I remember my morning break well that day. I pulled out my peach and began to cut up my breakfast. At about that time, three other nurses came into the break-room, chatting away. All three of them had just sent off their oldest child the week before to college.
I realized just how the three of them perfectly represented three different types of mothers. By the end of their conversation, I hoped to be like one of them, feared I would end up like the one most like me, but would settle to at least be like the third one–somewhere in the middle.
The three stories went a little something like this:
Mother A: Three weeks ago, mother A and her daughter spent an entire week packing, shopping and making long-distance rules for college. They then made the five hour drive to her college. The mother spent all day helping her daughter unload and unpack at her dorm. She then made dinner for her and her roommates. After dinner, they all went to bed–even the mother. She stayed with her daughter for two weeks to help her acclimate. Mother A had just driven home yesterday (Sunday). Today was the first day of college for her daughter, and I’d already heard her make a phone call and leave a message.
Mother B: Mother B consoles Mother A and I can see that she is actually a bit relieved. She shares her story. On Friday, she drove her daughter to college. She spent the day helping her daughter unpack. Then they stayed in a hotel room together where they stayed up late discussing Mother B’s college experiences. When they got up Saturday morning, she drove her daughter back to her dorm, and hugged her good-bye. She called her daughter yesterday (Sunday) before church to encourage her, but hadn’t talked to her since.
Mother C: At this point Mother A and B are both crying, and look at Mother C. Mother C states, “I think I’m a bad mom.” All is quiet, and I ask, “How could you ever say that?” I know Mother C. She is a pediatric NP whom I have the highest respect for and there is no other nurse anywhere I would want at my side during a pediatric emergency than this nurse. Her daughter is the only teenager I have ever or am ever likely to leave my children with. How could she think she’s a bad mother? She stared at her feet and said, “[Daughter’s name] and her friends packed the car Friday night. I gave her the keys Saturday morning, gave her a hug and said, “Call me if you have time!” Her and her daughter have exchanged several text messages since then, but no phone calls.
These three mothers sum up most good mothers I know.
Mother A is the mother who can’t let her baby go. She wants the best for her, and if that means that she is at her side all the time to make sure she is there to pick her up when she falls, she will. This is the mother I identify most with–and the one I fear I will be.
Mother C is the mother who has raised such a strong daughter that she is not worried her daughter will make bad decisions. And if she does? Well then, she’s only a phone call away when she’s ready. This is the mother I want to be. This is the strong child I want to raise.
Mother B is somewhere in between. I have doubts that I could ever be Mother C, so my aim is just to make it to Mother B.
Which mother do I believe Jesus wants us to be?
There is nothing wrong with any of these mothers from our world’s view. All three mothers love their children dearly. All three want the best for their children. And although I think my aim would be more toward Mother B, I think this is really the one God least want us to be.
Let me explain.
Mother A is making sure her daughter is doing things the right way. The old testament is full of the Lord’s warnings to teach our children His way–and to make sure they obey it.
You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.… Deuteronomy 6:7-8
Mother A is taking Deuteronomy very seriously.
Mother C on the other hand, is raising strong arrows.
For arrows to be most effective, they need to be sharp. They need to be straight. And the controller needs good aim–she needs to give perfect instructions. And when she has sharpened and straightened out her arrows, she pulls back strong and confident. When her aim is perfect, she lets go.
I get goosebumps thinking about that. She lets go and lets the arrows fly–fast–completely out of sight. And she has complete confidence that her arrows have landed where they should.
The making straight of the arrow is done by a mother’s strong upbringing of her child. The sharpening is done by the Word of God. The aim a mother takes is the Lord’s. And when that child is ready and willing and the mother is ready to let go with confidence, that arrow flies way out into the world. Where it lands we may not know. It may be so out of sight that it is hard for us to fathom. But if it was done correctly, it is right where God wanted it to be.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed When they speak with their enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:4-5
Mother C is taking the Psalms seriously.
While Mother B sounds like the safe one, I worry that she is complacent. She has taught her child the necessary tools. She has delivered her child to her destination. Was the child completely ready?
If this mother is passive and trying to let her child learn on her own, will the daughter be strong enough to handle temptations? Will she be strong enough to choose Godly decisions when the world around her so strongly pushes her to make worldly decisions? Mother A would be pushing her toward the right decision. Mother C has ingrained the right decision in her already. I suppose only circumstance will show how Mother B’s child will respond…
I fear being Mother A. Because it appears she controlls everything. I assume this is just motherly smothering and love that causes her to do it–so is it really that bad? If I am Mother A, will my children ever learn to make her heir own decisions without me?
So then I want to be Mother C. I want to be able to raise arrows for the Lord. Someday I want to unleash them, shoot them out into the world and do big things for God. But I can’t imagine letting go of my children and not having every one of them within my reach at all times.
So this leaves me wanting to settle for Mother B. I want to raise them gently, and just trust they will acclimate to the world and see if they make good decisions. After all, that is what this world is pushing for, right? This is the comfortable mother–the one accepted by the world.
But do I really want to be accepted by the world? Or do I want to obey God–which is ultimately the best thing for them and for me?
It’s going to be a long road. Mother C, here I come. Pray for me Friends.