Don’t Underestimate Your Value
About the Guest
Sometimes it feels like "Just a Mom" is the lowest rung of the social ladder. But veteran moms Jill Savage, Ashley Escue, Meg Meeker, and Karen Ehman give encouragement to moms that their role in their children's lives is invaluable and irreplaceable.
moremoreProverbs 31 Ministries speaker and New York Times Best-selling author. Described as profoundly practical, engagingly funny and downright real, her passion is to help women to live their priorities and love their lives as they serve God and others. Karen writes for Encouragement for Today online devotions that bring God's peace, perspective,...moremore
Sometimes it feels like “Just a Mom” is the lowest rung of the social ladder. But Jill Savage, Ashley Escue, Meg Meeker, and Karen Ehman tell moms that their role in their children’s lives is irreplaceable.
Bob: If I asked you, “What’s your most important responsibility as a mother?—what is job number one?”—how would you answer? Dr. Meg Meeker said she had the wrong view for a lot of years.
Meg: One of the lies that I bought into, as a young mom, is that I really felt that it was my job to keep our kids happy at all times. Keeping our kids happy means making sure they are never bored, making sure they don’t fail, making sure they’re not frightened, making sure they’re not crying—you know what I’m saying. Probably every mother out there goes: “Yes; yes! I’ve got a longer list than you do.” But our job isn’t to keep our kids happy.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, May 11th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. So, if that’s not job one for a mom, what is it? We’ll spend some time exploring that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. Big day coming up this weekend / this Sunday—Mother’s Day is a good day, not only to acknowledge our moms; but it’s really a good day to pull back and be reminded of the fact that moms are pretty strategic in God’s design and God’s plan.
Dennis: That’s right. Proverbs 31 is such a classic chapter in the Book of Proverbs—just about the value of a wife and a mom to her husband and to her children and to her world. I think we need to be bringing great value to moms, which is what we hope to do today.
Bob: Well, yes, in honor of our 25th birthday for the radio program, FamilyLife Today, which was started in 1992—we’re coming up on our 25th birthday later this year—and we thought, “Throughout the year, we’re going to dig into the archives; and we’re going to take a topic like motherhood and review what some of our guests have shared with us over the years on that subject.”
Dennis: And Bob, I just want to take a moment here and say, “Thank you,” to Legacy Partners. Thank you for faithfully investing in this generation but, also, in future generations as well.
Bob: Well, we’re going to turn our attention to motherhood. Again, it was years ago that we asked Jill Savage to come be a guest on FamilyLife Today. She’s an author and a speaker and heads a ministry called Hearts at Home. Jill was a strong proponent for the idea that the value of motherhood in our culture needs to be advanced.
Jill: When most women are asked, “What do you do?” they respond with the answer: “Oh, I’m just a mom.” That really negates the value and purpose of that job.
One of the things that I have found, personally, is I had to change my answer to that question—that when people asked me that, I used to say that: “I’m just a mom. I’m at home with my kids.” And I would say it—I would even drop my voice when I would say it, and I would find that I didn’t have any value in that.
As I began to value that—to see the importance of it—and to do a shift in my thinking, I began to change the terminology I was using as I was speaking with women and encouraging women, even one on one, that this is a profession; and we need to think of it as that. We need to present ourselves as professionals / we need to approach it as professionals.
Dennis: Finally, researchers are coming back around to affirming the very thing you are saying. There was a study done of more than 1,100 Canadian women. The bottom line was they found that women, who were at home with their children—just being a mom—that they were happier—
Dennis: —more fulfilled. Do you find that’s true in the women you talk to in your ministry?
Jill: Definitely. We find that women are happier at home, but what we also find is they don’t realize how hard it is to be at home. What we get is—a lot of women, who make the transition from the workforce to coming home, and their expectations are they are going to have more time on their hands. They’re expecting they are going to be able to accomplish all of these projects that they want to accomplish. What they begin to realize is that they really had a tainted picture of what it was like to be at home—that it’s hard work! It is a lot of hard work.
