Ten Things I Think About Mothers

1. I think Motherhood is not "shaped" by other vocations, it is itself a vocation.

a. I recently came across this question on an evangelical Christian blog:

How Are Callings Shaped By and Beyond Motherhood? 

The question itself is deceiving because Motherhood is itself a calling, just like fatherhood is a calling. I have a vocatio, a vocation, a calling--the terms are often conflatedfor different areas of life.

b. I have a "calling" as a husband and father--my family vocation. i have a "calling" as a writermy occupational calling. I have a "calling" as a member of the Church universalmy ecclesial calling. I have a calling as a member of my local community in Oxfordmy community calling.

So, calling (vocation) is not shaped by motherhood or fatherhoodit is that very thing! 

c. This is not to say other vocatios do not influence or help shape other vocatios. Obviously, my occupational calling influences my calling as a father. But this question seemed to suggest that there's something else beyond motherhood, or fatherhood.

2. I think I really hate when people say that my wife has chosen to "stay at home with the kids" as if she has resigned herself to a prison sentence. 

a. My wife will never cease to be a mother--that's her parental calling. Yes, she is a mother but that does not mean she will ever cease to be an excellent bible teacher, that is her vocation, whether she is getting paid for it or not.

b. She also has a relational calling to me as a wife, as do I to her as a husband.

c. The question itself (See #1) creates a bifurcation that is unnecessary and hurts the discussion. There is no "beyond motherhood." My wife will always be a mother. The better question is, "How do relational callings within marriage and community and career paths shape me as a whole person?" 

d. It just so happens that we've decided that for now my wife's occupation and familial "callings" align. That is no better or worse a decision than to hold an occupation, like the CEO of a company, while also mothering young children. In all our decisions we must understand our own circumstances and count the cost of one decision over another. 

e. We have friends who do the complete reverse of our scenario, and they are thriving and have incredible kids. The mother in that family experiences exactly what I do when I come home from library or a work trip. Is one better than the other? No. 

f. And dare we forget working single mothers who do not possess the luxury of choosing--who do it all because they have to. Their's is a plight few of us take the time to understand. 

3. I think we need to stop measuring ourselves by the narrowness of our occupations and see one another as beautifully complex individuals. 

a. I don't measure my mother by her occupation or community status. I measure her by her love for me. By what she sacrificed for me. By how steadfastly she prays for me. By how deeply she laughs with me. By the memories we've collected through the good and bad times. 

b. Part of my vocatio as a husband is to love my wife in such a way that empowers her to reach for the stars in all her vocatios. How can I help her be the best mom ever? How can I help her take advantage of occupational opportunities? How can I support her in our homeschooling endeavor? 

c. There's so much she does and is ... and her "occupation" is only one small aspect of that. 

4. I think these are the essentials for kids who want to honor their mother: 

a. Flowers--preferably a hanging basket! 

b. Breakfast in bed

c. Vacuuming the floors

d. Snuggles

e. Clean up your own messes

f. Give up the TV remote

g. No arguing or pulling hair or sticking tongues out at your siblings


5. I think these are the essentials for "dudes" who want to honor their wives who are mothers: 

a. Take initiative and ask her out

b. Clean the kitchen for the weekend, and consider taking it on as your chore instead of sitting in front of a glowing rectangle

c. Give her time away from the kids

d. Encourage a girls night out

e. Don't bring up sex unless she does

f. Body massage by you

g. Body massage by a professional

h. A gift certificate to Anthropologie

i. Sitting through a whole romantic comedy without offering a snide comment

j. Dancing with her to Taylor Swift in the kitchen 

k. Do your own dang laundry

l. Take her to local pub for some chardonnay and "dream" talk in whispers

6. I think the previous "essentials list" just put me in an awkward position of unmet expectations {smirk}

7. I think mothers are fierce, beautiful, and courageous

a. Screaming a life into the world seems like something otherworldly. Mothers are fierce. 

b. Enduring the rigors of childrearing and body changes that accompanies giving birth creates in mothers the mysterious kind of beauty we encounter in a summer storm, in a winter snow, in the crashing waves of the ocean. Mothers are beautiful. 

c. Their physical and spiritual pain that attaches itself to motherhood carries a formidable resonance that men know nothing about. If courage is the virtue of acting and moving forward undeterred by pain, then mothers are courageous.

8.  I think of my mother and I think of laughter and flowers, of goodness and whimsey, and I am humbled to tears. 

9. I think of my wife as the mother of our three pixies and I think of: 

a. A woman unselfish with her dreams

b. A scholar ready to impart her knowledge

c. A warrior poised to defend her girls, no matter what

d. A poet writing prayers to and for her pixies, to God, to the wonder

e. A hot moma

10. I think this is one of the best quotes about motherhood: 

To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.

—Maya Angelou

Timothy Willard is the author of five books, including Longing For More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life and the forthcoming The Life-Giving Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019). He has collaborated on over 20 books and has written, consulted and served as spiritual director for organizations such as Chick-fil-A, Catalyst, Q Ideas and Praxis Labs. When he’s not riding the trails in the Appalachian mountains you can find him by the fire with his three daughters and his wife making up stories about Tom the back yard badger. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.