An Unconventional Motherhood

Has someone ever said something to you, nothing serious, and yet it sends you down a rabbit hole of thoughts?

Our life group from church has become a close knit group.  If you aren’t familiar with a life group, it is a popular concept with large churches because it gives you a subgroup to identify with and to be a part of within a larger church.  The life groups meet weekly to fellowship, discuss the message from the previous weekend in depth, and pray for each other.

At Canvas, our life groups meet quarterly, and the church recommends shaking up the groups each quarter so that you get to meet alot of different people.  Our group began meeting in the fall of 2016, and we immediately felt such a bond that we went rogue and have continued to meet together ever since.  One of the values of Canvas is “doing life together,” and our life group lives out it out.

Our awesome life group leaders are Gary and Terry.  In the past Gary has invited me to help facilitate some of our weekly discussions, which I LOVE to do.  It is an answer to prayer for me to be able to use some of my skills as a trainer. Unfortunately, Gary is in the final days of a rare bladder cancer.  When he was no longer able to lead our weekly discussions, I volunteered to do so.

Pretty quickly, our group saw a need to provide some meals each week for Gary, Terry, their two sons, and daughter-in-law.  Organizing is another gift for me, so I became the person who coordinates who is bringing meals and when. And since I am not working outside the home, I have the time.  Finally, I have the time.

Then we had a fellowship night for pizza and a movie, and I picked up pizza and popcorn for us; each person contributed $5 to cover the cost of the food.

And there have been other events that have come up; touching base with Terry about Gary’s health and their needs, relaying this info to the group.  Beth’s mother passed, so touching base with her to see how we might serve her.  All these sorts of activities just come naturally to me, and it is a joy to do them.

In 2000, I made the decision not to have children.  There were reasons why, and one of my explanations was that I lack the nuturing gene. I just couldn’t see myself in the role of a traditional nurturing mother, as I imagined the role to be.

If you ever get sick and you have the choice of John or me caring for you, pick John.  Every time.  When it comes to nurturing someone who is not well, he puts me to shame. When I am sick or recovering from surgery, he waits on me hand and foot; when I am having a hard day emotionally, he is tender and compassionate. I very consciously try to emulate his behavior when he is not well, but I never feel as smooth with it as he is.

So it really took me by surprise the other day when I was attending to some details for our life group and my friend Karla texted me and said, “Thanks for being the mother for our group.”

Wait, what?

Then I got to thinking about it, and I realized that for decades, I have placed a very narrow definition to motherly nurturing.  Just as in “At Home in the World” Tsh Oxenrider challenged my definition of “home,” in one sentence, Karla challenged my definition of mothering.

All these years, I have defined nurturing motherhood as those warm, fuzzy cookie baking mothers and grandmothers who thrive on creating a warm, welcoming hearth and home, and I am now realizing that I am selling the rest of us short.

I have been blessed with a several close  friends and a few family members who have also chosen not to have have children, and yet they each have unique ways of nurturing others.

One friend is a high powered appellate attorney who, since our teenage years, has shown me how to shower a friend with thoughtful gifts and encouraging words.

Another friend nurtures by being an expert at holistic health care, freely sharing her knowlege one-on-one with friends and via online health forms.

A family member channeled her nurturing side into becoming a professional counselor.

Another family member is one of the most gracious Southern ladies you could ever be blessed to meet, and she and her husband are two of the most hospitable people I know.  I treasure every moment I have spent in their home.

Upon further reflection, I realized that my career as a corporate trainer was actually one gigantic nurturing opportunity, encouraging people and helping them improve themselves, personally and professionally. Seeing others bloom and expand as their best selves and helping people create and reach goals was fulfilling in ways that I cannot put into words.

Yes, I do have a nuturing gene, dare I say a mothering gene?

Not all of us choose to nurture and raise children, but there are ample opportunities to nuture, or “mother” people in so many other ways.

It’s not just children who need nurturing/mothering.

Who do you know that is an Unconventional “Mother?” Will you share in the comments?



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