Is Being a Mother Worth It?

Is being a mother worth it

I waited with my youngest infant son in the doctor’s examining room for a well baby check-up. It took the doctor an interminable time to come. Meanwhile, baby had a leaky diaper that necessitated cleaning him and the examining table. Then baby spit up all over his clean clothes and his mom..

And I thought wryly about “the nobility of motherhood.”

Mothering is filled with highs and lows. There is nothing like snuggling with a baby wrapped in a hoodie towel fresh from his shower, the smell of baby shampoo wafting from his hair. Or receiving your first gift of a wildflower plucked with chubby toddler fingers especially for you. Or “book gluttony” after a library visit. Or laughs and tickles and playgrounds when they are young to games and talks and insights when they are older.

But there are also continual struggles with never-ending laundry, picking up toys, feeling like there is not enough time and energy to go around, not to mention blow-out diapers, meltdowns, trying to teach manners, arguing over why eating candy before dinner is not a good idea and why “everybody else is doing it” is not a good reason.

Some women focus more on the bad than the good, as one woman did when she wrote that she regretted having children. So now she advises other women not to have them. She feels motherhood keeps women “out of the work force, trapping them in a prison of domesticity.”

One of her reasons not to have children is that her children disappointed her. She doesn’t reflect on how she disappointed them. She tells women, “To persist in saying ‘me first’ is a badge of courage.” Yet she doesn’t feel that way about the child saying “me first.”

It’s true we sometimes come to motherhood with idyllic expectations. Christians know that our children are born with sin natures, but we’re surprised how early and strongly those natures exert themselves.

And we bring our own sin natures into the mix. It’s no wonder all these sin natures bumping into each other cause conflict and stress.

But they are also an excellent segue for teaching about grace and our need for God’s forgiveness and help. It’s not for nothing Colossians 3:12-14 says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

Besides sin, children aren’t born knowing how to behave, share, think of others’ feelings, take turns. That’s what parents are for: to patiently teach them all those things.

Many in our society at large honor those who invest their lives in others–teachers, mentors, philanthropists. Yet so many look down on the investments of everyday motherhood, which for love’s sake deals with the nitty gritty and teaches and trains children through the highs as well as the lows, the mundane as well as the heart-warming. Why is being in the work force considered more valuable than training children at home? Why is taking care of and training children considered such a low-level occupation (even among paid professions like child care and teaching, some of the lowest-paid jobs) when children are our future?

Being a mother is hard work. Nothing else in my life showed me my own selfishness and need for God’s wisdom and enabling.

But being a mother is also rewarding work. My children aren’t perfect–of course not, coming from an imperfect mother. I pray God makes up for my mistakes with them. But my children are enjoyable people to know and be around.

In everything else I thought about being when I grew up, I always wanted to be a wife and mother as well. I am so thankful God gave me that opportunity.

So to the naysayers I respond: yes, it is worth it to be a mother. I am so grateful for my mother’s investment of time and love in me and for other women who “mothered” me in various ways.

Even as I try to defend and support motherhood, however, I am keenly aware of the pain of some women whose longing for motherhood is an unanswered prayer. God, for reasons only He knows, has not seen fit so far to bring husband and children.

Though motherhood is a blessing, it is not God’s highest calling. God’s highest calling for each woman is to be exactly where God placed her, doing exactly what He called her to do, whether that’s being a teacher, secretary, writer, nurse, or whatever. He can work in and through us to develop Christlikeness and further His kingdom in any number of ways.

Let your father and mother be glad;
    let her who bore you rejoice.
Proverbs 23:25

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

19 thoughts on “Is Being a Mother Worth It?

  1. My heart broke as you were describing the words of the “Unworthy Mother” (my term). My heart broke for not only her unwanted children but for the mother herself. Oh, the wonderful blessing of being a parent she is missing out on because of her selfish, deceived, sin-filled life. I thought too about something that I’ve long believed and that is the most important learning happens at home. This is where right-living is modeled and taught, but it takes more than narrative (spoken or written) to accomplish this. It requires hands-on, concrete examples of right-living from parent and grandparents. In today’s world, it also requires parents to see and know what their children are being taught from external sources (government-mandated indoctrination in schools and the sin-filled world they’re exposed to). If we don’t know what our children and grandchildren are being exposed to outside the home, we can’t counteract it. Great post Ms. Barbara. Thank you! Can’t say much about being a mother except to say that I experienced both ends of the spectrum, and I can tell you from the experience of an adopted child that a godly mother can make a world of difference in the life of a young person. God’s blessings and Happy Mother’s Day ma’am.

