“Why, Mommy?” is a question regularly asked by countless children. Often, behind the question is a complaint against a thwarted desire, as in “Why can’t I do this?” I wonder how many times mothers have asked themselves the same question— but with a different meaning, as in “Why do I do this task of mothering?".
Given the enormity of the assignment that mothers are called to complete, the question of motive is worthy of exploration. Mothers wake up in the middle of the night to their crying babies. They do their best to get at least 50% of indistinguishable substances labeled “green beans” and “chicken” successfully into a child’s tiny and ever-elusive mouth. Mothers cover more ground than the Boston marathon as they traverse their house each day picking up toys, dirty clothes, school books, Cheerios, and stuffed animals. Though there’s no meter running, the “Mom Cab” takes kids to baseball and ballet, soccer and swimming, piano and cheer, all while Mom does her own “cheerful” impression. Moms have to channel their inner algebra skills or remember who started WWI as they “assist” their kids with homework. And of course, all moms of teenagers know that the important conversations—the ones that go really deep—don’t begin until after midnight. Given the fullness of this kind of life, answering the “why” question is probably helpful from time to time.
Why will moms choose to live in relative obscurity as they throw themselves into the task of caring for their growing children? How do moms go for such long periods of time having conversations with little ones who speak in only one-syllable words? Why would a woman put her career on hold or cut back on her free time with her girlfriends, just to take care of children who require so much from her?
Different moms have different answers to the “why” question, and I don’t intend to answer for them. However, God in his Word does provide great illumination on this topic that is both faith-building and compelling. The gospel of Jesus Christ powerfully changes those who receive it. When Christ takes up residence in our lives, one of the first things He changes is the object of our love. Self is dethroned, and God takes His rightful place in our lives.
Through the gospel, we have a new love for God and a diminishing love for ourselves. James 4:20 teaches that genuine love for God is always expressed in love for others. Jesus demonstrated the greatest love when He laid down his life for us on the Cross. The experience of many a mother is a daily death to self. Her plans and agendas take a back seat to the pressing needs of her child in the moment. She chooses to invest her time, energy and emotions into insuring that her child is being cared for, nurtured and served, even as her own needs fade into the background. Her teenage daughter’s burdens become her burdens as she enters into her teen world. A mom puts on patience and longsuffering as her son learns the hard way…again. Why does Mommy do that? She does that because she is loving her children the way God has loved her.
The kind of Christ-like love that calls for our death leads to life for both the giver and the receiver. The mother experiences life because she’s been delivered from the shackles of selfishness. The child experiences life because he or she has been the recipient of God’s grace. In other words, God uses mothers to shape and mold, to develop and influence children who will soon be adults. Those adults will take their place and begin to play their role.
So why do mothers take on the Herculean task of mothering? Because they love their Savior and they love their children.
All Because of Grace,