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
There are times when I run across something that has been forwarded (and forwarded, and forwarded, and forwarded) to me in an email that is a “keeper”. I save them for future use. Sometimes I don’t know who originated it or who wrote the piece being forwarded. The Evolution of Motherhood is such a piece. I do not take any credit for it, except to have the sense of humor to enjoy it, the ability to recognize “truth” when I see it, and the “thoughtfulness” to share it with my readers. Let me know if there is a resonating chuckle of recognition out there – especially if you are a mother.
The Evolution of Motherhood
Yes, parenthood changes everything. But parenthood also changes with each baby. Here are some of the ways having a second and third child differs from having your first:
- 1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your OB/GYN confirms your pregnancy.
- 2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.
- 3rd baby: Your maternity clothes ARE your regular clothes.
The Baby’s Name
- 1st baby: You pore over baby-name books and practice pronouncing and writing combinations of all your favorites. You check out the meaning of the names.
- 2nd baby: You name it after your mom or dad or favorite uncle or great aunt.
- 3rd baby: You hear a name on the 11:00 news and it sounds kind of nice.
Preparing for the Birth
- 1st baby: You practice your breathing religiously.
- 2nd baby: You don’t bother practicing because you remember that last time, breathing didn’t do a thing.
- 3rd baby: You ask for an epidural in your 8th month.
- 1st baby: You pre-wash your newborn’s clothes, color-coordinate them, and fold them neatly in the baby’s little bureau.
- 2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes are clean and discard only the ones with the darkest stains.
- 3rd baby: Baby boys can wear pink, can’t they?
- 1st baby: At the first sign of distress – a whimper, a frown – you pick up the baby.
- 2nd baby: You pick the baby up when her wails threaten to wake your firstborn.
- 3rd baby: You teach your 3-year-old how to rewind the mechanical swing.
- 1st baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics, Baby Swing, and Baby Story Hour.
- 2nd baby: You take your infant to the park.
- 3rd baby: You take your infant to the supermarket and the dry cleaner.
- 1st baby: The first time you leave your baby with a sitter, you call home 5 times.
- 2nd baby: Just before you walk out the door, you remember to leave a number where you can be reached.
- 3rd baby: You leave instructions for the sitter to call only if she sees blood.
- 1st baby: You spend a good bit of every day just gazing at the baby.
- 2nd baby: You spend a bit of every day watching to be sure your older child isn’t squeezing, poking, or hitting the baby.
- 3rd baby: You realize little children love to watch TV – you finally get some free time.
Marcy’s ending note: There are just some times in life that you have to learn to laugh, and with motherhood those times are continuous. The longest laugh is when seeing your child take off on her own, with her accumulated “stuff”– followed immediately by a good cry in her empty room.
How’s motherhood treating you? Are you surviving or enjoying every moment? (Well, most of them.)
©2012, Marcy Alves
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