I started this project because I realized that in my thirty-ahem-something years, I have been positively influenced by many women, but I have also had the joy to be able to encourage and mentor others as well. I believe that women were designed by God for close relationships…not just with their spouses and biological or adopted children, but with all kinds of other people. As women, we problem-solve through communication, find comfort and are encouraged by community and we are wired for emotional attachment, nurturing and taking care of others. It is my sincere belief that you do not have to have a child to be a mother. A mother is simply a woman who loves, guides, supports and reassures someone else, regardless of relation, legality or age. So in that regard, every woman is a mother and we were made to mother.
The opportunity to mother follows us throughout our lives and we all have our own unique and moving stories about the women who mothered us and the people we have a chance to mother as well. These stories are inspiring and heartwarming and whether they move us to laughter or to tears, they exude a powerful message of hope and ignite a spirit of comradery among women on the huge and diverse battlefield that we call ‘a mother’s love.’
This made me think that there should be a place where women can come together, even if it is through a computer screen. A place where women can read about each other’s trials and triumphs and feel encouraged, uplifted and find strength in that they are not alone; that someone else has experienced the joys or heartaches they are going through and be refreshed and renewed knowing there are others out there with the same struggles. That there is life on the other side! Stories of motherhood and the bond of womankind can be like that. Since the beginning of time, women have been encouraged, supported and influenced by other women. I want to share those stories.
I’ll kick this off by sharing mine and I hope that perhaps you’ll let me share yours.
I am who I am today because of several women’s impact on me over the course of my entire life; first, by my own mother, who I followed around and idolized as most little girls do. I wanted to watch and help with everything she did whether it was cooking, cleaning or the way she lived her life. As I grew, so did the number of influential “mothers” for me; babysitters, aunts, other girls’ moms, teachers and the cool, teenage girls that I looked up to and wanted to be just like. As I grew into young adulthood, I found more women to admire; famous personalities, my new sister-in-law and older friends that I could turn to for advice and mentoring. Sometimes it was just an acquaintance or someone I hardly knew that would be in my life for only a brief time, but, even today, I could say they had a large impact on the adult I would become. And, even now, I am still being impacted every day by the women I interact with, shaping who I will become tomorrow and years down the road.
My own evolution into motherhood started when I was very young. I grew up the youngest child in my immediate family and as such, I never got to experience having younger siblings to take care of. That always sort of bothered me, so I made up for it by pretending that my dolls, younger cousins and some of my little friends were my little sisters and brothers. While my peers and I dreamed of being doctors, astronauts or ballerinas when we grew up, new dreams came and went, but the thing that always stuck in the back of my mind was to become a wife and mother. Even as a young kid, I loved small children. In middle school, I began volunteering in my church’s nursery and babysitting for family friends. By high school, I had several, regular families that I babysat weekly and I spent many hours imagining the man of my dreams, our wedding and finally, the family of 3 or 4 kids that we would have and raise together.
At one point when I was a young teenager, Elisabeth Elliot, famous author and wife to martyred missionary Jim Elliot, came to our church to speak at a ministry to women conference. My mom and I attended her session themed, “Called To Be Mothers.” She said to us that all women in some way are called by God to be mothers and that it, more than any other job, is the highest esteemed profession we could ever receive. No matter how young or how old we are, whether we marry and have children of our own or not, that calling never expires. It simply shifts to fit a different part to play in different people’s lives, but whatever the role, being a mother to someone will always come out of it. It is how we were created; it is what we are called to be.
Even as a child, Ms. Elliot’s words rang so clear to me and only strengthened my resolve in the life I wanted some day. Of course, in true immature young adult fashion, I was distracted from this goal many times over the next few years. But even amidst high school graduation, college days, frat parties, sorority rush, college graduation and first jobs, the desire to follow my calling to be a mother was always in the back of my mind. I would examine my life and ask myself, would this boyfriend be my future husband? Is this city a good place to raise a family? Would this job hire me if they knew I plan to quit as soon as I have our first baby?
There were a couple of undeniable setbacks in my ideal situation. As a freshman in college at 18, I thought I had found “the one,” but after a series of bad choices and inevitable consequences, I ended up suspended from school, broken hearted and back home with my parents. I dated other guys, made more foolish choices and got pregnant at 20. It was not the way I had imagined my family would start, nor was it with the man of my dreams. I was still in college so had no home to raise the baby in, aside from my parent’s, or a job to support it. As such, it was not an option in my mind to keep the baby and I never even considered raising it as my own. I knew there was a good family out there and when I found them and placed him in their arms and they took him home, I did not grieve about being unable to keep him. I was his mother, but he was not mine to keep; my role in his life was to simply carry him for someone else. You can read more about that story here.
I learned from that experience that I wanted to have a family the right way, so I worked harder and prayed more fervently for that to happen one day. I wish I could say that I never made any more mistakes, but of course that wouldn’t be true. However, I did get the wonderful pleasure to mother in other ways. I continued to volunteer as a mentor to young kids in my church and a cabin counselor at my favorite summer youth camp. And, eventually I became an aunt, which was the best and most favorite mothering role up until that time.
When I met my husband and had children of our own, I felt my mama-heart complete being able to do what I had dreamt long ago; stay home and raise them each day. Of course it is by no means an easy job. Sometimes I feel like it is as full of frustration and helplessness as it is joy and happiness. I am by no means a perfect mother. I make mistakes and have to ask for my children’s forgiveness daily, but I have never felt a love for anyone in the way I feel love for my children. It is indescribable. I would do anything, become anyone and sacrifice everything for them. When they hurt physically or emotionally, I literally feel the same pain in my heart. And when their little faces light up with excitement, joy or happiness at a new discovery, accomplishment or thrill, I am right there with them, experiencing it for the first time again.
As our children grow and we add to our community of neighbors and friends, I continue to have the pleasure of mothering others. From the kids I get to teach and play with in Sunday school at church, to helping a friend by watching her kids, or even being able to encourage young adults and mothers that I meet through doing life with others. I am living the calling that I had as a young girl and continuing the legacy of motherhood I received by the women who in many ways were mothers to me. And I enjoy being able to pass the torch of motherhood on to my own daughters and the other girls and young women I meet, just as we are called by scripture to do in Titus 2:4. I also hope to accomplish this through the Made to Mother Project, by allowing women all over the world to share and be encouraged and inspired by the diverse stories of different kinds of mothers. Would you like to add your voice? If so, I would love to hear from you! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and for more information about Made to Mother or to read the many amazing stories that have already been submitted, please visit the website, www.madetomother.com.