What I want to say to you has nothing to do with whether or not you work outside the home, inside the home, stay at home with your children, send them to boarding school, or public school, or private school or homeschool. What I want to say isn't dependent on whether your life looks like mine or affirms my life choices. It doesn't matter whether those children of yours grew in your womb, or grew in your heart and in the womb of another; whether you had the chance to hold your babies or had to say goodbye to them far too soon. What I want to say to you is simply based on what I know to be a Truth, one with a very intentional capital "T," as it is one of those truths that simply is.
You are a mother, and that matters.
There was a time when us women did not have very many choices. We could be wives and mothers, or nurses, teachers or secretaries. Brave and unrefined were the women who sported pants and dared to stand up and say something ought to be different. We are more than bodies to bear children, hands to cook and clean. We are bright and thoughtful and wonderful creatures and you should set us free in the world. Just you wait and see what we can do.
And we did. We cast off the shackles of cultural expectations and changed things. And in very many ways, this is good. Free will is one of the cornerstones of human existence, granted to us by God Himself, and not tread upon even by Him. A woman today has choices in things she would not have once had. She can be so very many things, do so very many things.
But regardless of what you tell people you "do", mothers - you matter.
Somewhere along the way, things went off course. The choice became the expectation. The superwoman can do it all! The truth hits us hard in the face, as we realize something is amiss with that vision. The right choice for one may not be the right choice for another. But instead of that being OK, there is judgment, or the fear of judgment.
What was once a cry for liberation has become a cry of confusion. If I stay home with my children, am I worth less than my sister who earns a salary? If I work and earn money, am I neglecting my kids to do so?
With either choice, you matter.
There is no one like a mother. She fills a certain place in a person's heart that simply cannot be filled by anyone else. Ask anyone who has lost her. It feels much like the phantom itching of an amputee, reaching out to scratch a leg that is no longer there. She was so enormous, so important and irreplaceable, when she is gone, the loss is breathtaking. I know this because my husband knows. She is gone, and he will never be the same.
You, dear mother, you are the boo-boo kisser, lullaby singer, fixer of broken trucks and builder of paper airplanes. You are the one they go to in the night when their tummy hurts; the one they snuggle up with on the couch in their most innocent, tender moments. You are their strength, their soft place to land, their roots and their wings. You are a piece of your children that no one else will ever be. And that matters. It matters to your children in ways that you might not realize. It matters to those around you, as you pour yourself into your children, loving them and nurturing them, teaching them and molding them.
You may go your whole mothering life and never get the thanks you deserve. The people around you might never understand or appreciate what it is you do. Or they might. But your worth, your value, your dignity as a person don't hinge on them. It isn't the size of your paycheck or the grades your kids get that make you worthy. You are worthy simply because you are, because you exist. You are a totally unique and irreplaceable human being and God loves you with a love that defies the understanding of our comparatively small hearts.
And your children? They love you almost that much.
However it is that you fill your days; whatever you'd write on a resume or in a letter to an old friend - you matter. You matter to those kids who call you Mommy. The very mundane tasks of caring for a family are so very, very valuable. The hard and unglamorous work of mothering - the dirty diapers, soccer games, messy faces, misplaced socks, piles of laundry, snotty noses, Curious George books, and toys on the floor - those things feel so terribly ordinary, and yet are so terribly important.
Mothers, you are the glue that holds us all together. With your love and care, each generation of humans rise up to inhabit this earth. It is at your hands, and figurative apron strings, that these little people grow up and become our replacements. That matters.
You matter. And the next time you question your worth, question your decisions or question your value, look into the eyes of one of those extraordinary little people you gave your heart to, and I promise you, you will see it. You'll see that you matter, and that what you do has value and great worth.