It takes guts to be a mother

By Holly Shivers

Elisabeth Elliot once said, “It takes guts to be a mom.” (I am told that she spelled out the word- G-U-T-S – so as not to utter it. She was the most endearing!)

As a mom of four and the daughter of the greatest mother on earth, these words certainly ring true. Allow me to encourage you moms this Mother’s Day with 4 ways in which it takes g-u-t-s to do what you do.

1. There is always a risk when it comes to intense love

Picture this: Your whimsical seventeen year old daughter comes to you starry-eyed, telling you that she has officially fallen in love. At this instant, your heart is in your ankles. Not because you don’t want her to feel all the flurries and experience the elation of young love, but because you know what most likely will follow: a broken heart. There is always a risk when it comes to intense love. And certainly, there is none on earth more intense than a mother’s love.

Being a mom brings the risk of feeling sorrowful due to your child’s rebellion, watching them fail at something in which they long to succeed or feeling pained when they are wounded. (Hence the saying, “You are only as happy as your least happy child!”) Loving your kid includes the risk of making parental mistakes, fighting the urge to control and forever carrying around that weight that whispers, “You are responsible for how this one turns out!” Perhaps the greatest risk a mother takes is facing that dreaded event looming just around the corner: letting go. Nevertheless, we buck up and take these risks while hoping, knowing deep inside, it has been worth it all along. (See Isaiah 63:9)

2. The right thing = the hard thing (usually) 

Confession: I want to be “cool” and “fun” mom. I really do. I have friends who don’t have this struggle. They say to me, “I don’t care if I’m cool! It’s not my job to be cool!” I have tried to adopt this mantra to no avail. I can admit that I want to be “fun mom,” and this takes “having guts” to a whole new level. Examples: Saying “No” when it will result in your child’s anger toward you, taking back a “Yes” (did you know you can do that?!) and sometimes even depriving your child of something good in order to teach a greater lesson.

Doing the hard thing includes having the heavy conversations when you’d rather just let it lie. It may mean turning off your phone and playing one. more. round of “Go Fish.” The hard thing is waiting for your 14 year old to finish studying at 10:30pm when all you want to do is go to bed, because you know that’s when he is most chatty and might give you a window into his world. It’s putting your child in a position where they are the “only one” who cannot go somewhere because of that little check in your spirit. Doing the hard thing is following through when it’s so much easier to let it slide. (See Galatians 6:9.)

3. Motherhood = Sacrifice

The words “Mother” and “Sacrifice” are almost one in the same. While it is in a mom’s nature to sacrifice for her children, sometimes it can take guts to do so. This may mean depriving yourself of your own wants, needs and dreams. It can sometimes cause resentment or irritation at being their constant source of aid. When I was in middle school, my mom reached a breaking point one day when my sister and I would repeatedly be calling for her: “MOM!” She made a declaration that day: from then on, we were to call her “Harold,” because she couldn’t listen to us scream the word “Mom” one more time. And it stuck. Do whatever it takes, yes?

That being said, the act of sacrificing can also be a gift, providing a beautiful picture of what Paul meant when he talked of how Jesus “emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave.” (See Philippians 2.)

4. Anxiety is a constant companion

My memories of mothering newborns include feelings of both euphoria and hysteria. Yes, I was sleep deprived, but I’m convinced that was more so due to constant worry than to middle of the night feedings. “Is she safer on her side or back? What if the blanket moves in front of her nose? Is it too hot in there? Is the monitor even working?? What about the carbon monoxide detector???” Then comes childhood, where worrying about blankets transforms into worrying about who they are to become, and then the teen years arrive and your friend Anxiety brings her “A” game! An unreturned text or call turns into a movie in your mind of the worst possible scenario. And if you think it stops there, ask my 85-year-old grandmother and she will tell you otherwise! (See Psalm 55:22.)

Indeed, Motherhood takes GUTS. But there is much more to it than that. Elisabeth Elliot had a daily radio program for 13 years. At the end of each broadcast, she had a signature line: “… and underneath are the everlasting arms!” May you be blessed this Mother’s Day with the assurance that you don’t carry this glorious load alone … for underneath you lies the arms of the One who holds us all together.

(Happy Mother’s Day, Harold.)

Published May 11, 2017

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Holly Shivers

Holly Shivers is the author of I Can Learn the Bible and I Can Learn to Pray. Holly has served as a staff wife for over a decade at her church, Prestonwood, where she stays involved in women's and children's ministries. She received her Masters degree in counseling. Holly enjoys contributing to various writing projects and ministry blogs, but is mostly passionate about writing to kids. Some of her favorite things: Dr. Pepper, rainy days, family time and especially those Dallas Cowboys! Holly lives in Texas with her husband and four kids.