I am thinking and praying a lot this week about motherhood. A lot. And as I do, there is something that rises so clearly to the top of the list of reflections that I have to step aside from the full spectrum for a moment to process this one point.
Moms, I am convinced we have a superpower that is unique in potency to us. Dads have a lesser form of it. Spouses absolutely have a high dose, too. But I think moms may well have more than anyone.
It is the power to breathe life – or death – into the spirit of our children of any age. Just as we were unique instruments to give them physical life, or to bring them into the family unit in the case of adoption, we have a tremendous power to make flourish or to stop cold the life in their spirit. Not just while they are under our roof, but in any interaction throughout time.
I have seen grown men and women beam with the knowledge that their moms believe in them, celebrate them, champion them and love them unconditionally. And I have seen grown men and women weep over the experience of their moms’ comparisons, games, indifference or judgement. The distinction in individual actions may have been as simple as a word, a look or an attitude. But it is powerful.
Why this influence?
Giving birth to a child is a pretty intimate thing. Nursing a child is, too. For at least that pregnancy and early stage, the mom does what no one else can do. She is the one uniquely positioned as first nurturer with the ability to meet every need. God gave her the role of physical life bearer and a divine commission to raise her children well. Whether that role was fulfilled or not, there is a cultural expectation that a mom will be for her children.
Why do moms fail?
To state the obvious, moms are human and flawed, too. We have our own junk in our past and present. And we have varying levels of commitment in any given season to dealing with our own issues. Hurting people undoubtedly hurt people, so if we are not on a path to preserve our own spiritual and mental health, we will likely play out less than desirous behaviors. We also have ego and wiring where it is fully natural to think about ourselves and our feelings; as much as we might like to think to the contrary, we are not perfectly selfless creatures. As a result, we may have expectations that aren’t met or our own disappointments. Our reactions can come from any number of these places.
If we have breath in our bodies, we can do better; it’s not too late. If our children are alive and receptive to us, it’s not too late to purpose to do more or differently than we have. Mothering was never about us or earning our rewards; it was always about stewarding what was entrusted to us. We are older than they are, we are hopefully wiser and more mature, and we are mom. We are a natural life bearer, by design. It is our God-given responsibility that never ends. We can do more to live out that calling.
How can we start over?
Fortunately, we can always go to the Maker of life to ask for both forgiveness and help. Then we can ask our children. Nothing has the potential to inspire closeness like some vulnerability and an honest conversation. And a good point in that discussion would be for both sides to recognize this may be a conversation that bears repeating over and over and over again. Because both will inevitably screw it up. It’s a race back to the reset button. Hopefully we restart as many times needed, together.
How can we inspire life?
It is easier than we might think. After all, what did and do you want to hear? What did and do you want to feel? It starts there. You are loved. You are special. You are good enough as you are. There is no one like you. You make me proud. I care about you and what you care about. I don’t need anything from you but you. You have always been and always will be part of me.
Moms of all ages, assuming we do in fact have lifelong and deep influence over our children, let’s choose well. Let’s choose the superpower of life. Let’s aim to build the spirits of our children of any age. Let’s purpose to be better at it tomorrow than we were today.