The Maker of Me: Honoring Mothers

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Living Stones Series: First Published in All Around Old Bridge Publication – May 2017

By Pastor Lloyd Pulley

Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors who ever lived, was a surprisingly poor student in school.  At the age of seven, Edison had only spent a few months in a cramped one-room schoolhouse when his teachers felt that educating him in a school setting was of little use. 

Edison’s mother decided to homeschool the young inventor, who attributed much of his success to her sacrifice and training.  In fact, he later said, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me, and I felt I had someone to live for, someone I must not disappoint.” 

Edison went on to innovate the phonograph, the incandescent light bulb, the world’s first industrial research laboratory, and some of the world’s earliest motion picture cameras.  Imagine the impact that this one mother had not only on her son, but also on all future generations, all over the globe. Oh that we would once again celebrate mothers, those unsung heroes, those incredible “makers of me.”

Research proves the immeasurable value of mothering.  Mothers are critical to the emotional, behavioral, intellectual, and social development of their children.  For example, studies have found that young children spending more time away from their mothers tend to have greater levels of defiance, disobedience, and aggression, that leads to future criminal misconduct.  Not surprisingly, these findings are consistent throughout all socioeconomic strata.

Family expert Steve Biddulph sums it up this way, “It now appears that mother-baby interaction, in the first year especially, is the very foundation of human emotions and intelligence. In the most essential terms, love grows the brain. The capacities for what make us most human – empathy, co-operation, intimacy, the fine timing and sensitivity that makes a human being charismatic, loving, and self-assured – are passed from mother to baby, especially if that mother is herself possessed of these qualities, and supported and cared for, so that she can bring herself to enjoy and focus on the task.”

History underscores the point.  Mothers have for generations sacrificially given of themselves for the sake of their families.  As early as the third century AD, early church father John Chrysostom said, “Higher than a painter, sculptor, than all artists is he who is skilled in art of forming the soul of a child.” 

Perhaps the most famous mother of all time, Mary the mother of Jesus, epitomized this picture of sacrifice, laying aside her own youth, comforts, plans, and ultimately experiencing the greatest pain any mother can face – watching her own son die.  Theodore Roosevelt described the picture of such sacrificial mothering perfectly, saying, “Mothers, and not churches or theological seminaries, make the faith of people.”

In short, mothering matters.  It always has.  While it seems I am stating the obvious, the fact is, mothering has been marginalized in past decades.  To some, having and raising children, and especially choosing to do so as a stay-at-home mom, is seen as a detriment to the progress of women in society.  Perhaps no writer states this position more clearly than Amy Glass, in her article, “I Look Down On Young Women With Husbands And Kids And I’m Not Sorry.” She writes, “Do people really think that a stay at home mom is really on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself?  You will never have the time, energy, freedom, or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids.”

While her position is extreme, the underlying sentiment seems to have traction in our culture.  Many believe that the only true fulfillment for women lies in career and personal pursuits, and that mothering is the ultimate foil to such fulfillment.

And yet, I return to the examples of Mary the mother of Jesus, Nancy Edison, and countless others.  Through their sacrifice, mothers change the very world as we know it.  To quote the Arabic proverb, “The mother is a school; if she is well reared, you are sure to build a nation.”

We celebrate Mother’s Day this month, and it bears remembering, motherhood is perhaps the single most influential, even revolutionary role in our culture.  Women can be anything, but only women can be mothers.  Having grown up without a mother but witnessing the tremendous sacrifices of my grandmother, who raised me and my three sisters after raising five daughters of her own, I can personally attest to the indescribable importance of motherhood in shaping the next generation.  

What great responsibility, what great influence, what great hope for our nation, when ALL mothers – single mothers, married mothers, grandmothers, step-mothers, adoptive mothers, foster mothers, mothers of children living or gone, and all other mothers – are once again celebrated and supported.  Perhaps the best gift we can give mothers this Mother’s Day is in celebrating their lives, in encouraging fathers to practice true fatherhood, and in teaching children to once again duly honor mom, this very “maker of me.”

Aaron Salvato