About the Author
Karol Ladd, bestselling author of the Power of a Positive series, is a gifted communicator and dynamic leader. She is also the founder and president of Positive Life Principles, Inc., a resource company offering strategies for success in both home and work. Karol is a popular speaker to women’s organizations, church groups, and corporate events across the nation. She devotes her time to several different ministries, which encourage, strengthen, and help women around the world, and recently started an outreach to moms of at-risk kids in Dallas called Engage Positive Parenting Initiative. Her most valued role is that of wife to Curt and mother to daughters Grace and Joy.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The Power of a Positive Mom 1
influence beyond measure
Never Underestimate the Power of a Mother
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue . . . Her children arise and call her blessed.
—Proverbs 31:25–26, 28
Mothers possess a rare form of wisdom. We know important information that others don’t—such as the location of the restroom in every grocery store in town and exactly where to go online to find the perfect remedy for a dry, hacking cough. The rest of humanity may not know how to cut sandwiches into animal shapes or which restaurants offer “kids eat free” on Wednesday nights, but mothers know. And moms are keenly aware that a chocolate ice-cream cone cannot be consumed by a preschooler without leaving its mark on a freshly cleaned outfit or finely upholstered furniture. Others seem oblivious to that fact (especially dads!).
Obviously, we mothers make up a highly informed segment of society. Some days we may wish we did not possess such experiential knowledge, but the truth is that we wouldn’t trade this job for the world. It’s the toughest job we ever loved!
Motherhood transforms naive, inexperienced young ladies into wise, accomplished women who command respect. Maternal love strengthens us and helps us grow into selfless, thoughtful, and giving adults. I like the way author Susan Lapinski describes it: “I guess what I’ve discovered is the humanizing effect of children in my life, stretching me, humbling me. Maybe my thighs aren’t as thin as they used to be; maybe my getaways aren’t as glamorous. Still, I like the woman that motherhood has helped me to become.”1
Yes, being a mom changes us for the better!
Granted, the work schedule for a mother is a bit challenging: twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year, with no weekends or holidays off. Even moms who work outside the home know they are “on call” 24/7. Some people would throw in the towel at such impossible hours, but not mothers! God has given us an inexplicable strength—a strength beyond our own strength—that allows us to tend to the multiple needs and cares of our precious charges. Like the Energizer Bunny, we just keep going and going despite midnight feedings, sleepless slumber parties, twice-a-week soccer practices (plus a game on Saturday), and overdue science projects. It generally requires a doctor’s order for a mom to take “sick leave.”
Cathy is a good example. A stay-at-home mom of two preschoolers, she had rarely taken a leave of absence from her job as a mom. But when she found herself restricted to bed rest under a doctor’s care, she called her in-laws to come to the rescue. Before her replacements arrived, however, her three-year-old son, Ryan, approached her and said with deep concern, “Mommy, what are we going to do? Who is going to feed us and put us to bed and play with us?” Tears filled his little eyes. “I need you!” he cried.
Ryan recognized the truth that when mom is off-duty, things just aren’t the same. He was consoled only when he was told that Grandma was on her way. At least his grandmother was an experienced mother!
The Worth of a Mom
A study recently conducted by Edelman Financial Services tried to identify the many occupations that a typical mother might be said to hold over the course of a year. The researchers also examined salary data supplied by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, trade groups, and human resource and staffing firms. Putting all the information together, Edelman estimated that a mother’s worth is approximately $773,700 per year! Here is a breakdown of the various tasks typically performed by a mother and the corresponding median salaries:
Computer Systems Analyst
Food/Beverage Service Worker
General Office Clerk
Child Care Worker
Elementary School Principal
The Edelman study suggested that since a mother wears many hats and is on duty twenty-four hours a day, she deserves a full-time, annual salary for all seventeen positions. And since the retirement, health, and insurance benefits that workers in these positions typically receive were not factored in, the figures should actually be much higher!3
Quite a flattering list, don’t you think? But I noticed that a few items were left out of the calculations. For example:
Kissing a boo-boo
Fixing a favorite meal just the way they like it
Making them feel special on their birthdays
Getting up during the night for feedings or illnesses
Adjudicating sibling disputes
Searching the entire house for a lost gerbil
Cheering enthusiastically from the sidelines
Scratching their backs while they lie in bed
Baking warm cookies for an after-school snack
Telling stories at bedtime
Holding their hands during vaccinations
Giving a hug, a smile, a word of encouragement
There are some things money just can’t buy! While Edelman’s research may have been on the right track, the truth is that a mother’s worth is incalculable. Few can duplicate our loving touch. What price tag can be placed on the sense of warmth and comfort we bring to our homes? On the feeling of protection and safety our children enjoy just because we’re nearby? On our uncanny ability to sense our children’s needs before they even ask?
Recently I asked a small group of mothers, “What makes a mother priceless?”
One woman responded, “Nobody but a mom can tell when her child is about to throw up!”
Who can calculate the worth of that kind of “mother’s intuition”?
The world does not necessarily recognize the unique value of motherhood. In fact, we have to fight hard not to be discouraged by current cultural trends that tend to devalue a mother’s role and downplay her influence in the lives of her children. Yet, we need look no further than the Bible to see that God has given parents the job of training and teaching their children. In Deuteronomy 6:4–7, Moses charges the Israelites to faithfully impress God’s commandments on their children’s hearts: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Clearly God places in the hands of parents—not peers, not schoolteachers, not government officials, or anyone else—the responsibility for teaching their children to love God and obey His Word. And as godly parents we have been specially empowered by God to pass on His commandments from generation to generation.