    • I first read the article about this regretful mother years ago, and was somewhat shocked. As I read it again last week, I thought it seemed like she didn’t realize at all that kids need training, that they don’t just grow up knowing how to act. Like you said, they need to hear instruction and to see it modeled. And even though we do it imperfectly, we can always point them to God’s grace.

  2. Barbara, I so appreciate this here –> ‘Though motherhood is a blessing, it is not God’s highest calling. God’s highest calling for each woman is to be exactly where God placed her.’

    Amen. So beautifully spoken.

  3. I just love your writing about this topic. How sad the woman must be……how I pray she comes to the Lord and realizes that children, although tough to raise and sometimes they won’t go the way we planned….are a true blessing from God. I read that article you linked us to. Made me so sad. I LOVE being able to have my daughters nearby but I’d be ok with them moving out of state, too. We are emotionally close and both have professed faith in Jesus although right now neither one is in church much, one because of her job on the weekends and the other because she says she stays up too late Sat nights. But I have confidence that although they are no where near perfect, just like i am not, that they are in the Lord’s hands and that Dave and I did the best we could in raising them. And the quote “God’s highest calling for each woman is to be exactly where God placed her”…..marvelous. so true. I was a teen in the late 1970s and all we heard was “girls can do it all”. Yes we can. HOWEVER, I have taught MY girls and other young moms while they were growing up, that yes we CAN do it all (mothering, wife, home management, career, ministries ) but we might not be called to do it all at the same time. There are seasons for us. Some of us worked part time and raised little ones, some of us stayed home in the early childhood years, and some of us went back to full time careers when they got older. I say we, as Christ followers, need to ask the Lord what HE wants for us as moms…..and dads…..and let the Holy Spirit guide us. EXCELLENT post Barbara.

  4. How sad about a woman who is that disappointed and disillusioned about motherhood. Being a mother has been the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life – despite the hard work and all the times I’ve failed along the way, there is nothing else I would have rather poured my time and effort into than parenting. But I greatly appreciate your reminder that motherhood is NOT the highest calling God has for us! It may well be part of our high calling, but it’s not the only way for a woman to glorify God and it’s so important to get those priorities straight. Excellent post!

  5. Excellent thoughts; I enjoyed reading them! Being a mom is the best “job” I’ve ever had; I always wanted to have kids and I appreciate being able to each day, since I was in my 30s before that happened. My mom has said several times that she didn’t want to have kids, which was always incomprehensible to me, but I understand that some women feel that way. There are hardships that come with motherhood for sure — it’s a hard lesson that kids are born with their own ideas and personalities, and that they may not “turn out” as we would have dreamed when they were little. But being able to partner with God in bringing new beings to maturity is such a blessing.

  6. Being a mother to my mind is the greatest gift I have received, and am honored to be a mother to two awesome kids, now grown up, and married with their own kids, thus making me a grandma as well.
    Thank you from your Vroom Vroom Team for sharing your links with us at SSPS. Please check back on Monday to see if your content has been featured.

  7. Yikes … that is quite an article about the French woman who regrets having children. I wonder how her children feel about this. Or how they will feel when they are the age she is now. You’ve pretty much summed up how I feel about being a mom. Getting there wasn’t easy, but as I’ve told my girls, I’d go through it all again if it meant I could be their mom. I don’t know what the empty nest season will hold or feel like, but I’m looking forward to it. And I’m so thankful for moms who have gone before me and are willing to share from their experiences what parenting young adults is like.

    • Yes–it seems like God has always placed moms just before me to encourage me or give counsel about the next stage of life–though sometimes they do so without realizing it.

  8. Barb, so much in your post resonates with me. Is mothering hard? YES. It is worthwhile? DEFINITELY. we prayed for years for the gift of children. And though there have been some really painful seasons, I’ve seen how God has drawn me closer to Himself and taught me humility in the process of being a mother to our sons. I feel sorry for the mother who regrets having children and for her children. I also appreciate your closing about what God’s highest calling is. Yes and amen!

  9. I love your grace here. How you remind us of the value of motherhood while also reminding us that our place is where God has put us. Wonderful post, Barbara!

  10. Pingback: May Reflections | Stray Thoughts

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