The Power of a Positive Mom
1 influence beyond measure Never Underestimate the Power of a Mother
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue . . . Her children arise and call her blessed.
—Proverbs 31:25–26, 28
Mothers possess a rare form of wisdom. We know important information that others don’t—such as the location of the restroom in every grocery store in town and exactly where to go online to find the perfect remedy for a dry, hacking cough. The rest of humanity may not know how to cut sandwiches into animal shapes or which restaurants offer “kids eat free” on Wednesday nights, but mothers know. And moms are keenly aware that a chocolate ice-cream cone cannot be consumed by a preschooler without leaving its mark on a freshly cleaned outfit or finely upholstered furniture. Others seem oblivious to that fact (especially dads!).
Obviously, we mothers make up a highly informed segment of society. Some days we may wish we did not possess such experiential knowledge, but the truth is that we wouldn’t trade this job for the world. It’s the toughest job we ever loved!
Motherhood transforms naive, inexperienced young ladies into wise, accomplished women who command respect. Maternal love strengthens us and helps us grow into selfless, thoughtful, and giving adults. I like the way author Susan Lapinski describes it: “I guess what I’ve discovered is the humanizing effect of children in my life, stretching me, humbling me. Maybe my thighs aren’t as thin as they used to be; maybe my getaways aren’t as glamorous. Still, I like the woman that motherhood has helped me to become.”1
Yes, being a mom changes us for the better!
Granted, the work schedule for a mother is a bit challenging: twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year, with no weekends or holidays off. Even moms who work outside the home know they are “on call” 24/7. Some people would throw in the towel at such impossible hours, but not mothers! God has given us an inexplicable strength—a strength beyond our own strength—that allows us to tend to the multiple needs and cares of our precious charges. Like the Energizer Bunny, we just keep going and going despite midnight feedings, sleepless slumber parties, twice-a-week soccer practices (plus a game on Saturday), and overdue science projects. It generally requires a doctor’s order for a mom to take “sick leave.”
Cathy is a good example. A stay-at-home mom of two preschoolers, she had rarely taken a leave of absence from her job as a mom. But when she found herself restricted to bed rest under a doctor’s care, she called her in-laws to come to the rescue. Before her replacements arrived, however, her three-year-old son, Ryan, approached her and said with deep concern, “Mommy, what are we going to do? Who is going to feed us and put us to bed and play with us?” Tears filled his little eyes. “I need you!” he cried.
Ryan recognized the truth that when mom is off-duty, things just aren’t the same. He was consoled only when he was told that Grandma was on her way. At least his grandmother was an experienced mother!
The Worth of a Mom
A study recently conducted by Edelman Financial Services tried to identify the many occupations that a typical mother might be said to hold over the course of a year. The researchers also examined salary data supplied by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, trade groups, and human resource and staffing firms. Putting all the information together, Edelman estimated that a mother’s worth is approximately $773,700 per year! Here is a breakdown of the various tasks typically performed by a mother and the corresponding median salaries:
Computer Systems Analyst
Food/Beverage Service Worker
General Office Clerk
Child Care Worker
Elementary School Principal
The Edelman study suggested that since a mother wears many hats and is on duty twenty-four hours a day, she deserves a full-time, annual salary for all seventeen positions. And since the retirement, health, and insurance benefits that workers in these positions typically receive were not factored in, the figures should actually be much higher!3
Quite a flattering list, don’t you think? But I noticed that a few items were left out of the calculations. For example:
Kissing a boo-boo
Fixing a favorite meal just the way they like it
Making them feel special on their birthdays
Getting up during the night for feedings or illnesses
Adjudicating sibling disputes
Searching the entire house for a lost gerbil
Cheering enthusiastically from the sidelines
Scratching their backs while they lie in bed
Baking warm cookies for an after-school snack
Telling stories at bedtime
Holding their hands during vaccinations
Giving a hug, a smile, a word of encouragement
There are some things money just can’t buy! While Edelman’s research may have been on the right track, the truth is that a mother’s worth is incalculable. Few can duplicate our loving touch. What price tag can be placed on the sense of warmth and comfort we bring to our homes? On the feeling of protection and safety our children enjoy just because we’re nearby? On our uncanny ability to sense our children’s needs before they even ask?
