What is the value of a mother? Is it her cooking? The hours she puts into cleaning? How she cares for the newborn night and day?
I’m sure you’ve seen the articles shared around Facebook claiming that a stay at home parent is worth close to $100k annually. It’s not too far fetched to see that if you contracted out all the cooking, cleaning, teaching, clothing care, side projects, and transportation that a lot of mothers do you’d hit that mark.
On one hand, it is great to see a number on something typically so hidden. There’s a sense of vindication. “See! I do more than just sit around all day. Ha!” It feels good to have a number on something that is done by most mothers so thanklessly. Those articles can make us feel noticed, appreciated. Sure we don’t ever see that paycheck, but knowing that other people can finally see what we are worth is good enough.
On the other hand, I wonder why we need to put numbers on something that is so invaluable. It’s obvious if I had to pay someone to care for my kids all day there would be a quantifiable number on that. Daycare costs something and what they do is very good.
But motherhood has always been more than just things on a to-do list, easily done by anyone. It’s not just cooking a meal. It’s the shared moments in the kitchen as we hand down our family traditions and idiosyncrasies and laughs. It’s not just following a good bedtime routine. It’s the gentle back rub and silent prayers over a fussy toddler trying to fall asleep, giving him the reassurance that all is well in the world.
It’s the strength and power that comes from maternal gentleness and presence. It’s something not easily replaced, if that’s even possible.
Motherhood ought to shatter the very thought that what we do has a price tag.
This reality has always stirred in my heart as I’ve grown into this vocation, but this week as we come close to Mother’s Day, I was praying with Scripture and it hit me in a new way.
I was reading through some of St. Paul’s letters and as he begins a letter to Timothy with thanksgiving and praise, he says this:
“I yearn to see you again, recalling your tears, so that I may be filled with joy, as I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and that I am confident lives also in you” (2 Timothy 1:4-5).
Do you see that? St. Paul, a warrior for Christ, talking to Timothy, a stouthearted champion of the faith, commenting that the great faith he had was due to the maternal lineage.
Don’t get me wrong, fathers are irreplaceable and as head of the household carry a very unique burden on carrying on the faith in their families.
But mother touches the eternal.
I heard once that children will naturally follow the faith of their mothers and the actions of their fathers.
That’s my reflection this weekend. My faith and how I pass it on to my children has a direct effect on their holiness. There is no price tag on that lofty and serious calling.
It’s also a great time to reflect on my own mother and grandmother – the unweary faith they handed on to me. Their presence and love and prayer.
To all mothers out there, thank you. Thank you for all you do day in and day out. But more than that, thank you for responding to God’s call to hand on the faith in season and out of season. Thank you for loving Jesus and leading the way to His Heart for your children. Thank you for being mother after the example of Mary.