Practising Mother Culture allows us to find the right things which refresh our souls, for the benefit of those around us and for our personal peace, joy, contentment, and physical wellbeing.RENEE EMERSON
In a world which is pulling us away from the sacred calling of Motherhood, and misleading us to believe that our freedom as women is found in what we do and how much money we earn, we need to go against the grain and embrace Motherhood in the way that the Lord intended. This means embracing the sacrificial purpose of motherhood.
To “sacrifice” means; To give away (something valuable) for the purpose of gaining something else.
So, I decided if I could summarize “Sacrificial Motherhood” in a simple phrase, it would be something along the lines of this;
“To joyfully give away part of ourselves for the purpose of influencing our family, to gain something even greater in the end”.
It sounds like a lovely ideal – but what does this actually look like while we are trudging through the everyday battles of life? And how can we do this well?
Get Perspective and put Motherhood in its Proper Place;
What does it profit a mother to gain the whole world, and loose her children’s souls?SALLY CLARKSON MARK 8:36 PARAPHRASE
We were not all created to become “homeschool mums”, but if you are a mother, your most significant calling in life is motherhood – not your career, your ministry, or your passions – but your children.
There are many good things we can invest our time in, but as mothers, we should intentionally invest the best part of ourselves into the right things, which includes our children and husbands first and foremost.
This task entrusted to us, is far too great to leave at the hands of another. These children have been gifted to you – because there is no other women who can mother them as you can.
Motherhood in all its beauty and joy, is also the most tiring, repetitive, and burdensome task, requiring an immeasurable amount of sacrifice. We can become riddled with fear; fear that we are doing it all wrong, fear that our children will make mistakes, fear that someone will hurt our children (or worse, that we will hurt them), or maybe even fear of missing out on better things. It is not wrong to be afraid, but we do need to tackle our fear by turning it into faith, and with our hearts no longer fearful we can confront motherhood, knowing we are equipped by the one who called us to the task in the first place.
There is an attack on motherhood. In a society where the sacredness of motherhood is utterly devalued, we will not be praised for embracing truly sacrificial motherhood. But did you know that there is one who values motherhood, who truly cherishes mothers, and who knows exactly what you sacrifice to give your best to your little ones?
One of my favorite names for God is El Roi; the God who sees me. God sees your sacrificial motherhood and His heart rejoices. We can try and seek validation from our children, spouses, friends, and family – yet it will fall short, because the only one who can truly appreciate all we do is the one “who see’s us”, the one who is there for us in every secret moment of the day, who created motherhood, and understands what it is we are enduring.
Practice “Mother Culture”
Mother Culture is the skilful art with which a mother looks after the ways of her household and herself. In her home she creates a culture all her own with a mingling of love and responsibility. A mother does a lot of taking care, so she also takes care of herself. So much depends on how she manages her life.KAREN ANDREOLA
One thing which has always stood out to me from this quote is the significance of “A mother does a lot of taking care, so she also takes care of herself.” Learning to take care of ourselves as mothers can be difficult – but truthfully, I did not thrive in my motherhood calling until I learned this valuable skill.
Let us clarify something first though – there is a very big difference between Mother Culture and “zoning out” at the end of a hard day (which does not replenish our souls to any capacity), or being too self-focused at the neglect of our families. Practising Mother Culture allows us to find the right things which refresh our souls, for the benefit of those around us and for our personal peace, joy, contentment, and physical wellbeing.
Charlotte Mason said; “If mothers could learn to do for themselves, what they do for their children… we would have happier households.” What is it you do for your children, which you could perhaps do for yourself? We can often pour so much time and energy into running around taking our children to sports and activities, setting up craft, organising playdates with our children’s friends – yet we do not spend any time doing these activities for ourselves.
It is time to be intentional with our time and make plans for ourselves. Do you love a sport? Why not find a team to join and make space for yourself to exercise, be energised and play – just as you do for your children. Do you love handicrafts, like knitting or scrapbooking? When we set up things for our children, why don’t we set up our own place at the table to enjoy creating also? Do you enjoy painting? Find a little place near the warm sunny window and set up an easel for yourself – we need to take intentional steps towards creating the time and spaces for us to really ‘do’ Mother Culture.
