The Real Job of Moms

What about a mom’s primary job? It’s not cooking dinner, changing diapers or
helping a preschooler glue colored macaroni on a coffee can as a Father’s Day

The most important assignment a mom has is to nurture her

But what does that mean, exactly? Most of us have a vague notion about what
being nurtured feels like, but here are a few specifics.

A nurturing mom goes beyond being the "maintenance person" in a child’s life.
She doesn’t just keep a child clean, fed, warm, and dry. She also helps enable
her children to develop fully by pouring life into them. She models joy and
passion. Nurturing is filling your child up with aliveness.

It’s not a joyless, self-sacrificing caricature of Betty Crocker. A nurturing
mom takes time to play, read, and take pictures when the toddler’s spaghetti
ends up on the head instead of in the mouth. She enters the child’s world to see
things from his or her perspective, even if it means the carpets don’t get
vacuumed for a while. She provides empathetic understanding from a position of
strength and support. That’s true whether she’s dealing with a toddler or a teen
— except for the part about spaghetti on the head.

Like dads, though, moms have a natural urge to protect their children. That
can lead them to cross the line between nurturing and futile attempts at
control. One mother of twins describes her ongoing battle with this issue:

I remember when my boys were babies. I took them out for their first ride in
the double stroller. Along the way, I saw a mean-looking dog running loose ahead
of us. Instantly I made plans to save the lives of my children by throwing
myself over their little bodies, suffering whatever injuries the dog’s sharp
teeth might inflict. When the harmless dog trotted away without any attempt to
attack us, I laughed at how readily my "mommy radar" had me prepared to die for
my kids, without thinking twice.

Two years later, I struggled because it wasn’t so easy to keep my little ones
safe. As fast-moving toddlers, they were always three steps ahead of me at the
lakeside park we visited often. Either I was chasing one down to keep him from
following the geese into the lake, or I was wrestling my way up the jungle gym
to spot my would-be mountain climber. But I didn’t want to refuse my boys the
pleasures of the playground and their freedom to explore. How often I wished to
put each boy on a 200-foot leash so each could be free — within limits.

Many years later, this struggle continues. I want my 16-year-olds to drive so
they can enjoy the normal freedoms and growth of other teenagers. Yet I do what
I can to instill the fear of death in them to keep them on a "leash" of careful
driving habits and away from daredevil maneuvers behind the wheel. Finding
balance means continually going back and forth between the healthy desire to
give my kids freedom and my God-given urge to keep them safe.

You can’t control the results, but you can stir in the right ingredients. You
can seek to know your children as individuals, different as they might be, and
bring out the best in each. You can demonstrate by example how to explore life
with zest and express the unique gifts God provides each of us. Your nurturing
can blossom in emotional and spiritual growth.

Before you feel burdened with a mile-long list you can never follow through
on, let me be quick to say that nurturing is not about "doing it all" or doing
it perfectly. It’s about doing the best you can — without losing yourself or
driving yourself crazy because your own needs aren’t taken care of. You won’t be
able to nurture your children if you’re exhausted from burning the candle at
both ends.

So please take care of yourself, too. You need aliveness in order to
pass it on to your teenagers.