Why motherhood matters

May 11, 2015 by

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Since my book Mom Seeks God came out last year, I’ve spoken to many moms’ groups, and one thing has stood out to me as a need common to all moms:

To know that our job matters.

Whether we’re exhausted new moms buried under a pile of dirty diapers, overwhelmed chauffeur moms who are always running late for soccer practice, or the moms of older children who wish those kids seemed to need us just a little bit more, I think we all share the desire to know that our work as moms is important.

It is.

Our children may not realize it, we may not even realize it some days, but God does. God knows that our work is important. Why else would the most common way to refer to God be as a parent?

Sometimes I find myself thinking that my role as a mother is important, but not the actual day-to-day stuff, not the folding of the socks and the setting out of the pajamas and the packing of the lunches and the nightly bath. But this is wrong.

I believe Jesus’ single greatest act, other than his sacrifice on the cross, was the washing of the feet of the disciples. I’ve always loved the way Richard Foster writes about this: “Then Jesus took a towel and a basin and redefined greatness” (Celebration of Discipline).

To me, there’s no other story from Jesus’ life that feels as directly applicable to my life as a mom. Not only am I literally washing and cleaning so much of the time, I’m struck by the sheer mundanity and messiness of the task that Jesus takes on.

It’s so easy to pay lip service to the idea that we can do great things for God in our lives but really secretly believe that greatness for God is limited to those who have huge platforms and national ministries or awe-inspiring stories of sacrifice and miracle.

There’s nothing very awe-inspiring about what I do every day, believe me. I run my kids around a lot, I try to make them healthy food, I read them a lot of books, I tidy up and clean a lot of things, and they all seem to get messy again immediately.

The Bible doesn’t tell us that Jesus’ footwashing had any lasting, miraculous effects. What if the disciples’ feet never got dirty again? That would be really something, right? That would be something worthy of the Son of God, you’d think.

But no. As far as the Bible tells us, Jesus washed their feet and then they got dirty again as usual the next day, probably as soon as they stepped out onto the dusty roads in their sandals.

Forever cleanliness wasn’t the point. Jesus loved his disciples, and he didn’t hesitate to serve them, in the most menial way possible, knowing that his work wouldn’t have a long-lasting physical effect. But I’m sure it changed those disciples. His act has changed me.

To know that he loved them so much that he wouldn’t hesitate to do something that was considered so far below him. To know that he didn’t care one bit about humbling himself to elevate them, to inspire them to do the same for others.

My children will get dirty again. So will their clothes, the dishes, the floor and every other surface of my house. But cleaning them isn’t some useless Sisyphean task. I hope, I know, I pray that every tiny act of service I pour out on them changes them. That the cumulative effect of all of these acts is to let them know that their mother loves them beyond anything else in this world. That only their father in heaven loves them more. That they one day see that getting down on the floor with a towel to clean something can indeed be an act of greatness.

Our work matters, moms. We are serving here, serving our children, serving Jesus, serving our God. Even the stuff that seems beyond insignificant — the laundry, the diapers, the endless cleaning of things that soon become dirty again . . .

It matters. In my eyes. In your children’s eyes. In God’s eyes.

Julia Roller is a mom, wife, author, editor and speaker living in San Diego with her husband and two sons. Her recent books include 25 Books Every Christian Should Read, A Year with Aslan, A Year with God and Mom Seeks God. This blog post is provided thanks to our partnership with Practicing Families.


Comments Policy

Mennonite World Review invites readers’ comments on articles. To promote constructive dialogue, editors select the comments that appear, just as we do with letters to the editor in print. These decisions are final. Writers must sign their first and last names; anonymous comments are not accepted. Comments do not appear until approved and are posted during business hours. Comments may be reproduced in print, and may be edited if selected for print.