There is never a coffee break unless you give it to yourself. There’s never a lunch hour unless you take some time for yourself. You don’t get off at five o’clock. You are on the job 24 hours a day / 7 days a week, and that is something that women aren’t ready for. So, I think that they struggle with it; but I do see more women wanting to come home and making the transition to come home.
Dennis: Bob, Jill referred to moms being professionals. I think that’s a good term, but I prefer something along the lines of being a steward. They are stewards of the next generation. The most valuable gift they can give the next generation—which are boys and girls who grow up to be men and women of character—who have a sense of mission, who know their purpose, but also who know who they are accountable to, as men and women, and who are living their lives trying to please and honor Jesus Christ.
Bob: Well, and I think a lot of parents today look at that and go, “Well, yes, that’s easy—raising kids who grow up with character and who want to honor Christ.”
Dennis: What parent did you talk to that said that?
Bob: Well, I think they think: “We can do that—
Dennis: Like a side issue?
Bob: —“as a compartment in our lives. We can squeeze it in around the other stuff that’s going on.” I think Jill’s point is: “To do it and do it right is a full-time job.
“It’s going to be a taxing responsibility. You’re going to have to really give yourself to it.”
I think we look at the culture we’re living in today, and we can see the fruit of a lot of inattention that was paid to children. They don’t just grow up on their own to be men and women of great character; do they?
Dennis: They don’t. In fact, Bob, Barbara and I have talked frequently around this issue and have said, “It’s taken everything we’ve got, as adults, to try to do this thing in what we consider to be the right way.” And our hats go off and hearts go out to single moms / single dads who are raising their sons and daughters by themselves. I do not know how they do it. They’re going to be heroes in heaven.
Bob: Yes; one of the things we talked about with Jill is the importance of moms making sure that, in the midst of wanting to do the job well, they don’t lose sight of the fact that a part of what needs to happen at home is there needs to be some fun.
In fact, I think Jill referred to mom’s role as being the Vice President of Fun in the home or something like that. But she talked about how this was a struggle for her to grab hold of—the priority of fun.
Jill: I’m a more serious mom than I am a fun mom. I share in the chapter about my friend, Kathy; and my friend, Kathy, loves to have fun with her children. It’s not beyond her at all that, after a rainstorm. she would run out in the yard with the kids and find the biggest puddle out in the yard, and pull her jeans up, and jump in the puddle right alongside with them. I don’t find that enjoyable. [Laughter]
But you know? One day, I was talking with her daughter—her daughter was over at my house—and she said, “You know, my mom is the funnest mom.” I laughed at her cute, little grammatical error there; but I thought, “You know, I don’t know that my children could say that about me.”
It really challenged me to think about it.
As I thought about it, one of the things that I realized is that your ability to have fun is in direct correlation to your ability to stand a mess. That was one of the first things I had to learn—that I needed to be able to do / I needed to be able to be more comfortable with—because my initial response to fun is: “No; we can’t do that because it means we’re going to have to clean up a mess. There’s going to be more work for me,” or whatever that keeps us from having that.
It was really important for me to realize the root of me being a little bit more serious than more fun and where I needed to start in making a shift in my thinking.
Dennis: You’ve made that shift. What are a couple of those fun spontaneous moments that you made a decision to go ahead and put up with the mess and just go ahead and just do it?
Jill: One day, the kids came inside; and it was in the middle of winter. Erica said, “Mom can we blow bubbles in the house?” I said, “No, that’s an outdoor toy,”—we’ve always blown bubbles outdoors.
She said, “Well, why can’t we blow bubbles in the house?” And of course, I initially gave her the standard response, “Because I said so.” [Laughter] But then, I began to really think about it; and I thought: “Now, Jill, why can’t they blow bubbles in the house? I mean, we have the little bubble container that, even if it spills, it’s not going to go all over the place—it’s spill proof. Why can’t they do that? It’s not going to hurt anything.”
So, I went back to her, and I said: “You know what? I’m sorry. You know, I gave you a “No,” answer way too quickly. And yes, you can blow bubbles in the house. That would be just fine.”
