed a child. My daughters are “born” out of a heart relationship with me and my husband. They are heart adoptions. We recently moved in with our special daughter, Tammy, and her husband, Lew. The others live a distance away, but there is still a heart-connection. Whether by birth or God’s design, mothering can be very fulfilling.
A friend of ours was unable to bear children, so she and her husband adopted 7 children of mixed racial and national backgrounds. She is a super mom who home-schools her kids, teaches them about God’s creation through outdoor schooling, shows them self-reliance by involving them in gardening and raising chickens, and loves them into the kingdom of God.
Another “childless” friend of ours is a free-lance “social worker”. She does not work for an agency, but through her church and social contacts is always “mothering” people who need encouragement, help, caring nurture – no matter their age. Another friend who is single, invests herself in the lives of troubled youth. She has a “mom” heart.
If you are a “wannabe” mom who has not been able to conceive or carry a child to term or are unmarried and beyond the age of childbirth possibility, ask God to connect you with someone who needs a caring relationship – child or young adult – that you can minister to by loving nurture. Be a mom to someone who has longed to have a mother to encourage, counsel and care for him or her. I can testify from both sides of the picture that being a “mom” by birth, by choice, or by design is a very important and fulfilling role.
©2014, Marcy Alves
What’s the most special thing about your mom? Do you share a common faith in the Lord Jesus? I’d like to share with you about my mom.
My birth mother was an overwhelmed mom. She was an adopted only-child who married young (age 16) to my dad who was 21. She birthed 7 children – two girls and five boys, of which I am child number four and the youngest daughter. (That’s me and my mom in this photo – I was about 2 years old.)
When my mom and dad were first married, she knew nothing about house-keeping, cooking, etc. Their beginning reminds me of Loretta Lynn’s story in the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter, except my mom did not learn to play the guitar and her father was a carpenter not a coal miner. She did have a good voice however, and was blessed with that exceptional gift of perfect pitch. I’m sure she was influenced musically by my Grandpa, who played the fiddle and accordion – but she didn’t pursue music after the kids came along.
Not enough time. Just keeping up with the laundry without automatic washer/dryer – washing by hand, later by wringer-washer, and hanging clothes on a clothesline to dry. Scrubbing out stains on a washboard, not having all the amazing stain removers we now have.
My mom’s beginnings are vague – she was born to a single woman whom I only knew by the name of Minnie. Her birth mom visited our home only once that I recall when I was age 12. My oldest brother attempted to trace my mom’s genealogy after her death, but he could find no birth certificate or adoption papers in our state or county birth records.
My mom was a nice person and never said a bad word about anyone, or repeated gossip. She was fair-minded: when I complained about something one of my brothers did to me, like punch me, or about mean treatment from a playmate, she would ask, “And what did you do first?” (Of course, it was never “my fault”.)
My mother did not go beyond 10th grade, but she was very intelligent and an avid reader. I remember her reading to me when I was little and helping me to follow the words on the page – I learned to read very early. She cut out paper dolls with me and had a small collection of porcelain dolls.
My mother was also a good listener. She would spend time listening to me recite passages of Scripture that I had to memorize for a Bible quiz team that I was on in high school, insisting that I get it word-for-word, by saying, “Now sunshine, (her nickname for me), that wasn’t quite accurate. Let’s try again.”
Other things I remember about my mom were her frequent headaches, a very messy house, her perfectionism (which I believe hindered her housekeeping), her nervousness over finances (there was always a struggle to make ends meet), and her sadness. I believe she suffered from periodic depression, though I didn’t comprehend that until I was grown and she was gone.
We were not a “huggy” family, but the day I left for college in Philadelphia, having seldom traveled farther than my home state of Virginia, I remember giving my mom a hug which she eagerly reciprocated. From then on it was hugs upon arriving home and hugs when leaving.
Though I often shared my faith in Christ with my mom, in my college freshman year I felt compelled to write a letter to her about her need for salvation. When she next forwarded my mail to me, she wrote a note saying, “I’m not sure how to respond to your letter.”
I prayed very hard, before going home for Thanksgiving break, for an opportunity to share with my mom regarding God’s call on her life. One day we were alone in the kitchen doing dishes together and I knew this was the moment God had prepared. I asked my mom if she had thought about my letter and she said, “A little. I don’t know what to think about it.”
I then asked her if she knew where she would go when she died. She answered, “I would hope heaven, but you can’t know that until you die.”
I then shared with her 1 John 5:11-13 which says,
“And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”
I asked Mom if she had ever prayed to ask Jesus to come into her life and forgive her sins. She responded, “No.” I asked if I could lead her in a prayer. You could have knocked me over with a feather when she said, “Yes.”
After we prayed, my mom (who was 5’ tall) looked up at me and said with tears streaming down her face, “I feel so clean inside.” It was a very special moment in my life to bring my mom to Jesus. My mother died 1 ½ years later at age 47.
I thank God for my mom’s influence in my life, but mostly I thank God that I will see her again one day.
How about you? Will you share eternity with your mom in the presence of our Savior? If she is still alive and doesn’t know Christ, ask God to give you the opportunity and courage to lead her to saving faith in Jesus.
©2012, Marcy Alves