So this week’s challenge is to write about my experience of spiritual mothering – as in the book of Titus, which is the current reading plan, Titus writes that older women should help younger women to learn to love their husbands and their children, and to live wisely. It is the only direct instruction to this particular group of women – those who perhaps have already raised their families and now may be entering a new season of life – and in a society which often overlooks them, it is something very easily missed.
I lost my mum 5 years ago. She died very suddenly, unexpectedly, and it broke my heart. I was expecting my first daughter within a matter of weeks, and suddenly I was forced into being a new mum without a mum. The person who I had thought I could rely on to be there for the 2am phone calls, the 4pm phone calls and the ‘what day is it anyway?’ phone calls, was gone. At a time when I needed mothering, needed hugging and loving so that I might be able to best love this new tiny person who needed me 24/7, she was gone. I’m not going to dwell on that period of time, as I see it now as a time when I was almost an embryo again myself – it was a time for me to develop and start to grow. But it was also a time of deep, unfathomable sadness and loss.
When my daughter was 9 months old, I walked through the doors of the church I now call home. It took a further two and a half years (a few months after the birth of my second daughter) before I really let any woman of a similar age to my mum into my life. Not because I felt it would be replacing her, but because I was so good at standing on my own two feet and doing it all through my own effort, (whilst simultaneously fooling myself that really it was all God’s strength and I had given way to Him!) that I couldn’t see why I needed anyone else. Being ‘the mum without a mum but doing OK’ had become part of my identity.
Then one Sunday morning. in response to the message, I let down those barriers of pretence and falsehood and silently asked for help in prayer. And it was answered by someone who has since then, offered me company, support, help in practical ways and simply by being there, an ear – but more than that, she’s opened up to me as well about her own life and experience and struggles both current and past. That sharing of experience – but not in either a preachy, nor overtly mother-y way – has meant a huge amount to me. God knew exactly what He was doing when she came over to me!
No one will ever replace my mum. It’s a statement which seems almost ridiculous to have to say. But that doesn’t mean that no one can ever mother me again. And I do not believe it is in any way disrespectful to her memory to allow that – I think she is glad that there is someone there for me. I am tremendously blessed now to have several women in that generation who are in my life. Some of them probably haven’t got a clue about the impact they have had simply by sharing their experiences and everyday-ness of their lives. But I am truly grateful for each and every one, and I believe that they will be honoured for what they do.