Bob: You know, after we had had this conversation with Jill, talking about how important fun is in what a mom brings to a family, we decided to call your daughter, Ashley—
Dennis: —the chief Mom of Fun.
Bob: And this is a part—she makes—
Dennis: She does.
Bob: —the family fun; doesn’t she?
Dennis: Seven boys, now.
Bob: Here’s what the phone call sounded like.
[Previous Phone Interview]
Bob: Hey, Ashley. How are you?
Ashley: Hey, Bob! I’m good. How are you?
Dennis: Hi, princess.
Ashley: Hey, Daddy!
Dennis: It’s good to talk to you. We just decided we’d have a mom-check.
Dennis: We used to have telephone calls, all around the country, to moms, who had young children, just to find out what their house looked like. [Laughter] Ashley, tell the truth; because I was over there the other night, and I’m sure you haven’t cleaned that kitchen since.
Ashley: Now, you know I will tell you the truth, Daddy. [Laughter] You know you’ll get some real, hard honesty from me—every time.
Dennis: How’s your fun quotient right now? On a 1 to 10, how much fun do you feel like you are for the boys?
Ashley: Well, let’s see—right now, we’re having a very rare moment; and they are actually watching Toy Story. So, I’m having a great time right now;—[Laughter]—because they are completely entertained by this movie that’s going to last an hour-and-a-half. So, I get an hour-and-a-half of free time. It’s joyous. It’s a perfect time for you to call me.
Bob: We just talked here about the fact that part of a mom’s assignment, as a professional mom,—
Bob: —is that she needs to be the vice president in charge of fun for the kids. Do you agree with that?
Ashley: Yes; I think so. We sat around last night and wrestled. I chased them around the hall, and we read some books. We did some real fun stuff last night—me and the boys did.
Dennis: She’s a pretty fun person.
Dennis: Yes; she really is.
Ashley: I have a good time!
Bob: There are days where it doesn’t feel all that fun; right?
Ashley: Yes; there are a lot of those days. [Laughter]
Bob: But a mom has got to keep in mind that the responsibility for keeping things going, and light and fun, and making the family something that everybody’s happy to be a part of—that duty kind of rests on your shoulders; doesn’t it?
Ashley: Yes; she has a lot of responsibility. She’s got to keep the household running, meals coming, keep it fun, and yet have wisdom and discipline. It’s a pretty big, long list of responsibility.
Dennis: Tell me what your kitchen sink looks like right now, Princess.
Ashley: Well, you know, Dad, it’s a good day for you to call and ask me; because my house is really a mess right now.
I’ve been doing so well at keeping it clean this week; and last night, after the kids went to bed, I thought: “I have been working, all week, almost non-stop. Why is my house a disaster?” [Laughter] I mean, there are, at least, 20 toys in the living room and the dining room—which we never play in these two rooms / I don’t know why they are all in here—toys all up the stairs. Our kitchen—dinner from last night is in the kitchen sink. So, yes; my house is a mess right now. I don’t know why—I’ve worked all week. I don’t understand why I’m not having any progress. [Laughter]
Dennis: Ashley, there are a number of moms in cars right now who just left houses like you described it, and they are going:“This is therapeutic. [Laughter] This is why—
Ashley: I’ll tell you what—you just don’t want to come home! I mean, when you’re out in your car, you’re like, “Oh, good; I don’t want to go home either.” [Laughter]
Bob: Well, thank you for allowing us to check the fun quotient / check the fun meter at your house.
Ashley: Well, they are having fun right now. [Laughter in the background]
Bob: Sounds like it right there.
Ashley: That would be James playing—he’s having a blast.
Ashley: I love you.
Dennis: I’m going to tell you—if you went and visited her house, right now, double your life insurance. [Laughter]
It could be dangerous to make it all the way to the kitchen.
Bob: Seven boys at the house?
Dennis: That’s right—ages 3 to 17, and they are all boys. How my dear daughter—how she juggles raising those seven and being a great wife to her husband Michael—I have no idea. But you know what? She does it, and a good bit of it is what we’re talking about here today. She loves being a mom and loves having a good time with her boys.
