by Sarah Hemingway
Have you ever thought about mothers throughout the ages and what we all have in common?
In addition to stretch marks and tales of extended labor, there seem to be certain things we share in this special sorority of motherhood. We all reach moments of revelation in our lives when we suddenly realize, “I sound just like my mother!”
Many of us swore it would never happen. One of the first times that occurred to me was when I heard myself saying to my children, “Because I said so, that’s why!”
Moms have a very important job teaching safety rules. It is our responsibility to impart eternal truths to our children because they, in turn, have the burden of passing these “truths” on to their children.
For example, every child must be warned that if you cross your eyes, they will sooner or later stick just like that and stay crossed for the rest of your life.
Children need to learn at an early age that clean underwear is a must, in case they are in an automobile accident and have to go to the hospital. Surely they understand that there’s an official in the emergency room who divides patients into “clean underwear” and “dirty underwear” categories. Only the former receives prompt medical attention.
And there are principles of good nutrition. If you drink all of your milk, it will make your hair curly (or straight, depending on which style you don’t have but want very badly). Cleaning your plate somehow keeps a starving child in a distant country from going to bed hungry that night (think of the starving Martians and eat your spinach!).
Developing strange dietary habits throughout the years, moms hide in bathrooms to eat chocolate, and they test out special “treats” on Mother’s Day. I remember the year our girls decided to serve me breakfast in bed; the “cinnamon toast” would have been delicious, except that they thought the can of nutmeg was cinnamon. Between large gulps of milk, I enthusiastically praised them for their wonderful cuisine.
Mothers are evolving creatures. They begin by adoring their new babies with coos of “Isn’t she beautiful?” and later find themselves saying, “I’m not going to tell you again!” They dream of someday wearing a clean white blouse, which will still be free of stains by the time they get to wherever they’re going.
Mothers could teach our world leaders some great negotiating skills from what they’ve learned in checkout lines; how do you refuse to buy candy, gum, and crayons and still keep the peace?
I thought my mom was brilliant because she understood which way was left and which was right; how can you know that? And how could she pour all that “stuff” in a bowl and produce delicious cookies within the hour? Mothers solve the mystery about which are ordinary days and which are birthdays, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day. A child wonders how in the world we discern these things (sometimes we amaze ourselves!).
And so it goes. We grow and learn and pass on to our children the legacy of motherhood and all that comes with it. “Don’t go swimming until an hour after you’ve eaten,” and “it’s all fun and games until someone puts an eye out!” Mothers’ first aid ensures that kissing a boo-boo will truly make it better, and we know that cartoon Band-Aids have twice the healing power of plain ones. We rise up early and go to bed late, and sometimes the laundry even gets finished.
In every generation we mothers share the awesome responsibility of raising children to know and love and walk with our Lord. We share with our mothers and grandmothers the experiences of nursing our children’s fevers, cheering their accomplishments, and constantly kneeling before our God in their behalf.
Our Lord cares enough to give us this sense of family, tradition, and connectedness as we seek to walk with him and to be the godly mothers of our own generation, alive with the encouragement, consolation, praise, and laughter of one another. Yes, it is a wonderful sisterhood indeed!
“The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation” (Ps. 33:11 NASB).
“. . .God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deut. 7:9 NASB).
Sarah Hemingway is the mother of four grown children. She writes and speaks on the hilarious and sobering challenges of raising a happy Christian family. Sarah is the widow of LtCol Tom Hemingway, USMC, Ret., former director of ROTC ministries for OCF.