The church isn’t the only place that gets it wrong.
A commenter on Facebook pointed this out to me, and she’s correct. However, being a Southern-raised girl who married a minister… the church is where I’ve seen it most.
“Motherhood is a woman’s highest calling.”
This is a lie. Or, at the very least, it is a lie for most women. It is a lie piled high and heavy on young girls’ hearts.
Or, at the very least, it was piled high and heavy onto mine.
I have to take a quick moment to point out… my parents NEVER taught me this. My father isn’t even a Christian, and he certainly never pressured me to have kids one day. He never pressured me to do much of anything except always use sarcasm and fight hard for what I want. My mother encouraged me to stand on my own two feet and she worked her fingers to the bone to make sure I had every opportunity to do so.
But I digress.
Once I left my little country church for a bigger church with a youth group, I noticed things. Sunday school classes were arranged by age and family status. When I finished high school, I moved to the college & young adult class. There was also a singles class, a young marrieds class, and then came the couples with babies and so on and so forth. The oddness of this never crossed my mind until I married and had my first child.
I was only 20-years-old, and the church didn’t know where to put me. By age, I should have been in the college Sunday School class, but that was an epic fail. Those kids were hungover from partying or talking about Econ classes. I was caring for an infant with reflux and battling Postpartum Depression. So we were moved to a class for couples with kids. These people were all in their thirties and forties and mostly ignored us as still being kids ourselves.
Eventually, I joined a small group. I was the youngest member, at 26, and our oldest member celebrated her 80th birthday that year.
Best. Group. Ever.
I’d finally found a community that didn’t pigeonhole me based on age, marital status, or offspring. It was a place where we all learned from one another. Women shared from their experiences, and with such a variety of women, there was always someone who had walked where you were walking and someone who needed to hear about the road you’d already traveled.
I found a home where I was accepted and loved for being me and not for being a mom.
Being a mother is not my highest calling. I’m not even sure I’d label it as one of my callings. I am a mom because I have kids. I didn’t really think about my life and decide to have these boys. I didn’t feel deeply called to parent. I just fell in love and one thing led to another and TA DA! Babies.
Mothering has never come naturally to me, but I love my kids. I am fighting tooth and nail to do right by them and raise them into the men God wants them to be. But the callings I feel on my life began before I was a mom and they will determine my path long after my sons are adults.
I truly feel I would be doing my kids a disservice if I treated them as my highest calling. That’s a whole lot of pressure to put on a couple of fart-joke-loving adolescents.
If I feel like this and I have kids, I cannot imagine how the women who don’t have children feel when the church harps on about motherhood as the only godly role for women… whether they choose to have no children or want them desperately and cannot have them. How emptying. How hollowing the theology of motherhood as the only worthy role.
And the answer we give? If you don’t have kids of your own, I am sure you “mother” someone somewhere somehow.
I doubt this is comforting. Again, it says to a woman, “You must be a mother, somehow, someway.”
There’s more to me than my passed-on DNA.
There’s more to you too.
And my highest calling?
My highest calling is to follow Jesus, wherever He leads, with or without children in tow.