Mother’s Day. If you are like me, you may have memories of frantically working with your dad to come up with a last-minute Mother’s Day gift. Something special to make her smile and thankful for her thoughtful children. I still remember the special meals after church, usually at a restaurant so that “mom won’t have to cook.”
Since becoming a husband and father, this day has taken on a whole new significance for me. Three years ago, I watched my wife Christina deliver our daughter after seventeen hours of labor. I will never forget that day as I watched the greatest demonstration of love I have ever witnessed. I saw Christina’s face etched with the strain of pushing and her eyes full of determination to bring our daughter into the world. I can still hear the midwife say “she’s out!” and feel our little girl land in my outstretched hands. So small, yet so alive.
I still marvel at the fact that the outgoing, bookish, and curious three-year-old running around our house was made in my wife’s womb. Together, we created a unique human life and she nurtured it in her womb. As Christina is now in the second trimester of her third pregnancy, my sense of wonder has only grown.
Too be honest, I am jealous of Christina’s ability to nurture and sustain life within her. Don’t get me wrong, I am not jealous of labor and delivery. But, the fact that an independent human being was created within her and she gets to sustain it seems to me to be the coolest thing in the world.
Yet for many in our culture today, motherhood is not “cool” at all, but rather a curse that should be prevented. For many in the modern feminist movement, motherhood means the death of self and the prevention of dreams and ideals. Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the abortion industry tell women that pregnancy is an obstacle to fulfillment. As a result, Planned Parenthood’s primary service for pregnant women is abortion. Women read stories of movie stars, athletes, and others who chose abortion as a way of “securing” their futures. The message conveyed is clear: motherhood is not part of being an empowered woman.
The irony of this position is that it agrees with a fundamental belief of patriarchal societies: women can either be mothers or they can be successful in their careers—not both. Let me explain. When Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and the other great founders of feminism led their crusade for female empowerment, they did not view pregnancy and motherhood as a lesser calling than working in a factory or office, rather they fought to ensure that women would not have to choose between the two. The culture of their day said “motherhood is a woman’s highest calling, so why should she want to do anything else?” linking a woman’s social value to her ability to bear children.
The flaw in this reasoning is readily apparent. No one would have said “fatherhood is a man’s highest calling, so why would he want to do anything else?” For centuries, men were able to pursue fatherhood and career. Yet, Anthony, Stanton, and their fellow suffragettes were told by their culture that their place was “in the home.” Those who argue that pregnancy and motherhood are obstacles to a woman’s empowerment accept the basic premise of this flawed logic. They say in effect, “you’re right! A woman can’t be a mother and successful in her career, so we need abortion in order for women to achieve their dreams.” Instead of motherhood, now a woman’s social value is often determined by her career goals and achievements. We have swapped one logical fallacy for another.
The foremothers of feminism fought so that women could have the freedom to choose career and family, home and workplace, now the movement’s leaders say “you can only pick one.”
So, motherhood became a lesser calling, a relic of our “patriarchal past.” No longer was it “cool” for a young woman to say she longed to be a mom. “Think bigger!” she is encouraged. “Don’t limit yourself,” as if deciding to sustain life, give it birth, and then help raise it is in any way a “limited” experience.
Don’t get me wrong, motherhood is not for everyone. Some cannot experience it due to relational reasons, others face physical obstacles on the path to motherhood. Yet, as a culture, we should recognize the sacredness and importance of motherhood. This sacredness should be even more apparent to those of us who consider ourselves Christians.
Jesus Christ, God’s only son, was born of a woman. God could have brought His Son into the world through any means He wished, yet He was delivered just like any other baby. Even Jesus can celebrate Mother’s Day. Mary, like millions of women throughout history, chose life in the midst of a difficult unplanned (from her perspective) pregnancy. She brought her son into a world where powerful political leaders fought to end His life. Yet, despite it all, she remained His faithful mother.
I know it is risky to write this post as a guy. I am sure someone will accuse me of being “part of the patriarchy” for encouraging others to embrace the sacredness of motherhood. But I think that women like my wife and the countless others like her who daily work to achieve their dreams and raise their children deserve a standing ovation. I believe that women are strong enough to be mothers and pursue a career. I believe that our society should empower women to be the best moms they can be. That we should extoll the virtues of motherhood, fatherhood, family, and love.
And I am not alone. Today, there are more than 30,000 staff and volunteers at more than 1,100 pregnancy centers in Care Net’s affiliated network that are empowering women so they can choose life for their unborn children and choose their dreams. Those who are “pro-choice” should celebrate pregnancy centers because they make it possible for women facing difficult pregnancies to choose something besides abortion.
At pregnancy centers, women receive job-placement counseling, baby supplies, ultrasounds, and parenting classes. For those who wish to place a child for adoption, they receive resources to assist them with that transition. This empowerment frees women to make decisions outside the pressures of difficult circumstances. Interestingly enough, this freedom means that the overwhelming majority of women choose life. 80% of the clients who walk into a Care Net affiliate considering abortion walk out choosing life and our clients report a 97% satisfaction rating on their experiences in the center.
What could be more “feminist” than that?
So, this Mother’s Day, take the time to tell the moms in your life how thankful you are for their decision to give birth to life and to embrace motherhood despite all the bad press it has received. And, if you know a mother struggling in her journey, embrace her. Surround her with compassion, hope, and help so she can become the best mom she can be. After all, the future of our society depends on mothers to give it birth.