Being a mother is both demanding and rewarding—it is equivalent to a professional pursuit. Molding minds, healing spirits, nurturing bodies, and developing potential—this job can be amazingly productive and overwhelmingly rewarding. The results of competent mothering will be passed from generation to generation! For a mother, rearing her children is her mission, life’s work, the opportunity for her greatest legacy.
Yet why do fewer and fewer women willingly and joyfully commit themselves to this task? Children may bring disappointments and sorrows. A mother loses much of her privacy and sometimes experiences radical changes to her entire lifestyle. You cannot pay a woman to do what mothers do for free. Her rewards are not materialistic benefits that fade but intangible rewards of blessings and honor that will last through eternity.
Susanna Wesley homeschooled her children—six hours of daily instruction interrupted only by the most urgent need. Her husband, curious about her methods, decided to observe her home classroom. “I wonder at your patience,” he said. “You have told that child twenty times the same thing!” Susanna responded, “If I had satisfied myself by mentioning it only nineteen times, I should have lost all my labour. It was the twentieth time that crowned it.”
A mother has the potential of her own “greenhouse.” More than automatic sprinkling and robotic feeding of plants is necessary—not simply survival but the delight of fellowship and personal interaction as Mama Gardener “grows” the next generation! The home is essential for the production of moral, social, and human capital—the work forces and visionary leaders needed for the future. This process, when done with excellence, cannot be short-circuited, mechanized, or standardized to one-size-fits-all.
Remembering the screen classic Magnificent Obsession, I want to challenge this generation of mothers to embrace their own magnificent obsession, i.e., complete dedication to the task of nurturing their children—becoming family-obsessed in the sense of being passionately devoted to the high and holy task of preparing the next generation. Such indeed is considered abnormal by many who look at the task of maternity as perfunctory, without need for preparation or training, and certainly not the most important task a woman should pursue. Yet, what a difference could be made if suddenly the home and family, and especially the children, could be treated with the same importance as other professional pursuits.
- You are equipped to be a “life bearer”—to conceive, carry, and nurture the beginning of life. A mother’s exclusive role in procreation and her unique human tie with her offspring position her to extend her influence far beyond the family circle. She plays a major role in establishing the values and character not only of her children but also of a nation.
- You are appointed to be the rock of strength and haven of protection for your vulnerable children. A mother who is anchored in her own faith and whose character is settled in her own life is going to be a formidable influence on her offspring. Knowing that someone cares for him and is committed to him above every earthly endeavor gives a child confidence for whatever obstacles he may face and serves as a mooring for him in the storms of life.
- You have the opportunity to lay the foundation for all learning. Hands-on, custom training is the order of the day for serious developmental training of the child. The teaching of physical coordination and informal social interaction includes learning first by practicing communication in simple practical ways through ordinary conversation between mother and child. One thread running through the entire process is time and dedication to the task!
- You have the opportunity to make your children feel that home is the happiest and best place in all the world. Mother becomes the Alpha and the Omega of her abode and by her own attitude and efforts regulates the internal policies by which her home is governed. Her daughters have the opportunity to model themselves after her example, and her sons can be inspired by her quiet but consistent encouragement; both daughters and sons are directed by her counsel and overshadowed by her virtues.
The family mealtime is an important key to making home special. All family members must eat. Most like to eat, so there is a natural eagerness and anticipation as well as relaxation to this scene if Mother gives attention to making it special and uniquely a family time. Over the years, my mother, as did my husband’s mother, set a precedent of making family meals memorable. I had a double legacy to drive me to do the same and to give me a unique blend of my childhood family’s very simple but hearty fare with my husband’s childhood meals of ethnic cuisines. I have added seasonal touches and tablescapes and often place favors. My husband has included lively conversation and the discussion of timely topics (never reprimands or chastisement in this setting). I have introduced tips on basic etiquette (his curriculum seemed more successful than mine, I might add).
Perhaps the home is the toughest workplace of all with unrelenting and even unreasonable demands. A mother seems to be on call 24 hours a day without a basic wage, much less any overtime. But we are “working mothers”! The work may be physically, emotionally, and mentally draining—and even boring. A mother may not be recognized or thanked for her selfless labor. Mothers who devote their primary energies and creativities and the bulk of their time to rearing their children do indeed WORK, but they are not paid in dollars and cents. Their rewards rest in the seedbed of their own hearts with lasting memories of their investment in the lives of those whom they love most in the world. The best present I have given my children has been my presence in their lives from conception until now. The best present they have given me is wrapped up in who they have become, the roles they have taken in their own respective homes and the contributions they are making in the lives of their own families, friends, and even with the strangers who cross their paths. They continue to be a joy to my life; and because of their commitment to Christ, they will be my brightest crowns to place at the feet of the blessed Jesus.
 This article is adapted from an address delivered on October 28, 2015, at the World Congress of Families IX in Salt Lake City, Utah.
 Eliza Clarke, Susanna Wesley (London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1886), 25, 27-28.