If you need a lesson in motherhood, you might try searching the Bible. The scriptures have a rather high expectation for motherhood. Mothers are loyal, fierce, gentle, brave, meek, patient, loving, stern, self-sacrificing — you get the idea.
Jesus said a lot about motherhood when he expressed sorrow over Jerusalem in Luke 14:34: “O Jerusalem, O Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”
Across the page, Wade Paris catches the idea in his “The Shepherd’s Call” column after observing a mother robin.
No one ever called a mother hen “chicken.” Jesus longed to emulate a mother who offered shelter in a world filled with danger, making herself the one port in the storm for her offspring. She huddled them under her wings and literally hid them from danger.
The picture of Jesus is very similar. The object of His desire isn’t a brood of chicks but a people who have lost their bearing, responding to those sent by God with death and violence, killing the prophets. He is the heavenly parent, knowing what needs to be done and lamenting the obstinance of His children. And he cites a motherly example.
Most of us do not have mothers with perfect children. My mother doesn’t. I love my three siblings very much, but neither I nor they are perfect. Each in our own ways challenged Mother through the years. But she remained steady and pretty optimistic. She was there when we needed her.
Susan, my wife of nearly 38 years, and I — despite our best intentions — did not have perfect children either. Neither of those two boys came out of the womb with good sleeping skills. We think that when they were toddlers we must have accidentally enrolled them in the Ear Infection of the Month Club. Then adolescence and young adulthood and all those things that go with those transitions.
One thing I learned early on is that Susan was the mother and I was not. Moms know what is going on inside a son or daughter. Moms know when to gather their children under their wings and when to nudge them out of the nest. It seems intuitive, but it’s probably more than that. Susan is a great mother because she loves so deeply.
It seems to me that motherhood is both a gift and a calling. There are some not-so-good mothers, probably for a lot of reasons. But most are pretty remarkable. They sacrifice their own comfort, their own needs and their own desires to help their children reach full potential.
If you are a mother — or soon to be one — thanks for being the extraordinary person you are.
Bill Webb is editor of Word&Way.