A good mom changes everything and the importance of mothers cannot be understated. A mother plays many roles over the course of her child’s life –each one vital to shaping her child in different ways. Whether she is the primary caregiver, working parent, or both she holds an incredibly important role in her family.
When my firstborn came careening into our world, I didn’t know what to expect. What was my new role of mother in my family and how could I embrace each aspect in a positive way?
I did know, of course, sort of. I had read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” at least three times through, plus 5-10 other parenting, nursing, and birthing books. And about 1000 online articles about being a mom and caring for a baby.
I had listened to advice at baby showers: “sleep when the baby sleeps” and “it’s life-changing” and “cherish every minute, it goes so fast.”
But I still didn’t know what to expect in this essential role.
At first, it was all consuming just to keep this tiny miracle alive. To stop her screeching, to get her latched properly, to keep her comfy, to hope I wasn’t irreversibly screwing her up.
As the intensity of the early months faded,we came up for air, and my role in our family unit had shifted.
I wasn’t just Katie anymore. I wasn’t just a wife. I was a mother. And it more than any other role changed me. I lost myself in it for a bit, it felt impossible not to, but I also found myself: stronger, gentler, more alive than ever.
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1. The Caregiver
I was acting as her first care-giver.
- When I broke myself to bring her into the world alive.
- When I used by body to feed and sustain her for months.
- When I changed each gag-inducing dirty diaper.
- When I pushed her little arms into the thick snowsuit, zipping her snug as a bug against the elements.
- When I steadied her arms as she walked, and spooned baby food into her mouth….
Whether you are at home full time or a working mother or anything in between, this role of Caregiver is an incredibly exhausting, breathtakingly beautiful miracle.
This role is most intense with younger children, but will take less time in later years. My role as a caregiver is shifting as my kids get older…sometimes that makes me sad, and sometimes it deeply thrills me–the complicated and mysterious joy of motherhood.
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2. The Health Care Provider
As part of my health care provider role in family life I am the nurse healing scrape with a mother’s kiss, spooning chicken noodle soup into bowls, making doctor’s appointments, and dosing tylenol for children’s fevers.
The mother’s role of health care provider is a big one!
3. The Activity Coordinator
As the activity coordinator I am in charge of my children’s schedule. I keep track of their school activities, play dates, doctor’s appointments, music lessons and any number of other events. Not to mention making sure all the calendars synch up!
That is a huge job in a child’s life–one you may not fully appreciate until YOU are the adult trying to balance all the things.
4. The Child’s Teacher
I am my child’s first language arts teacher as I read my children nursery rhymes. I am the first math teacher as I count to 10 over and over again. As they begin school I help them understand how academic achievement can help their lives and proof papers and help them understand the importance of basic math skills as we cook together.
5. The Financial Planner
Kids have no idea what money is or how to use it. One of my roles in my child’s life is to act as their financial planner taking care of all the household expenses and teaching them to be responsible and generous with money.
In our house I do this by allowing our children to earn money for small jobs around the house. Then we help them learn to save, spend and give the money that they earn.
6. The Emotional Nurturer
While I am meeting those little physical needs as caregiver, I also took on the role of Nurturer, meeting my child’s emotional needs.
When I answered her squawks at 3 am, I told her I would always come for her.
When I picked her up and kissed her ouchies as she learned the messy business of walking upright, I told her I cared about her pain and I would do anything in my power to take it away. These small moments of meeting my child’s emotional needs have a deep impact on her life.
As a nurturing mother I am entrusted to the emotional needs of my kids. I hold them when they’re sad, I cheer with them when they’re happy, I talk with them when they’re scared, and help them with their big angry feelings too. It’s one of the biggest responsibilities of a mother.
As I was lay on the floor at 6 weeks postpartum feeling completely exhausted and overwhelmed, all I wanted was my mom. A mother’s nurturing never stops being needed by her children. I never stop learning from my own mom, never stop needing her and neither will my kids.
7. The Relationship Coach
I mediate a lot of disagreements in my child’s life (especially among siblings). I help them with problem resolution at home and out an about with friends. Eventually I will help them with dating skills and navigating all the social life drama of high school.
I coach them on how to apologize and make restitution. I give them conversation starters and good questions to help them form friendships.
8. The Home Caretaker
When my kids are small my role as the home caretaker includes being the chef, housekeeper, groundskeeper, laundress and more. Over time as my kids grow, I begin to include them in these undertakings so they can learn the life skills they need in a safe, “it’s okay to fail” environment.
“We all work together to keep our house clean.”
In my family we chant this little motto together to remind us that while my role as a mother may now include more of the home caretaker, it is a role that EVERYONE in our family takes part in.
9. The Brain of the Family
While this may be dad’s role in some families in most families I know, mom carries the mental weight of the family.
From knowing what groceries need ordered to who needs a dentist appointment to planning the next family vacation to deciding what to buy for Christmas presents– the role of the mother as the brain for her family members is a an important one.
As the brain of the family moms often have to think and remember things for everyone–which is mentally exhausting! It’s okay to delegate some of the mental load of parenting to your spouse and children as they get older.
10. The Spiritual Guide
My final role as a mother is as a spiritual guide, teaching faith and moral values to my children. This is perhaps the mother’s role with the most vital impact. Guiding my kid to be a kind human being who loves people and loves God is my life’s greatest work..
There isn’t much spiritual conversation happening with a baby. But, as a Christian mother it was important to me to be guiding my children and teaching them faith, even when they were too little to understand it.
I read them Bible stories as babies. I actually read the Jesus Storybook Bible out loud to my daughter during my last month of pregnancy. I sang hymns and worship songs over them. I clapped their chubby hands to songs in church.
Now that they’re bigger I get to have bigger conversations, bigger teachings, and most important, bigger modeling of what a life of following Jesus looks like on a daily basis.
Answering my kids questions about faith has grown my faith in such big ways. They ask questions I haven’t thought to ask in a long time. I’m so grateful for their questions and that God’s Word can stand up to their childlike scrutiny.
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I’ve learned so much about God’s heart for me through mothering my kids: forgiveness, kindness, unconditional love, PATIENCE, perseverance. I’m so thankful that as I guide them spiritually (both in my Christian faith and in morals in general), I’m also learning and growing right along with them.
I want my children to know God’s character and become children of character.
I will play many different roles in life, but the role of mother is one of my biggest and most important. I don’t have to be a perfect parent, I just have to be MY child’s parent. I’m the one God specifically created to be their coach, cheerleader, caregiver, and spiritual guide.
You are that gift to your kids too. You are the perfect mother, the exact right one, hand picked by God to provide for them physically, emotionally and spiritually.
I know being a mom can be exhausting and thankless, but keep your head up sister, you are doing a massive and indispensable and beautiful things “just” by being a mom.
If this post resonated with you, I’d love it if you’d share it with a friend! You can also sign up for my Vibrant Mom Starter Guide!
How do you define your role as a mother in your family?
What has being a mom taught you?