May 012016 14 Responses

Motherhood Is Not the Highest Calling

It sounds like something Hallmark would write in a card–“Motherhood is the highest calling of your life.” It’s definitely something syrupy preachers say as they grapple for words on Mother’s Day Sunday. It might be a common feeling as a new mother holds her child for the first time.

But it’s not true.

It’s well-intended. It feels good. But it’s a lie and every lie does damage. This lie is no different.

No doubt motherhood is important. From the obvious–we wouldn’t be here without them–to the equally true realities that most moms make us kinder, cleaner, and more respectful than we would be without them. (See: How to Be a Super Mom)

Motherhood is important. Probably far more important than we realize.

  • Too many kids grow up not knowing their mom because addiction robs the woman of her ability to mother.
  • Others have the early years stolen from them as our consumerist society makes it near impossible for a mother to spend quality time with their child in the first few years of life.
  • Still, others are too busy doing the job of both mother and father because too many men fail to take responsibility for their actions.

Because of the importance of motherhood, moms should be valued, honored, and esteemed. But they should not be lied to. So often when we fail to properly view a role or person, in reaction to our miscalculation, others swing the pendulum of recognition too far the other way. In an attempt to honor the honorable, they overstate the true condition of the people they are trying to recognize.

This has happened to motherhood. As some have undervalued moms, others have overstated the importance of mothers and motherhood naming it “the most important calling in life.”

I understand their intent. They want mothers to understand the value of their task. They want to encourage moms to endure the tough times and understand their sacrifice is worth it. They desire for society to honor motherhood the way it should be honored.

Their purpose is good, but the byproduct of their overstatement is not. (See: Try Not to Curse During the Baby Dedication)

If motherhood is the most important calling in life, what does that say about being a woman? About her value as a human? About those who have not had children?

Could it be that in the overstatement of motherhood, we actual devalue women–all women?

If motherhood is the highest calling, it’s fair to deduce that a woman who has not had a child is of less value than those who have. A mother who has struggled to find success in mothering is failing in life in comparison to those who have raised good kids. A woman who who loves her children but who doesn’t necessarily enjoy every aspect of motherhood is flawed.

Of course none of these are true, yet they are easy conclusions when a woman hears someone speaking of motherhood in such lofty terms.

The Truth About Motherhood

The truth is that motherhood is very important. It’s a vital role in society and we need women who can play the role well. But there is more to life than just motherhood. It’s important, but it is just one aspect of life. It’s not more valued than the role of wife or daughter or citizen or friend. Only women can be mothers but women can play many roles other than mother.

If you (or the circumstances of life) have chosen not to have children, you are no less of a woman than a mom of three.

If you have never fully embraced the role of motherhood with the joy of some of your friends, you are not a failure–as a mother or a woman.

If your children aren’t heading in the direction you desire, you aren’t to be less valued because of their choices.

Saying motherhood is the highest calling in life is a syrupy line meant to evoke sentimental feelings; don’t be discouraged by the syrup. Tell yourself the truth. (See: Obey Your Mother, Respect My Wife)

The highest calling in life is for you to be whom God created you to be. To embrace whatever season of life you are in and to live that season to its fullest. If motherhood is a part of that–live it well. If that’s an empty nest–embrace it. If that’s a life without children–walk tall. Yet never let the number of dependents you have, or don’t have, be the defining factor of your life.

Even if you are in the throws of raising children, understand your call to motherhood is of no greater importance than your call to be a wife. It’s not of a higher pursuit than your need to be yourself. It doesn’t fully trump every other role in your life. It’s an important part of who you are, but it’s not everything.

We need to thank moms more than we do. We need to help them more than we have. And we need to value them in every way possible. But we do not need to lie to them. Motherhood is an important calling; it’s not the highest calling.


14 Responses to Motherhood Is Not the Highest Calling
  1. […] Compassionately, I tried to listen, but I knew her fear was unnecessary. The love would come. I neve...
  2. […] Sidebar — I still subscribe to the idea that Motherhood is not the Highest Calling. […]...

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