Bob: She has made that a priority. She decided, at some point, that being home / being with the boys and investing in them was what she was going to pour herself into.
Bob: We talked, years ago, with a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker, about this priority of motherhood and how moms often feel like they’re not succeeding in the role. She said that fun is important, but we have to make sure that we understand what the main goal of motherhood is.
Meg: One of the lies I bought into, as a young mom, is that I really felt that it was my job to keep our kids happy at all times. Keeping our kids happy means making sure they’re never bored, making sure they don’t fail, making sure they’re not frightened, making sure they’re not bullied, making sure they’re not crying—you know what I’m saying. Probably every mother out there goes: “Yes; yes! I’ve got a longer list than you do.”
But our job isn’t to keep our kids happy. Our job is to raise good, strong people—men and women. The only way they’re going to learn the great lessons are to fail and to know Mom and Dad love them just the same: “It’s okay that you didn’t make the cheerleading squad. Who cares?—because that’s not who you are.”
Bob: Yes; and a great reminder in a day when, I think, a lot of parents / moms and dads think:
“We want our kids to have fun and be successful. If we’ve done that, then, we’ve reached the goal.” The goal really is higher than that; isn’t it?
Dennis: It is. You’re not to be a mom, who is in charge of entertainment and just being a soccer mom—running your kids to all the various athletic, and hobbies, and events they go to—instead, you are to shape their characters. You’re to shape their lives in the direction of knowing God, fearing God, loving God, serving God, and being a young man or a young lady who grows up to be God’s man / God’s woman.
Bob, in this culture that seems to be distorting identities of male and female, more than ever, we’ve got to have a generation of moms who are engaging their sons and daughters in these important formative years around the subject of: “What is a young man?
“And uniquely, what are his responsibilities?” “What’s a young lady? How should she behave and carry herself?” We’ve got to have a fresh crop of mothers who own this responsibility.
Bob: I imagine we’ve got listeners, who are trying to juggle the responsibilities of being an effective mom with the realities of their work in the marketplace. They may wish they could be home investing more than they are able to; but the economic realities being what they are, they are in the marketplace. They can kind of listen to a program here, and hear these moms talking about how important motherhood is, and they feel guilty.
Dennis: They’re feeling guilty. That’s not the purpose of this—to make moms feel guilty. There are realities that everybody has to face. Trust God with where He’s got you right now. If there are some decisions and values to be pulled back, and you and your husband evaluate, that’s great. On the other hand, take this as an exhortation and a great reminder of the privilege—
—the great privilege—it is to partner with Almighty God in shaping the next generation’s character, conscience, spiritual well-being. It’s going to impact generations to come if Jesus Christ doesn’t come back.
Bob: The point is: “What you are able to do matters. It’s making a difference in your kids’ lives.” Karen Ehman talked about that when she was here, talking about the priorities of motherhood. She said, “We’ve got to keep in mind that what we’re doing is significant.”
Karen: It’s often looked at by society as something women do if they can’t get a real job: “Well, I guess they’ll stay home with their kids.” And it doesn’t mean just necessarily that this myth applies to moms who stay at home. It can apply to moms, who work outside the home, too, when they think of their mothering—they often think: “So many of the aspects of motherhood can be farmed out. We can hire people to do things with our kids.”
We get this notion that what we do is just less than.
But you know what? God sees what we do. Our mothering matters. Our children will be, in part, who they are when they grow up because of the time that we have poured into their lives and the time that we’ve spent with them.
Bob: Most of the projects we tackle, as people, are things that we can do in a week; or maybe, a long project takes you a couple of months; or maybe, you’re building a house, and it’s going to take a year to build a house. Building a human being takes the better part of two decades—
Karen: It does.
Bob: —to get it done. As a person doing it, in year six, you can start to think, “Is this really making any difference at all—what I’m doing?”