For myself, its reading, all kinds of books, every day. As well as journaling, blogging, and pouring my heart into my women’s book club ministry. As a homeschooling mother of four (and another on the way!), I hear your anxiety about not having the time – the needs of my children seem to fill every hour of every day. I am in the home for 12-13 hours per day without my husband. The load of preparing classes and managing our home is great. Yet, I have come to understand that even 10 minutes of Mother Culture on a busy day can reset my weary heart. Pausing to read a poem, sitting at the table with a hot coffee in my hand, or writing a few thoughts down on a page is enough to refresh my soul.
I am realistic about my Mother Culture time – creating realistic expectations are essential to avoid disappointment. During the morning I set aside time before school to read my Bible at our kitchen table – the heart of our home – and sip a hot drink. My “quiet time” to pray, think, read, and ponder is in theory from 8am-9am. The children are in the habit of ‘knowing’ this is quiet time and enjoy playing together. Yet, I often must fight the urge to do seemingly more important tasks – such as the dishes, tidying, laundry, and everything else screaming at me to get done! Some days, these tasks win, and my body and soul feel the consequences. There is also the reality that even when I get to the table, I may be interrupted 5,000 times by needy children. All these things make Mother Culture a constant battle, yet with determination, persistence, and intention – it can be achieved, and my heart is so refreshed because of these habits. I am a better mother, wife, and friend, when I can prioritise time for replenishing my own soul. The dishes can simply wait, while I very deliberately tend to my heart – and therefore the hearts of my children.
Mother Culture will look quite different for each of us, but I would like each of us to think about what our Mother Culture might be and how we can adjust our lives to ensure this healthy habit can be formed.
We can pour our heart and souls into many good things, while still neglecting our little ones. Let us never forget that our family – especially our children – are our most important mission. It is very hard to strike the perfect balance between busy and idle. But we must remember we cannot do everything well, sometimes we must choose to say no to good things, to be able to say yes to the right things.
But what are the “right” things? The answer is simple – a balance of work, rest, and play. Do we have a healthy balance of these things? How can we know? Often to find where our heart is at, we can simply check our calendars and see what it is we are pouring our energy into. You may find that you are too idle and have an excess of play time, or that you are striving in your work and making rest impossible.
It’s easy to neglect the important things – such as playing with our children or taking a quiet moment to recalibrate – by allowing the more seemingly pressing tasks of the day to take over. There is a very real warfare present as we are tricked into thinking zoning out is more important than intentionally filling up our emotional cups. Idleness can be a symptom of believing rest comes from “zoning out” instead of plugging into those “Mother Culture” activities which can be a source of strength.
To ensure we have a healthy balance of work, rest, and play, we can start by remembering ‘busyness’ is a false God that the world worships – but we do not have too. We can put aside quality time for those who are dear to us (our children, husband, church family) as well as being willing to serve others with our time. Most importantly we can put aside intentional time to sit in the presence of our God, who fills up our tanks, nourishes our souls; providing for our every need.
We have been taught that its selfish to say “no”, but to live fully present in the now with our children, husband, family, and friends – we must learn the very healthy habit of saying “NO” and embrace the gift of selecting what our priorities should be, without guilt making us feel inadequate.
Do it in community.
We were made to live in community. Make friends with other women who genuinely support, care for, and love you. Invest in relationships with women who desire to see you thrive in mothering. Make friends with a diverse range of women; mums with kids of similar ages and women with adult children who can mentor you and journey with you.
Be intentional to keep life-giving friendships because you will flourish in community. Walk away from toxic relationships which drain you emotionally or cause drama and concentrate on surrounding yourself with women who will celebrate you, cheer you on, and rejoice with you.
Give yourself Grace.
Who do we give the best of ourselves too?
Do you (just like me), often find yourself in a rut of being short, frustrated or irritated with your nearest and dearest? Our loved ones are often our “safe place” to unload all the day’s stresses, hurts, offences, disappointments, and frustrations. Why is it that we seem to have unlimited patience for those we work with, serve with at church or socialise with? We give away the best of ourselves to those outside our homes and leave an empty tank for the people that should matter the most to us.