Recently I asked a small group of mothers, “What makes a mother priceless?”
One woman responded, “Nobody but a mom can tell when her child is about to throw up!”
Who can calculate the worth of that kind of “mother’s intuition”?
The world does not necessarily recognize the unique value of motherhood. In fact, we have to fight hard not to be discouraged by current cultural trends that tend to devalue a mother’s role and downplay her influence in the lives of her children. Yet, we need look no further than the Bible to see that God has given parents the job of training and teaching their children. In Deuteronomy 6:4–7, Moses charges the Israelites to faithfully impress God’s commandments on their children’s hearts: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Clearly God places in the hands of parents—not peers, not schoolteachers, not government officials, or anyone else—the responsibility for teaching their children to love God and obey His Word. And as godly parents we have been specially empowered by God to pass on His commandments from generation to generation.
Modern society is rampant with self-centered philosophies of “self-improvement” and “self-actualization.” We are bombarded daily with messages that tell us we should look out for number one and pursue our own interests and goals at any cost. This pervasive thinking, by implying that the selflessness of motherhood is not a worthy investment of our time and effort, often creates feelings of inadequacy in moms.
The underlying myth is that if we endeavor to be attentive mothers, we are missing out in life. Not so! What could be more invigorating, more life-giving, than a house full of energetic teenagers wanting to be fed or a handful of toddlers wanting to play hide-and-seek or a newborn baby wanting to be held?
Besides, as Jesus said in Matthew 10:39, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Motherhood has this kind of selfless love built into the job description. I can assure you, moms aren’t the ones missing out!
Expanding Our Talents
The truth is that motherhood is not only a good use of our talents and abilities, it actually increases and expands them.
Being a mother broadens our worldview and opens our hearts to a deeper compassion and love for others. It constantly exposes us to new challenges and stretches us to learn new skills. Where else but in motherhood can a woman learn to effectively juggle five tasks at once? A typical mother can cook dinner, answer the telephone, and help with the homework while feeding the baby and scolding the dog. She can shop for the household, do a couple of loads of laundry, write the bills, and still show affection for each of her loved ones. And all of this is often after a full day at the office! Amazing!
Remember Edelman’s list of occupational roles filled by a mother over a year’s time? Where else could a woman get such extensive on-the-job training?
Stay-at-home moms often feel put to the challenge when someone asks, “And what do you do?” Unfortunately, because of the way society thinks, it seems shallow to answer, “I’m a full-time mom.” Even though we know that motherhood is a high and important calling, we feel as though we must be able to list several substantial interests outside the home to satisfy our inquirers. It used to be that our occupation was spoken of with respect and honor; now it’s treated as a mere accessory in the ensemble of life! And moms who also work outside the home are sometimes marginalized on the assumption that they can’t do both jobs well.
My family roots are in Pekin, Illinois, home of the late Senator Everett M. Dirkson. One time a Chicago Tribune editor posed this question to the senator: “Senator Dirkson, you’ve been the confidant of four presidents, you’ve known the great and near great in this world. Who would you say is the greatest person alive today?”
Without hesitation, the senator said, “It’s somebody you never heard about before. It’s a mother who gets up and gets her children prepared for school; it’s a farmer down in southern Illinois that goes out and plows the ground with nobody cheering, nobody supervising.”4
Certainly we do not receive a lot of accolades for being a mom. Often our many hours of hard work seem to roll by largely unnoticed, but our work does make a difference in this world. My dad always says, “Spectacular achievements come from unspectacular preparation.” The tasks we do day in and day out as a mom may not seem so spectacular, but they are achieving an important end goal: raising the next generation.
We can be confident in the work we do as moms, knowing that we are making a difference every day in the lives of the children God has placed in our care. Whether we spend a major portion of our day at an office, a school, a hospital, a store, a factory, or at home, we are first and foremost mothers—and we are continuously building values and vision into the lives of our kids.
No language can express the power and beauty and heroism of a mother’s love.—Edwin H. Chapin
Remembering Our Employer
Take a moment now to reflect on the day you first added the word mother to your job title. It was on that day that you began a new and unique journey into the unknown. You took on a monumental obligation and trust, agreeing to a lifelong commitment to love and care for that new person God brought into your life. You probably felt inadequate at the time, but day by day you grew in wisdom, strength, and ability to match the challenges of your new role.