Modern society is rampant with self-centered philosophies of “self-improvement” and “self-actualization.” We are bombarded daily with messages that tell us we should look out for number one and pursue our own interests and goals at any cost. This pervasive thinking, by implying that the selflessness of motherhood is not a worthy investment of our time and effort, often creates feelings of inadequacy in moms.
The underlying myth is that if we endeavor to be attentive mothers, we are missing out in life. Not so! What could be more invigorating, more life-giving, than a house full of energetic teenagers wanting to be fed or a handful of toddlers wanting to play hide-and-seek or a newborn baby wanting to be held?
Besides, as Jesus said in Matthew 10:39, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Motherhood has this kind of selfless love built into the job description. I can assure you, moms aren’t the ones missing out!
Expanding Our Talents
The truth is that motherhood is not only a good use of our talents and abilities, it actually increases and expands them.
Being a mother broadens our worldview and opens our hearts to a deeper compassion and love for others. It constantly exposes us to new challenges and stretches us to learn new skills. Where else but in motherhood can a woman learn to effectively juggle five tasks at once? A typical mother can cook dinner, answer the telephone, and help with the homework while feeding the baby and scolding the dog. She can shop for the household, do a couple of loads of laundry, write the bills, and still show affection for each of her loved ones. And all of this is often after a full day at the office! Amazing!
Remember Edelman’s list of occupational roles filled by a mother over a year’s time? Where else could a woman get such extensive on-the-job training?
Stay-at-home moms often feel put to the challenge when someone asks, “And what do you do?” Unfortunately, because of the way society thinks, it seems shallow to answer, “I’m a full-time mom.” Even though we know that motherhood is a high and important calling, we feel as though we must be able to list several substantial interests outside the home to satisfy our inquirers. It used to be that our occupation was spoken of with respect and honor; now it’s treated as a mere accessory in the ensemble of life! And moms who also work outside the home are sometimes marginalized on the assumption that they can’t do both jobs well.
My family roots are in Pekin, Illinois, home of the late Senator Everett M. Dirkson. One time a Chicago Tribune editor posed this question to the senator: “Senator Dirkson, you’ve been the confidant of four presidents, you’ve known the great and near great in this world. Who would you say is the greatest person alive today?”
Without hesitation, the senator said, “It’s somebody you never heard about before. It’s a mother who gets up and gets her children prepared for school; it’s a farmer down in southern Illinois that goes out and plows the ground with nobody cheering, nobody supervising.”4
Certainly we do not receive a lot of accolades for being a mom. Often our many hours of hard work seem to roll by largely unnoticed, but our work does make a difference in this world. My dad always says, “Spectacular achievements come from unspectacular preparation.” The tasks we do day in and day out as a mom may not seem so spectacular, but they are achieving an important end goal: raising the next generation.
We can be confident in the work we do as moms, knowing that we are making a difference every day in the lives of the children God has placed in our care. Whether we spend a major portion of our day at an office, a school, a hospital, a store, a factory, or at home, we are first and foremost mothers—and we are continuously building values and vision into the lives of our kids.
No language can express the power and beauty and heroism of a mother’s love.—Edwin H. Chapin
Remembering Our Employer
Take a moment now to reflect on the day you first added the word mother to your job title. It was on that day that you began a new and unique journey into the unknown. You took on a monumental obligation and trust, agreeing to a lifelong commitment to love and care for that new person God brought into your life. You probably felt inadequate at the time, but day by day you grew in wisdom, strength, and ability to match the challenges of your new role.
The truth is that mother describes not only what we do, but who we are. From the moment children were first introduced into our lives, we became new people—women with a greater purpose, responsibility, and significance.
Colossians 3:17 reminds us. “And whatever you do,” the apostle Paul writes, “whether in word or in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Paul continues in verses 23 and 24: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
As believers, whatever work we do is for the Lord. It is ultimately God we are pleasing as we devote ourselves to our families. It is God who will reward us one day for our untiring effort. If we were working for people in this world, we would no doubt want recognition or pay for what we do as moms. But ours is a higher calling. We are not working for money or accolades on earth; we are working with all our heart for the Lord. In fact, our entire job as mothers is done from the heart, rooted in the motherly love God has given us for our children.
Dear friend, you and I can go forward with complete job confidence. After all, we work for the greatest employer in the universe! Our work as mothers does matter—because it matters to God. We can wear the title with humility and honor, recognizing that we have the power to influence and mold our children like the precious pieces of human clay that they are.
Listen to the words of this insightful poem:
I took a piece of plastic clay
And idly fashioned it one day;
And as my fingers pressed it still,
It moved and yielded at my will.
I came again when days were past,
The form I gave it still did last
And as my fingers pressed it still,
I could change that form no more at will.
I took a piece of living clay,
And gently formed it day by day,
And molded with my power and art,
A young child’s soft and yielding heart.
I came again when days were gone;
It was a man I looked upon,
He still that early impress bore,
And I could change it never more.5
It’s true: every new mother holds in her arms a precious bundle of malleable human potential waiting to be molded into flourishing adulthood through her tender, loving care. Our job as mothers must never be taken lightly! We have a great responsibility—both to God and to our children. As we understand the impact that our words and actions have on the lives of our kids, we realize the monumental nature of our task. But God never gives us a job He doesn’t first equip us to do. As mothers, we have been specially created to influence the lives of the generations that follow.
Consider Victor, who juggles two demanding jobs. He is a probation officer for a juvenile court during the day and a gymnastics coach in the evenings and on weekends. Victor was one of ten children, raised from his youth by his mother and grandmother in a household characterized by both strict discipline and unconditional love. He credits these two women with the strength and determination that he learned as a young man and that continue to serve him well now.
More than anything else, Victor says, his mother and grandmother taught him the “wisdom of compassion” and how to tru...
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