Mother of the Graduate

Photo courtesy of SMU, Jake Dean

(May 19, 2013) The journey that began with a stack of diapers and swaddling blankets will reach a pinnacle at the toss of a tassel.

Our youngest child will soon don a long robe and mortarboard to receive his college diploma. This, he thinks, is no big deal, just a necessary bit of pageantry.

As a mother I say it’s a monumental event, a milestone for us as well as our son. And I want to see that tassel swing with every long-legged stride he takes across the stage. I’m already celebrating as I run my finger across a gold-embellished image on the front of a commencement announcement.

Motherhood often begins with celebration, as it should. Friends and family come together to shower the mother-to-be with things she will need—around 12 pages of store registry items these days.

A new mother might soon realize that the astounding array of personal items and equipment half-filling the house provides a false sense of confidence. The nursery is ready. But is she?

Others, like me, join the ranks of motherhood with an over-confidence in ability. This likely makes heaven—and our own mothers—smile.

Children can turn their mothers into desperate creatures. At first we’re sleep-deprived. Then we move from that phase to so many others in a long succession, as if we’re jumping from one stone to the next across an incredibly wide creek.

But desperation drives prayer, which means that having children compels mothers to pray. If we don’t turn upwards we must turn somewhere else—inward, outward, downward?

Mothers are well-acquainted with fear and trembling brought on by our children or their circumstances—whether real or imagined. But I’ve found that fearing God helps me to overcome earthly fears. Bowing before God in prayer keeps my heart from fainting over the latest offspring-induced distress. Reading the Bible relieves my anxieties as I ingest the wisdom of God’s word.

The last chapter of Proverbs describes a godly woman, whose “children arise and call her blessed” (Pr. 31:28; NIV). How can we become this woman who gains the admiration of her children? The passage says she is trustworthy, hardworking, giving and kind. But there’s more. Verse 30 mentions one specific quality: “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

And now I’m noticing the next—and final—verse: “Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

This sounds like a diploma to me.

Patti Richter

Blue Ribbon News special contributor Patti Richter of Heath is a journalist who writes  news and feature stories, book reviews and more for Christian publications. 

Read more by Patti Richter:

Hunting for Easter

Not forgetting the least of these

Beholding wonders

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