The truth is that mother describes not only what we do, but who we are. From the moment children were first introduced into our lives, we became new people—women with a greater purpose, responsibility, and significance.
Colossians 3:17 reminds us. “And whatever you do,” the apostle Paul writes, “whether in word or in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Paul continues in verses 23 and 24: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
As believers, whatever work we do is for the Lord. It is ultimately God we are pleasing as we devote ourselves to our families. It is God who will reward us one day for our untiring effort. If we were working for people in this world, we would no doubt want recognition or pay for what we do as moms. But ours is a higher calling. We are not working for money or accolades on earth; we are working with all our heart for the Lord. In fact, our entire job as mothers is done from the heart, rooted in the motherly love God has given us for our children.
Dear friend, you and I can go forward with complete job confidence. After all, we work for the greatest employer in the universe! Our work as mothers does matter—because it matters to God. We can wear the title with humility and honor, recognizing that we have the power to influence and mold our children like the precious pieces of human clay that they are.
Listen to the words of this insightful poem:
I took a piece of plastic clay
And idly fashioned it one day;
And as my fingers pressed it still,
It moved and yielded at my will.
I came again when days were past,
The form I gave it still did last
And as my fingers pressed it still,
I could change that form no more at will.
I took a piece of living clay,
And gently formed it day by day,
And molded with my power and art,
A young child’s soft and yielding heart.
I came again when days were gone;
It was a man I looked upon,
He still that early impress bore,
And I could change it never more.5
It’s true: every new mother holds in her arms a precious bundle of malleable human potential waiting to be molded into flourishing adulthood through her tender, loving care. Our job as mothers must never be taken lightly! We have a great responsibility—both to God and to our children. As we understand the impact that our words and actions have on the lives of our kids, we realize the monumental nature of our task. But God never gives us a job He doesn’t first equip us to do. As mothers, we have been specially created to influence the lives of the generations that follow.
Consider Victor, who juggles two demanding jobs. He is a probation officer for a juvenile court during the day and a gymnastics coach in the evenings and on weekends. Victor was one of ten children, raised from his youth by his mother and grandmother in a household characterized by both strict discipline and unconditional love. He credits these two women with the strength and determination that he learned as a young man and that continue to serve him well now.
More than anything else, Victor says, his mother and grandmother taught him the “wisdom of compassion” and how to truly care for others. With great insight, Victor adds, “If anyone understands pain and strength, it is a mother. My mother and grandmother endured much pain in their lives, yet they were incredible pillars of strength mixed with kindness.”
Victor is not alone in recognizing the valuable contribution of the women in his life. Men and women throughout history have given their mothers acclaim and credit for the meaningful encouragement and direction they provided.
Abraham Lincoln, for example, was the great and accomplished president who recognized that he owed much to the mother who raised him. She not only taught young Abe to read, but she went to great lengths to obtain books for him. She wanted to enlarge his world and encourage him to rise above the poverty his family experienced. Lincoln later praised his mother’s influence when he said, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my mother.”
The Statue of Liberty offers another magnificent example. Each day hundreds of people visit this great statue to gaze upon the beautiful, feminine figure representing the freedom we experience in this great land. Few realize, however, that they are looking at the image of the sculptor’s mother! Yes, Frederic Bartholdi chose his own mother as the model for the Statue of Liberty since she represented a heroic and influential person in his life. Now her image lights the way for all who enter New York Harbor.
You and I may not have statues fashioned after us. But as mothers, we have a similar opportunity to light the way for our children—to help shape them and direct them toward becoming all that God created them to be. Like Lady Liberty, we too can stand tall!
A Humbling Realization
Before we get too puffed up, however, we must realize that the ultimate provider for the needs of our children is not us, but God. There are times when we cannot be present to assist our children through a crisis or challenge. But God is there, ever present and always able to supply the help our children need.
I learned this lesson firsthand years ago when I went on a “Mom’s Weekend Away” with a couple of old high school buddies. Just as we arrived at our hotel, I received a message that my twelve-year-old daughter, Joy, had fallen and dislocated her elbow. She had been rushed to the emergency room of the local hospital.
