This probably isn't the easiest time in history to be a mother – at least a good mother. And it would be naive to rank all mothers right up there with apple pie these days. Some fall miserably short of model motherhood.
Society, it seems, gives us all sorts of reasons and excuses to take parenting a little less seriously than a generation or more ago. Modern demands to make a living and then some place a lot of pressure on parenting. A desire to achieve higher levels of competence in careers sometimes provides an easy out from some of the rigors of parenting.
That is not to say that offspring – whether infant, adolescent or adult – must have the undivided attention of mothers and fathers. In fact, the best lesson infants learn is that they are not the center of the universe. Some take longer than others to learn the lesson. Never reaching that point would be unhealthy indeed.
Most mothers I know are deeply committed to being the best they can be. They try to do all the things to produce and maintain healthy and happy children. They would defend their children to the death if they felt they were in danger. They try to be rocks for their children.
I'm not sure most churches do enough to help young mothers – or fathers – learn their craft. I'm not necessarily talking about formal training or suggesting a regimen of mothering courses. But surely congregations would do well to consider that not every mother has a model mother to emulate when it comes to raising her own children. Some actually have rather poor models of motherhood.
It seems that a congregation is a likely place for finding better "mother models" to imitate. Some can demonstrate patience, a badly needed quality. Others have honed a level of compassion that distinguishes them. Others have a knack for bringing the best out of their children. Some know how to deal with difficult situations in a way that demonstrates grace, leaving the rest of us to wonder, "How did she do that?"
Ministers have their "preacher boys," the next generation olf ministers that avail themselves of the wisdom and spiritual depth of their mentors. It is a combination of Pauls and receptive Timothys that help each generation of clergy meet the challenges of their time.
Perhaps we are overdue to recruiting "mother mentors," women of faith who have a great deal of both wisdom and knowledge. I'm thinking of people who could help break cycles of poor motherhood that exist in some families. We have enough great mothers in our churches to dramatically change families for the good.
If you have such a mother, honor her.
Bill Webb is editor of Word&Way.