Editor’s Note: The Power of Moms is a website for mothers of all religions (and for mothers who are not necessarily religious). Each Sunday, we post a spiritual essay, and we would love to gather a wide variety of perspectives and ideas. Our goal is to be respectful of all beliefs while simultaneously offering opportunities to share meaningful, spiritual thoughts with one another.
I was a lawyer once.
Now I am a full-time wife and mother. I never thought my life would turn out this way. To be honest, I never knew if “mothering” was in me. Even now, I’m still trying to figure out how to do it well. Why? Because I am not, by nature, a nurturer. Or maybe I am, but my “instincts” have abandoned me somewhere along the way. It just doesn’t come naturally to me. I am much too task oriented. I like to do things, to accomplish things, to check things off a list.
I never thought much about motherhood while growing up. I mean I always assumed I would be a mother, but I never dreamt about it. I never played with dolls or babies. I didn’t even like to babysit! I always had other ambitions. I loved school, wanted to be a lawyer, eventually get involved in politics, and maybe even run for office. You know, something important! (Plus my parents always told me I was really good at arguing, so I might as well become an attorney and get paid to do it.) Why did I have to be a mother anyway?
Now, I knew that there was nothing wrong with ambition. And I knew there was no reason why I couldn’t be involved in politics, or run for office, or have a career when the time was right. But, I needed a reason to be a mother. Fortunately God must have known that, because one day he gave me one.
Shortly after I graduated from law school (and was already married), I was listening to a program on TV. I cannot remember who was speaking, but he said something I will never forget: women are meant to be mothers because they have special abilities, given to them by God, that are unique to them and enable them to nurture and care for their children.
Well, that hit me right between the eyes.
I had seen, even known, women who had those abilities: women who were sensitive, warm, empathetic, and caring. Women who loved being mothers. In fact, I have a sister-in-law who loves nothing more than to sit and hold babies. I never loved to sit and hold babies. I have never even loved to sit! Could I become one of those mothers? Did I have some of those special abilities somewhere inside me? At that moment, on that afternoon, my faith led me to believe that it might be true.
And so despite my perceived nurturing weakness, from that moment on I became a dedicated mother–to no one. Our first child, in fact, didn’t come to us for another four years. But I knew then that whenever they came, I would be their mother. Any career choices or ambitions I had at that time would simply have to wait.
I realize not everyone comes to that same conclusion. I realize not everyone can. And I know that those mothers who choose paths different from mine are good mothers too. But I also know what is right for me.
Now just because I know doesn’t mean it has been easy. My nurturing instincts did not just “kick in” because I brought babies home. I confess that much of my mothering career has been spent doing what comes naturally to me–busying myself with tasks such as cleaning, shopping, cooking, sewing, scrapbooking, carpooling, etc. All good and necessary things to be sure. Nonetheless, over the years I have come to realize that children need more than that.
They need warmth.
They need love.
They need me.
God has helped me become more like the mother he intends for me to be. In every effort I have made, he has met me half-way. I have found that good mothering, like everything else, requires practice and effort. The more I practice, the better I get. The more I slow down and enjoy the moments, the more moments there are to enjoy. The more empathetic I act towards my children, the more empathy I feel. The more I focus on my children, the more I enjoy being their mother.
And do you know what I discovered?
I never knew I could feel that way. I never knew I could be that kind of mother. It takes work, a near constant daily alignment of priorities. I have to consciously let go of all the things that come naturally to me and focus on nurturing my children. But I am getting better.
And do you know what else I discovered?
QUESTION: Does nurturing come easily to you?
CHALLENGE: Find one way that you can better nurture your children, and put it into action for one whole day. Then evaluate. Did it make a difference? Do you like yourself better when you make this effort? Did your children respond?
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