Sunday, May 11, 2014

An Open Mothers' Day Letter

Dear fellow humans, and people of the Church,

This year on Mothers' Day, I am compelled to write to you. We've been celebrating this day in American culture for my whole life and probably yours. I love my mother and mature female role models; thank you for being a part of my life. This is the fifth year of being a mother to our children and I feel the time is right to gently remind fellow humans, and especially the Church body, of some things. If my own children had taken a wrong step, I would gently correct them as their mother.

Please stop idolizing motherhood and family. One's identity is not in a role, nor have women arrived at personal fulfillment when reaching the milestones of becoming a wife, mother, or grandmother. I don't need natural born nor adopted children to 'mother' others. I don't need my children to find status in society. I risk serious damage to my spouse and children when I try to do all things myself without rest. All fulfillment, all status, all identity is ultimately found in relationship with God, our Creator and Lover who loves us even when unlovely and excluded.

Please stop speaking highly of motherhood with one breath, and pushing mothers out with the next breath. I find it very confusing and disheartening to be invited to an occasion -- and told that my two year old is welcome -- but then be shushed, complained about to the coordinator, and told that taking him out is for the best. If you saw him daily at home and out in public, you would understand that if he plays quietly with blocks, a puzzle, and a toy car, he is doing a fantastic job of being well-behaved. If you saw him daily when he gets hurt, you'd understand that one dismayed shriek, an "I bumped my head!" then quiet cuddles after a major head versus table bump is fantastic behavior. If you say you want to welcome young parents and single moms to events, but provide no quality childcare, then you must understand that I will be bringing my two year old with me. There is no one else to care for him. It particularly irritates me when this occurs in the Church. My husband works to lead you spiritually; Sunday mornings are work days. We sacrifice a lot as a family to drive 35 minutes one way to your congregation and remain the whole morning since we have one car and young children. Right now, it seems that you delight in what Nick can provide you, but you just aren't up to teaching his children, or spiritually feeding me. Just tell me clearly if I should stay local and walk to the church near us that is welcoming of even the youngest, squeakiest babies.

Please stop seeing me as just a mother. I'm quite new to being a mom; 26 years passed before I become a mom, so please remember that I am my God-created self first. I have interests beyond my kids' personalities and interests, and I do pursue them daily. Young women, I am the same age as many of you -- 30 years old -- and would love to talk about adult topics in which we're both interested. When I'm reduced to a role in your eyes, it saddens me because it's hard to always be the one trying to start other conversations with you. God gifted us these natural-born children and I influence them in huge and limited ways, in a few positive and many negative examples. Please don't compliment me on their preciousness; any good in them is really the Holy Spirit at work.

Thank you to the men and women who have held and loved my children. It means so much that I can read God's Bible with others for one hour a week and be spiritually refreshed.  This is possible because you lovingly cared for my child, let her eyes and hands explore, encouraged her questions and interactions, and showed her through action what God's love looks like. Thank you for smiling at my son as he hums a song, for shaking his hand when we're all saying "Hello!" and for holding him on your lap while he turns the pages of a book, especially when he makes it a little difficult to hear the speaker. Thank you for seeing my full hands and arms and offering to get me a Bible, a cup of water, or asking what I need. Thank you for interacting with me and not just my children, as if they are a side-show and I'm their trainer. Thank you for remembering my name and interests, I'm trying to do the same for you. Instead of simply discipline, thank you for modeling loving leadership and maturity at ages 45+; you're teaching me and others a lot about what it means to parent, grand-parent, love, and forgive all people.

Happy Mothers' Day to all women who care like moms!


  1. You said, "It's hard to be the one to always start conversations with you" - I get so exited when someone asks me a question that doesn't have to do with my baby! Parenting really is a full time job, granted one that changes you more than most, but who wants to talk about their job all the time? In all seriousness, thanks for the reminder about where our identity truly lies. I appreciated hearing about how people have loved and cared for you and your children fully. I never understood how important that is until I've experienced it myself.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Molly! It really is a blessing to me and my kids when others get involved.