I have had the privilege in my adult life of observing two extraordinary mothers from relatively close proximity.
These mothers are at different stages in their mothering. One is just beginning her life as a mother, the other has had long years of practice in the gentle art of motherhood. But these women share a number of qualities that make them both beautiful mothers.
Just as we are not all called to be plumbers or brain surgeons, not all women are called to be mothers. But these two women seem to know deep in their being that they have found their true calling. Although the demands of motherhood are often enormously challenging and deeply tiring, these two women have given themselves to the tasks of mothering with absolute commitment and dedication.
There are no doubt times for both these women when it feels as if they have lost themselves in the fulfillment of their demanding call. But, they both have taken to heart Jesus’ statement to his followers that,
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)
Again and again I have watched these women lay down their lives for their children and in the process, I have seen manifest the deep beauty and strength of these women.
It is a blessing to watch two people whose gifts and commitments are in perfect alignment. Everything in these women’s lives works together to equip them for the endless often wearying demands of their calling.
There is one skill these women share that, perhaps more than any other, makes them such amazing mothers. It is a skill we can all offer, and when we do, we all share in the gift of fulfilling the role of “mothers” in peoples lives.
These women are fantastic mothers because they pay attention to their children. They listen deeply to the people their children are. They watch their children and attempt to create an environment in which the unique person each of them is has room to truly flourish.
By listening carefully to their children these women are teaching their children to listen to themselves. Because these children have grown up being heard, they are able to hear themselves.
It is so tempting to feel that we know who a person ought to be. It is easy to lose sight of the unique beauty of each person in the fog of our expectations and demands. But there is an inherent wisdom in each of us, a strength and depth that knows who we truly are. Given a chance, that deep knowing will emerge. This is our true strength.
Jesus articulates this gift to his followers in John’s Gospel when he says,
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:14,15)
Jesus “knows” his sheep. These women “know” their children. They know them fully and deeply and therefore empower them to truly know themselves and become the people they were uniquely created to be.
These children are learning to heed that voice of wisdom within themselves that will guide them to life. They are learning to honour that voice of truth that has the capacity to discern when they are in situations that are life-giving for them and when they are in situations that are not conducive to the full flourishing of their being.
The beauty of hearing our true voice, is that, when we truly hear, we are empowered by that voice to act. The children of these women, are learning to connect with their true strength. They are receiving the gift of true independence. They are learning that they do not have to conform their lives to all the external voices of demand and expectation that attempt to lead them away from the voice of their true selves. They are discovering the source of that real power that will enable them to be the strong, creative, free beings they were created to be.
Jesus says that, when we hear his voice, that voice that speaks truth in the deepest part of our being, we will follow where that voice leads and receive the deep gift that voice desires to impart.
My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:27,28)
The skill of listening is not a skill easily acquired. A child’s ability to communicate is often inarticulate and poorly formed. Truly hearing requires supernatural patience. The parent who wants to listen deeply to her child needs to believe that her child is saying something that is worth hearing and that every word and action is an attempt to communicate.
Motherhood can be frightening. It is so easy to feel poorly equipped for this extraordinary life challenge. Although, they certainly have moments of doubt these women seem to know instinctively that they are equipped for this precious calling. Just as they trust the wisdom that resides in their children, so they trust the wisdom in their own deep being. They know that, as they open to the truth of their deepest being, they receive the gift of wisdom they need and the power to enact that wisdom with their children.
I am so grateful for the powerful gifts of love I observe at work in the lives of these two mothers and the beautiful people they have supported through their mothering.