Karen: Absolutely. And we don’t have quarterly feedbacks and evaluations, and we don’t always get the praise and the pats on the back. You know, you started off the broadcast talking about “Her children rise and call her blessed,”—that they say in Proverbs—it’s written in Proverbs 31. And when my kids were little, I used to often wonder, “When is that going to happen?”—like they are four and two—
—they’re not running around, saying, “Oh, blessed are thou, oh Mommy, for all you do.”
Karen: But I’m telling you—when they are older—I got a text message from my 21-year-old son the other day, just saying, “Mom, I was just thinking about all that you’ve done for me,”—I can’t even say it without crying—“Thank you for all you’ve done. You’re an amazing mom, and I love you. I don’t tell you enough that I appreciate all you’ve done for me.”
It doesn’t always happen when they are little; but when they grow up, they will look back at the time that you’ve invested in them / that you’ve poured into their lives, and it matters to them. It matters most of all to God. We need to let that divine nod of God be enough for us and not to be seeking that outside, even though it’s hard. We’re not going to always get the pats on the back from society. We’re not going to get the “‘Atta girls!” that we should. We need to know that we are doing it as unto the Lord.
Dennis: You know, listening to that mini tribute by her son back to her made me think about some words I wrote to my mom in my tribute that I gave to her, way back, I think, in 1983. I’ll just read you the end of my tribute that I wrote to her:
She also taught him about accountability, truthfulness, honesty, and transparency. She modeled a tough loyalty to his dad. He always knew divorce was never an option, and she took care of her own parents when old age took its toll. She went to church faithfully. In fact, she led this six-year-old boy to Christ in her Sunday evening Bible study class.
Even today, her age doesn’t stop her from fishing in a cold rain, running off to get Chinese food, or wolfing down a cheeseburger and a dozen bonbons with her son. She’s truly a woman to be honored. She’s more than somebody’s mother—she’s my mom. Mom, I love you.
And I might add: “Mom, I miss you.” What a privilege to have been raised by a mom, who made it a priority and who imparted her life to me, as a young man.
Bob: I can imagine that some of our listeners may want to read your whole tribute; and we’ve got it, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. It’s probably too late for a listener, who would read it and think, “I ought to do something like that for my mom,” to get it done in time for Mother’s Day; but I would encourage listeners to get a copy of your book, The Forgotten Commandment, and start now—thinking and praying about giving your mom and your dad a tribute of honor at an upcoming birthday or anniversary—even start now, preparing for Christmas. You can get information about Dennis’s book, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call to order at 1-800-FL-TODAY.
Our team has also put together a list of great books for moms; and even though you can’t get one in time for Mother’s Day, any of these books would make a great belated Mother’s Day gift for your mom.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and browse through the list of books that are available on motherhood. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com.
You know, when you stop and think about the goal of parenting, you stop and think about what matters most—it really does go back to what the Bible says in 3 John 4—there is no greater joy for a parent than to know that our children are walking in the truth. At FamilyLife, we’re trying to do all we can do to help moms and dads be ready to tackle that assignment and to be faithful to talk with our kids about God, about sin, about salvation and redemption, and about what it means for us to have a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus.
I met a mom recently, who said to me, “I’ve been listening to FamilyLife Today from the beginning—for 25 years.” And she said, “You helped me raise my kids.”
I mention that because we have our listeners to thank for partnering with us in this process. You make it possible for us to reach more people with practical biblical help and hope for marriage and family every time you make a contribution to this ministry.
We’ve got a goal set for this month—we’re trying to raise an ambitious amount of money—$1.1 million—to help us continue working on projects that are already under way. We just need to make sure the funds are available throughout the summer. So, we’re asking you to make a contribution today—whatever you are able to do. Maybe, you’re a regular contributor to FamilyLife Today—could you add a little more this month to your regular donation? Or maybe, you’ve never given a donation—how about today being the first day that you help support this ministry and help us reach more people with God’s design for marriage and family? You can donate, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can donate by calling 1-800-FL-TODAY.
You can also mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to continue hearing great wisdom from moms who have shared their insights with us over the last 25 years. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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