Being a mother is a complex business.
You have to be a guiding light, a nurturer, a friend, sometimes a disciplinarian, but always the human haven a child of any age can come to for help and comfort.
Thinking about the most important qualities a mother needs, I think love, understanding and forgiveness rank pretty highly—along with a good sense of humour and the ability to laugh at ourselves the way our cheeky children often do.
Mothers figure prominently in the Bible—there are 220 mentions of mothers in the Old Testament and 80 in the New Testament.
One of the loveliest biblical descriptions of the highest qualities for mothers is found in the book of Proverbs.
“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness” (Proverbs chapter 31, verses 26–27).
While this was written in a different culture and age to our Western world of today, one where household chores weren’t shared between the sexes the way we might, I believe it’s a pretty accurate reflection of the qualities most mothers aspire to.
As any mother of young children knows, they certainly don’t eat of the bread of idleness—the demands of toddlers soon put that idea totally out of reach.
Of course, there are different stages of mothering, beginning with the intense 24/7 periods of early childhood, where your nightly sleep can be interrupted by those piercing 3 am cries of “Mummy!” when illness or nightmares disturb their—and everyone else’s—slumber.
Fast forward 15 years to when you have 18-plus aged children who have discovered the joy of late-night parties and a driver’s licence, and slumber is still disturbed in much the same way. Except that it’s listening for the arrival of the car at 3 am on a Sunday morning, waiting for the comfort of knowing they are off the roads and home safely.
It is fair to say that mothers never stop worrying or caring. Perhaps the nurturing gene is hard-wired in our brains!
However, some mums get a rough start if they have sick babies or are affected themselves by post-natal depression. This is where those vital early connections can need a little help getting established, as the so-called mothering instinct can be swamped by severe anxiety about a baby’s health issues, or the feeling that you as a mother are heading for a mental breakdown.
With support and love, we pray that these traumatic times can be worked through, and that we see children thriving—showing love to, and being loved by, their mothers.
From my perspective, it’s rather wonderful to both be a mother, and have a mother. Whatever our situation, may Mother’s Day bring hope, joy and love for every mother out there.