One thing Mother’s Day tends to bring out in many of us is pride in our mothers. It’s a wonderful day set aside each year to honor our matriarchs and sing their praises. Almost everyone can think of something their mother taught them and be thankful. Mothers are their children’s first teachers, no matter their level of education or job title.
In reflecting on my own mother, I’m filled with deep love and admiration for a job well done in raising her four children. We were extremely loved, cared for and brought up in the faith, largely because of her. I often find myself thinking, “What would Donna do?” and the majority of the time I do whatever she would. If you know my mom, then you can understand why I feel so confident in her wisdom on motherhood. She is a woman devoted to the Lord, and would tell you that any good in her life is the Holy Spirit’s working.
Because of this, I’ve put together a list of “10 Motherhood Lessons From My Mom” that I hope will help you as much as it has me!
1) Do not neglect your time with the Lord. Mom spent time with the Lord in scripture reading and prayer each morning before anyone else was awake. She had a specific chair in our house where I would see her prayer journal and Bible still out and open. This is something I’ve always loved about her, and it has not changed! Even when we are visiting and staying with them, every morning she is in her chair reading her Bible when I come down the stairs. It’s the core of who she is. She’s the woman, wife and mother I know her to be because of her walk with God.
2) Love and respect your husband. My parents are not perfect, and neither is their marriage. BUT they truly love, respect and speak highly of one another. When we were younger, they made time for date nights and were often caught by one of us slow dancing in the kitchen or snuggled up on my dad’s chair. I never worried about their marriage, because they demonstrated their love and devotion to each other and to our family each day. She did not allow us to talk badly about our dad and he was the same way. They had each other’s backs and honored one another in public and in the privacy of our home.
3) Discipline your children as unto the Lord. Teaching your children the importance of obedience lays the foundation for the gospel. Honoring your father and mother is a biblical command (Eph. 6:2), and helps your child learn and understand how to one day honor the Lord with their life. Putting others before yourself (Phil. 2:3) is an imitation of Christ. Faithfully disciplining your children teaches them to submit to their God-given authority, and points to future submission to God.
My mom often says children are capable of much more than we give them credit for. Their little minds can learn so many things, including manners and respect, but you have to teach and work for it! Mom was never nervous to take us out in public or go to a restaurant with us. We knew how to behave, and we knew the implications for our disobedience. And I am thankful.
4) Use your home in service to God. I’m glad I grew up in a home where people were always welcome. My mom is a wonderful, gracious hostess and was always having people over for Sunday lunch or weeknight dinner. As a pastor’s wife she often had our church’s staff and their wives over, as well as the deacons, senior adults, and many church members and their families. Our home was used for high school Bible studies, even after holes were put into walls and the yard was driven through by teenagers. People knew when they came into our home that they were welcome and loved. My parents view their possessions as the Lord’s and their home has never been an exception. It was a vessel for ministry and I hope to use our home in the same way.
5) Make your children help around the house. Growing up we did chores every week. We did not get paid for doing these chores, nor did we get a huge round of applause for accomplishing whatever was on our list. We learned to help our mom with housework and take care of where we lived. When we were elementary age and up, we always cleaned the dishes after a meal. Dad and mom would sit and talk on the couch as we cleaned and put away food. We cleaned our rooms and brought our laundry down. Mom was not seen as our servant, and we were not allowed to treat her that way. I know we would gripe and complain about it many times, but now that I have a house of my own I’m so thankful to know how to care for it! Moms, you do not have to do the work by yourself. Even a toddler can pick up their own toys.
6) Have family meals around your kitchen table. We live in a fast-paced world where going through a drive thru and passing out kids meals is considered dinner (and it’s totally fine to do sometimes!), but meal time around your dinner table needs to be a priority. My mom’s mom was a working mother who had a homemade dinner on her table each night. I’ve always considered her Wonder Woman and I’m still not sure how she did it all! But my mom learned from the best, and because her mother valued meals around the table with family, my mom did the same. Your children learn many important things at the kitchen table, including manners, sitting still, eating their food, staying in their seats, as well as joining in on table conversations instead of staring at a screen. Growing up, the television was turned off, the home phone was taken off the hook, and cell phones were left in another room. Meal time was sacred in our home. You don’t have to make it fancy, but you should make it happen.
7) Learn to be on time. My mom hates being late. She always said when you’re late, you’re really saying you don’t value other people’s time. It is an act of selfishness ultimately. If she could be on time to church, ball games, practices and meetings with four children, it is possible! Lay clothes out the night before for your kids, get up early to pack lunches, have bags already in the car, whatever it takes to help be on time, do it. You don’t have to always be running out the door forgetting things. Plan ahead and be disciplined to keep your word, showing up when you said you would.
8) Take care of your health, but don’t obsess over it. Mom has always been active and healthy, but it was never an idol in her life nor a way of body shaming herself. I don’t remember hearing her talk negatively about her body or idolizing her appearance. At 58-years-old my mom has aged beautifully and gracefully. She is not lazy and has always led an active lifestyle. I’m glad for a positive example in my life of a woman who takes care of her body, but is not obsessed with the external. There is a balance to be had here, and I really feel my mom has maintained that balance well.
9) Love your Mother-in-Law. My dad’s mom had a stroke and was moved into a nursing home in her 70s. During this time I watched my mother’s relationship with my grandmother change, and my mom blossom into an amazing caregiver for her mother-in-law. Mom bought my Nanny outfits, picked her up for church, helped her get dressed, did her hair, and had her over to our home for meals weekly. She did all of this without complaint. She was always respectful and kind to my grandmother before her sickness, but in the last seven years of my Nanny’s life I watched mom serve like Christ. It was beautiful. She served and loved to the end, holding my Nanny’s hand as she breathed her last.
She often says, “Loving your in-laws is an extension of loving your husband.” You treat them like family, because they are your family now. They raised your husband and helped him become the man you love. You include them as much as possible and make them feel welcome in your home. No one is perfect. You are not perfect, your mother-in-law is not perfect, and your family is not perfect, no matter how fondly you think of them. The bottom line is, you love them like Christ and treat them how you would want to be treated, and you love your husband by loving them well.
10) Do not complain. One of the things I love most about my mom and Mamaw (her mother), is their ability to do many things for many people without complaint. Mom didn’t complain about having kids, parenting alone many days when dad was finishing his doctorate with three young children at home, getting us up and ready for church by herself as a pastor’s wife, having last minute visitors drop by, or taking innumerable meals to people in need. She taught us to do the right thing as unto the Lord, and to do it with joy. The Lord sees and knows all things, and he sees you faithfully serving your family with a song in your heart.
This is not an extensive list, but merely things I’ve thought through in light of Mother’s Day and being thankful for my mom. It’s a beautiful thing when your mom becomes your friend, and I thank the Lord for giving my siblings and me such a great one. I love you mom!
Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise. (Prov. 31:28-31)