It’s May, the month we fondly think of motherhood. What images come to your mind when you think of mothers you admire?
When I consider Mother’s Day, I’m always filled with admiration for others who execute this important life role right alongside me. I can honestly say that it has been the toughest and most fulfilling job I have ever possessed. The high stress of the investment industry and special needs ministry barely hold a candle to motherhood in my life. Decisions we make are crucial, the hours grueling, and the relentless work often thankless. A child’s entire future hinges on how we care for them in their most vulnerable and formative years. That’s an awesome, heavy responsibility.
Add to the rigors of typical motherhood the unexpected intricacies of chronic illness or special needs and it’s no wonder some think we deserve superhero capes. The skillset I have acquired since having one child with hemophilia, another with executive functioning, allergy, and orthopedic issues, and yet another with reactive arthritis along with a yet-to-be-diagnosed heart issue is mind-boggling. I now know medical terminology I never even learned in nursing school. Medical and school advocacy are reflexive for me. Proactive planning has become a habit. I can tell you all about insurance, Medicaid, IEPs, 504s, and transition programming. I have done battle with doctors, educators, therapists, service providers, and insurance companies.
Perhaps that battle readiness is what makes me and other mothers like me so reflexively edgy. But WE are not the ones get noticed by others.
The mother who is noticed by others is the one who looks more like Jesus and less like her “mama bear” self. She is like the Proverbs 31 woman in the best sense of the expression—not dripping with sappy perfection but equipped by God, treating others with decency. For example…
- The mother who gets noticed has a noble character and is morally principled in her dealings with others. She does not carry around the demeanor that the world owes her something because her child has difficult challenges. The ordinary mother has a bitter chip on her shoulder that others can see a thousand feet away. Her attitude makes others dread having to work with her.
- The mother who gets noticed is firm but friendly, treating others with the understanding that they are also made in the image of God. Diplomacy is a skill she develops that serves her well throughout her family’s lifetime. The ordinary mother comes into meetings guns a-blazing, treating other humans as if she were a bulldozer. Forget trying to understand one another. Her child comes first.
- The mother who gets noticed may face dark days but finds joy in knowing her final destination. Although she may have many reasons to despair, she keeps moving forward in spite of it. The ordinary mother only finds her hope in the circumstances of this world. Because her life is so difficult, she has nothing but a grim outlook.
- The mother who gets noticed realizes that God holds her family in the palm of His hand. Her security and peace come from knowing that He has it all under control even though her family’s circumstances may feel very out of control. The ordinary mother is beyond stressed because she is constantly trying to gain control of her family’s very out-of-control life. Because this is a game she can never win, this mother is constantly depleted and exhausted.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be the mother who people notice. When they notice me, I can point them to Jesus. I don’t want people to dread being around me. I want them to find something refreshingly different by being in my presence.
Parenting a child with unique challenges and abilities gives you and I a rare platform to put God’s glory on display. We can be hope ambassadors when we look more like Jesus and less like our cranky, demanding selves. It is difficult to give others hope and refute stereotypes when we surrender to our own toxic behavior and attitudes.
What will you look like this Mother’s Day? Will people see a smile on your face despite having every reason to frown? Will others find a breath of fresh air in you? Or will they refrain from answering your call when they see your number incoming as the phone rings?
The same Glorious Light that bust Jesus out of that dark, hopeless, cold grave lives in YOU, believing parent! Now go live like it.