The never ending, always expanding, role of mothering

There was something about the role of mothering that came natural to me. It started, perhaps, as granny mothered me in times I only know through photographs. Mama was in seminary where they couldn’t take their kids in those days. Daddy was pastoring a church while mama finished so granny filled the gap and so began a relationship that would keep us connected for long enough for her to see our first baby.

I mothered my dolls. Wrapped them in the blankets and fed them pretend food. The magic bottle that came along was the best invention to my pre-school aged self. I nestled my babies in the crook of my arm while putting the plastic bottle to her plastic lips and watch the pretend milk disappear as if she was drinking it down.
This was mothering. Dressing, feeding, cleaning and comforting my baby dolls.
Motherhood held a few surprises for me, the first of which was not expecting to be so sore in my arms after giving birth. I hadn’t realized how tight I’d gripped the arms of the hospital bed during, what was, an easy delivery.
I didn’t expect how sleep deprived I’d be those first few months and how hard that would be.

church babies

Aunt Connie
We’ve learned to be more inclusive when celebrating mom’s. That’s why I like the word mothering. One doesn’t have to have had children to know how to mother.
Long before Henry’s sister had a child, she babysat for ours. She’d keep them for weekends we attended out of town church functions or anytime we needed her. Her mothering skills were tested on more than one occasion watching our two and I think she handled them better than I would have.
I’ve written about becoming mom to men in recovery and my initial reluctance.
Today, John and Rob will say “hi mom” when they pass me in the hallway. Both men well into their 50’s and the age of my brother. We smile a knowing grin, one that acknowledges the figurative role I’m honored to play.
Our son became friends with the boy across the street. Ivan was 5 years older than Jonathan. Enough that I kept a close eye on things not knowing much about his family other than he and his older brother were latchkey kids. His mom wasn’t comfortable with English so we politely waved across the street to each other. She made conch chowder at her house that our son discovered he liked and I doled out the snacks with a careful eye.
When school was out for the summer Ivan spent longer days in the pool with our kids. With him 11 and our son 6 it wasn’t a friendship I would have encouraged except for kids need mothering. I didn’t try to take his mom’s place or disrespect
 her role. This is what you do when the need is there.
In our group of friends at church we mothered our children together. Our values were the same so our kids knew what to expect no matter whose house they were visiting.
I wonder who you’re mothering? Is it the elderly woman, or man, you see in the grocery store? The one who gets a bit turned around and needs direction?
Are you mothering the neighborhood kids as they run across your lawn to get their ball and welcome their energy?
I’m so thankful for the women who’ve mothered me. For aunt Juanita and Phylis, two women who’ve given the gift of presence and listening. For teachers who nurtured, some with a firm voice and rule. For friends who’ve walked with me in times of parental frustration and who’ve understood a mother’s broken heart.
We didn’t recognize it so much then as community but that’s what we know now. We help raise each other, young and old, sometimes the younger teaching the older and we understand it works better doing this together.
May you find comfort in mothering and being mothered.
May you feel the breath of grace around you as you are nurtured and comforted.
May you shine Jesus in every life you touch.

15 Comments

  1. Mariann McCarthy said:

    Absolutely beautiful! I have always said you are the Mom away from home for all the men at ARC! Happy Mother’s Day Debby! You have that wonderful loving, caring and nurturing instinct that brings comfort and happiness to so many! God Bless and enjoy your Mother’s Day!

    May 11, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      Thank you Mariann. I’m so happy to be part of their lives and I know how your boys both love and appreciate you. I’m thankful for you, friend.

      May 11, 2017
      Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      Thanks Andrew. Isn’t it comforting to know God puts many in our life to mother us? Praying you’re comforted by his love.

      May 11, 2017
      Reply
  2. Anita Ojeda said:

    Such truth here, Debbie! I’ve mothered a lot of kids, but only had two of my own. I’ve also appreciated all the women who have mothered my girls–especially during my husband’s cancer journey.

    May 11, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      What a place of honor God has put you in Anita. May his blessings reach to all of your boys.

      May 11, 2017
      Reply
  3. Amy Boyd said:

    Thank you for your perspective Debby! I am not a mom, but a teacher for 14 years, so I feel like I’ve mothered more than my fair share of children! It’s a blessing to me when others recognize mothering within a community, and the value that it brings. #fmf #6

    May 11, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      Thank you Amy for teaching with your heart and being a surrogate mom to many. May God pour out his blessings on you.

      May 11, 2017
      Reply
  4. I love this line: “One doesn’t have to have had children to know how to mother.” What a beautiful post! I’m over in the 7 spot this week.

    May 12, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      Thanks Tara. Always appreciate your kind words.

      May 12, 2017
      Reply
  5. Annie Rim said:

    I love this so much, Debby. You are absolutely right – you don’t have to birth a baby or live with a tiny human to be a mother. I am so thankful for my friends who help me mother, regardless of marital status or children of their own. Mother’s Day is such a reminder that we aren’t on this journey alone.

    May 12, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      I’m still learning about mothering Annie. Surprised by the grace of it all.

      May 12, 2017
      Reply
  6. Cathy said:

    Great post. I didn’t give birth to our girls. They were adopted. But I’m so thankful for the opportunity I had to raise them.

    May 12, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      You surely understand this opportunity more than I Cathy. Thanks for sharing in the conversation.

      May 12, 2017
      Reply
  7. Susan Shipe said:

    You are right, women do a lot of mothering!! And it looks differently in every situation.

    May 12, 2017
    Reply

Leave a Reply