Embracing Sacrificial Motherhood, also means giving ourselves grace. We are not perfect people, we are imperfect women who desire to give our best to our children, and some days our best might not look that great. But we can remind ourselves that tomorrow is a new day, a fresh start full of hope. Often, when things seem to be spiralling at home, it is a good indicator that we need some rest, some time to recharge and overall – time in Mother Culture.
Some practical tips I have used myself to better love my family are;
- Think/pause before I speak.
- Respond with gentle answers.
- Avoid using harsh tones and careless words.
- Beware of body language.
- Give my best to my family not my “left-overs”.
- Practise generosity towards my family (notes of encouragements, surprise gifts, doing chores for them so they can rest, telling them how special they are).
- Be quick to resolve conflict.
- Seek forgiveness and offer forgiveness.
- Put down my phone and practise active listening.
- Eat together and value quality time together.
- Pray for one another.
- Rest when you need to rest.
Let’s ensure that there is ONE us. Let the ‘you’ that others see, be the same ‘you’ that your family sees. Let us give the best of ourselves to those who hold that unique and special safe place in our hearts.
Don’t Grow Weary in doing Good.
What is the ‘holy work’ that you were created for? What is your purpose? Although motherhood is the focus of our lives during this season – we are all made for more because motherhood, like everything else in life, is seasonal in its demands. Although we are in the trenches now – one day we will be releasing these little people, grown and independent, out into the world. Our lives will continue – our next purpose will shine through during this new season. It is healthy, and a form of Mother Culture, to keep this long-term perspective; it gives us a desire to continue to learn and grow, to explore and discover, knowing there will be a season in the not-too-distant future, when our lives will seem our own again – and the possibilities for us to explore will be endless.
When my six-year-old daughter exclaimed recently “Mumma you were created to run your book clubs!”, I felt a deep sense of peace and joy flutter within my soul. We are all given ‘holy work’ to do, work which is ordained by God for our good, the good of others and His glory. During these early years of motherhood, these things may seem to slow down to a snails pace, but through Mother Culture we can keep them going in the background. 10 minutes here and there, a coffee kid free with a dear friend, a chapter of a book over a few days – will keep that desire alight in our hearts, ready to be properly reignited once the time is right.
What is it the is unique to you? That you have been created to do? How can you be intentional with your time and allow space for both sacrificial motherhood and your passions and hobbies – the things which fill up your cup so your able to continue to pour out love and life to your family, friends, and community around you?
And let us Remember what Sacrificial Motherhood is not;
- It is not devaluing ourselves as mothers, believing someone else could do it better.
- It is not running ourselves into the ground because we are prioritising every single other person before ourselves.
- It is not sacrificing our health and wellbeing in the name of motherhood.
- It is not being best friends with your children while they are little or giving into every whim and request.
- It is not prioritising our children while neglecting our spouse.
- It is not making an unhealthy idol of our children or motherhood.
Finally, Pursue God.
When people ask or comment “I don’t know how you do it!?”, the answer is simple – I pursue God. I am the mother I am today because of Jesus and I will boast about Him and what He has done in my life. He has a perfect plan for my life – which includes motherhood – and I thank Him that He intervened and did not let me stray by pursuing my own imperfect plan. Although “homeschool mum” was not the plan I had, I have found my purpose, peace, and joy, in fulfilling this task which was carefully assigned to me.
My favourite verse in the Bible is Jeremiah 29:13 “If you look for me wholeheartedly you will find me”, it is a promise that when we seek after the Lord with our whole hearts, we WILL find Him.
He is not far away, unknowable, or uncaring. He is ready and willing to reveal Himself to those who pursue Him. Jesus, about His own heart said that “He is gentle and lowly”. He reveals that at the very core of His being, He is tender and humble, open and welcoming, willing and understanding, towards those who seek Him.
You can trust Jesus with your delicate mother-heart, and you can trust your children into His tender and careful care. He will take the mess and struggles and make it into something beautiful, all you need to do is hand it to him in faith. If you do not yet have a relationship with Jesus, take time to consider why this is. Are you afraid, sceptical, indifferent, or hurt? When it comes to your motherhood journey, there is none other than Jesus who can truly transform it. My life is a testimony to this fact, and He is worth pursing – despite your hurts, misconceptions or hang up’s. He is ready, willing, and waiting, desiring to lift this heavy burden from you and to help you thrive through this adventure of motherhood!