Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Heather Reid on motherhood

Last Saturday, Heather Reid and I had the privilege to lead a seminar on motherhood for 2 groups of 70 women. We sat outside, under the gum trees, and there was lots of sympathetic laughter - nothing like getting a group of mothers together, with all those shared experiences of nappies and sleepless nights!

I'd never thought about how motherhood is modelled on the character of God. So it was good to hear Heather, mother of 2 boys, both recently married, speak on motherhood:

1. God is the giver and source of life. Like God, mothers are life-givers (Gen. 3:20). Not just when we give birth (not all mothers give birth) but as we preserve, protect, and lay down our lives for our children.

2. God is compassionate. "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!" (Is. 49:15). Like God, our love should be spontaneous, tender, and compassionate.

3. God is a God of discipline and comfort. "As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem" (Is. 66:13). Like God, we should discipline our children justly, but also be ready to comfort them with warmth, and accept them with grace.

4. Our role as a mother is tied up with training (Deut. 6:5-9, Tit. 2:3-5). God calls us to be like Lois and Eunice, Timothy's grandmother and mother, who "from infancy" sowed the seeds of Timothy's faith and character (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15).

Heather also gave a short testimony about her experience as a mother of 2 boys.

When Heather's sons were 18, Andrew and Heather asked them what they did right and wrong in their parenting (a terrifying question!). The boys said, "Well, sometimes mum nagged, and dad was cranky, but it didn't matter, because you loved us."

She says she wasn't a natural mother: no home-baked cookies or hospital corners. But no child, when they're 18, says to their mum, "I wish you baked cookies", or "I wish you put hospital corners on my bed". Very reassuring!

Heather's 2 sons were chalk and cheese: she loved the "terrible twos", watching their different personalities emerge. She encouraged us to allow our children to be who they are, and to let them grow into independence.

Every child needs different parenting. When Heather's 2 boys were young, she looked after them and 2 other boys for 3 days a week: 4 boys, 4 disciplinary methods! A great reminder to be careful of claims that spanking, time-out, boundaries, or ignoring, are the "secret" to discipline, or the only appropriate discipline (hey, I read a blog post on that recently!).

Motherhood is about relationship, not rules; about love, not law; about mercy that triumphs over judgement.

Tomorrow I'd like to tell you what I said about motherhood during our seminar. During the next few weeks, I'll discuss some of the fascinating questions women asked.

image is from stock.xchng

No comments: