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Emotional Resilience

The World Needs Moms: The Amazing Power of Motherhood

This is a guest post by Deanna Lambson, founder of White Ribbon Week — a program anyone can organize at their local elementary school (or in their home!) that addresses issues such as online safety, cyberbullying, indecent media, screen time and emotional wellness. Deanna, mother of six, is a champion for children's online health and safety. See her bio at the bottom of the page for more information.

Our world often overlooks the profound influence of motherhood. But mothers play an irreplaceable role in shaping not just individual lives, but the very fabric of society. I find that springtime reminds me of this truth, as the rebirth of life in nature echoes the nurturing of motherhood.

This realization struck me profoundly on a recent Spring morning. I put my “farmin’ boots’ on to feed the chickens and goats. I petted a few chickens and gave Gideon Goat a kiss on the head (I can’t help it). I emerged from the coop into the cool, misty morning to find my dog Monty staring up at a tree nearby. I too looked up and noticed new pink blossoms waiting to burst out of their winter slumber. 

And there she was — a little bluebird with a few strands of dry grass in her beak, tucking them into a nest she had built on a branch of the tree. Monty and I watched her fly away and return with more twigs, protecting her eggs even before they had come. I had an immediate and powerful thought:

“Springtime is motherhood.”

The thought surprised me! How true! Springtime. Motherhood. New life. Hope. Love. The thought came so profoundly to my heart that I’ll confess, tears ran down my cheeks.

I don’t usually cry when I see a mother bird. (But then again, I do kiss goats so maybe that explains it!) 

It’s just that I had recently returned from the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York City where I was dumbfounded and horrified to hear motherhood spoken of as:

  • a “disadvantage,”
  • a “punishment,” and
  • the major cause of the inequality of women and men. 

As I listened to one panel discussion after another, I looked around, stunned, wanting to call out,

“Have you never had a child run into your arms?” “Have you never watched a child run on a soccer field, or sing in a school play or paint a picture just for you?”

Motherhood is all this and so much more. Mothers so naturally give their children a life-saving sense of security, self-confidence, the ability to love and to receive love.

Mothers and mental health

It is no coincidence that Mother’s Day is celebrated in the same month as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.

It’s impossible to detail all the miraculous connections between a mother and her child’s mental health but consider these few:

Wow… I can hardly comprehend that far-reaching power! It’s humbling and sobering.

Who ‘owns’ the young?

Kimberly Ells states in her book, The Invincible Family, that many powerful leaders have recognized this momentous influence for good or ill.

Mahatma Gandhi: “If we are to reach real peace in this world … we shall have to begin with children.”

Confucius: “If your plan is for one year, plant rice; if your plan is for ten years, plant trees; if your plan is for one hundred years, educate children.”

Adolf Hitler: “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”

This race to “own” the young is evidenced in current marketing strategies such as chewing tobacco packaged with brightly colored headphones, drag queen story hour, anime pornography, and ads hidden in apps for 5-year-olds. In 2022 social media apps made over $11 Billion dollars from advertising targeting children.

But Ells reassures,

“For millennia, women—mothers—have gained and maintained the allegiance of the very young. Mothers have taught children their first life lessons and secured in their minds the [values they cherish.] Thus, it could be argued that women have been and remain the primary masters of the destiny of the world.”

Indeed, as penned by poet William Ross Wallace, 

“The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”

The beauty of motherhood

This concept brings me hope! Parents—mothers are still the number one influence on their children, (unless they voluntarily give up that profoundly valuable role). I’m a mom of six kids. I get it. Daily mothering doesn’t always seem exciting or profoundly valuable. It can feel isolating. It’s exhausting. It is crisis management every hour of the day and night. Mothers deal with crying, sickness, missing homework, dirty diapers, spilled food and more.

But I can’t help looking at those maternal frustrations through new eyes. It’s so beautiful! It’s beautiful that a child has someone who loves them unconditionally and will always be there. My daughter-in-law repeatedly reminds her 3-year-old of their newly embraced motto, “I will always love you, no matter what.” To which little Axel replies almost in a shout, “No matter what!”

Motherhood is not only beautiful in those rare moments when a child is blissfully sleeping. It’s beautiful for the times when it’s not peaceful, not easy, not perfect.

Related: Mom Guilt? 8 Tips to Overcome Shame When Your Child Sees Porn


Motherhood—the embodiment of sacrifice

My father came to visit me after the birth of my first son. As he tenderly cradled my little boy he softly said to me, “Never again in your life will you think of yourself first.” Perhaps that willingness to sacrifice for someone else is what we’re missing. We live in a “you do you” world which teaches that fulfillment comes in satisfying yourself. But ultimately, it leaves you empty. Living a self-centered and self-indulgent life can never satisfy the soul.

So Mom, you have a big job. Your child needs you. The world needs you. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, remember, you’re doing better than you think and you don’t have to be perfect. Jill Churchill once said,

“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”

Colleen Down, in her book It takes a Mother to Raise a Village recounts a story told by Mother Teresa. The sisters found a boy living with his mother in a cardboard box on the streets of Calcutta. They took him to the orphanage where he received food, a bath and a clean bed. 

The next day he disappeared and was found in the cardboard box with his mother. Again, he was brought to the orphanage for care and again ran back to his mother. Mother Teresa learned that a mother, even in a cardboard box was more important than any physical comforts the sisters could provide.

Related: 3 Mental Shifts That Will Make You a Happier Mom

Happy Mother’s Day!

I honor you mothers, those who are there “no matter what” for a child. You are holding the future of the world.

And when a misguided soul refers to motherhood as “unpaid care work” or suggests that motherhood is not a “socially productive role," you’ll know better. At that moment you’ll remember your child’s hugs, necklaces made of pipe cleaners and the thrill you felt watching your child ride a bike for the first time.

You’ll remember the little bluebird and her nest and your heart will tell you that being a mother may be the most important thing of all.

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