“Everything’s under control,” my husband, Curt, said over the phone. “You don’t need to come home.”
Of course, rushing home was my first instinct. I was only forty minutes away, after all. Surely my baby needed me and would not make it through this crisis without me!
My girlfriends didn’t allow me to persist in my motherly arrogance for long. Curt could certainly handle the situation, they said; besides, it might just be good for both him and Joy. Even Joy insisted that I didn’t need to come to her rescue.
“Dad’s here,” she said simply.
I’ll be honest. It was difficult for me not to rush to my daughter’s side. But I came to the humbling realization that there are times when our kids can and will make it without us—even should make it without us. It is tempting as mothers to step in and solve all of our children’s problems, thinking we are the only ones who can. The truth is that our children need experiences that teach them to cope without us. If we take care of every need and are present in every situation, how will our children learn dependence on God?
After the accident I noticed that Joy and her father shared a new and unique bond. Yes, I could have stepped in and tried to save the day, but I would have denied them a wonderful opportunity to work through this challenge together. Sometimes we “wonder-moms” need to humble ourselves and get out of the way!
Rest assured, our influence lingers on, whether we are right there with our kids or not. Consider what Thomas Edison, one of America’s greatest inventors, had to say about his mother:
I did not have my mother long, but she cast over me an influence which has lasted all my life. The good effects of her early training I can never lose. If it had not been for her appreciation and her faith in me at a critical time in my experience, I should never likely have become an inventor. I was always a careless boy, and with a mother of different mental caliber, I should have turned out badly. But her firmness, her sweetness, her goodness were potent powers to keep me in the right path. My mother was the making of me.6
Mothers have one of the most powerful jobs on earth. With God’s help, we can influence our children to become world leaders, talented inventors, creative musicians, great athletes, passionate preachers, devoted schoolteachers, committed physicians, and the list goes on. But we must never think pridefully that we are the sole influence in our children’s lives! The truth is that while Thomas Edison was greatly influenced by his mother, he somehow made it through most of his life without her. God also uses fathers, grandparents, youth leaders, teachers, and friends to assist our children along their journeys. And we should be glad for the help! Most important, we can trust that God is watching over them!
Someone has said, “God couldn’t be everywhere at once, so He created mothers.” Not true! God can be everywhere at once. He is omnipresent. On the contrary, it is the mother who cannot be there to meet every need and resolve every crisis in her children’s lives. Yes, we are highly influential; but let us respectfully and reverently recognize our capabilities and limitations.
God has given each of us the responsibility to train, nurture, develop, prepare, and teach the precious children He has put in our care. Through us—and with His constant guiding presence—He is raising up the next generation. May we be faithful to our high calling! The world may not reward us for our selfless love and diligence. It may never give mothers the credit they are due. But we can still keep going and going—fully assured that one day, in the kingdom that is eternal, we will hear our heavenly Father say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.—W. S. Ross
READ: Psalm 34. How do these verses help you and strengthen you as a mom? Underline or copy the significant verses. Choose one to memorize this week.
PRAY: Wonderful Father, thank You for allowing me to participate in the glorious occupation of motherhood. Thank You for being the perfect parent—and the perfect role model! Please help me to remember that my job is significant and eternally important. Help me to glorify You as I work, teach, play, change diapers, and make sandwiches each day. Bless my family with peace and safety as we grow to honor you. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
CHOOSE: I will view my role in motherhood as a highly significant investment of my time and energy.
DO: On a large index card, write out your job description as a mom. Be creative and include all your responsibilities. Here’s an example:
Investor in Human Resources
Encourages and instructs all clients to build on their strengths, gifts, and talents. Invests love, care, and tears into all clients’ accounts. Drives to most locations. Attends all performances and events in which clients are participating. Provides for basic needs of food, clothing, and clean house. Irons occasionally upon request.
Write out Colossians 3:17 on the lower portion of the card, then place the card on your bathroom mirror or in a frame near your kitchen sink. Use it as a constant reminder of your job’s significance—and the name of your employer.
CONNECT: Through E-Mom Resources online at www.PositiveMom.com